STORIES OF OUR FAMILIES
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.
June, stand by
October, all over?
Written on 25 October, 1989 by my father, Andrew D. Sheppard
(Transcribed from personal family memorabilia)
Hugo's path in the Caribbean - September 1989
We should not wait to give thanks to God for all of his blessings by going to church on Saturday or Sunday. We should do it now. Almighty God in His Divine Mercy has spared the inhabitants of this blessed land of Barbados, while our island neighbours have received the brunt of the powers of two of the most devastating hurricanes in known history - but Barbados has been spared. Can anyone really imagine where we would be today if Hugo had hit us like it did Montserrat? Population 13,000 versus our 250,000, plus an undetermined number of visitors. Add to this our pretty little and big houses, hotels, smart condominiums, shopping centres and malls, our water and electricity supplies, telephones, fax, telex and our inadequate drainage - all of these things taken for granted. And in one fell swoop all could have disappeared. All of our top soil would have been washed away, putting an end to our sugar and other crops. Most of our tourist accommodations would have been flattened and casualties would have been enormous. Recovery would have cost billions of dollars and we could have lost our largest dollar-earner, the visitor or tourist, who might have gone elsewhere and liked it as well or better than Barbados.
But what do we do? We complain and quarrel and bad-talk our neighbours. We have exhibited a total lack of care for those less fortunate than ourselves, with few exceptions. Apart from the traditional sources of organised charity, the general public of Barbados has not demonstrated real concern for our poor deprived and desolate fellow human beings. It was pathetic. Poor Doug Hoyte and his team of dedicated volunteer helpers and entertainers did their best. They set a goal of $200,000 and fell short of pledges by $85,000, less than the cost of a Crown or Mercedes car. So we ride off into the night in our air-conditioned chariots, numbed by the sounds of our stereos. Too bad for you, Montserrat, Antigua, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Thomas.
Instead of thanksgiving, our sense of gratitude has turned to our very considerable concern about the serious spate of automobile accidents on our roads and highways. This carnage has to stop. The police presence on our roads must increase and our drivers must be made to feel more responsible. All of this reflects a lack of care for other human beings. But then again, most vehicles being driven today are death traps. Their design and construction are deplorable and generally offer no protection for their occupants. And, their cost is prohibitive.
Illegal drugs provide the media with endless information. This scourge on our society appears to be gaining ground despite the anti-drug propaganda and the efforts of our efficient police and security forces. The addicts, pushers and suppliers just do not care. The suppliers and trafficers beome richer and are not ashamed to exhibit their rapidly earned wealth with extravagance in housing and transportation.
Lack of respect for authority has become obvious in all areas of human relationships, but particularly among the guardians of the law, who should set the example for others to follow. When policemen can boo their Deputy Prime Minister at a meeting to which he was invited. When the Governor General's mobile escort and mounted police refused to report for duty at the Independence Day Parade and get away scot-free because they reported "sick". When Magistrates' lives are threatened and resignation and retirement are the answers. When a school teacher can walk the streets of Bridgetown telling everyone what a horrible place Lodge School is because he feels peeved that his status as a teacher is unclear. And what about the behaviour of school children in the streets, buses and other public places? There was a time when school children wore their uniforms with pride and there was "Esprit de Corps". Not anymore. And now a 13 year old boy shoots a 14 year fellow student in his nose during school hours. Common courtesy is almost a thing of the past.
Too much materialism, and now, too little money to keep up the life style. The prospect is frightening. Our unemployment is growing and will become worse with the recession in our economy.
Let us be sensible and do not allow the obvious evils which have permeated our society to grow, but rather curb and stop the nefarious practices of the selfish few who are ruining our happy and prosperous future.
This is an appeal to the heads of all religious bodies to get together now and arrange an Ecumenical Prayer Meeting at the Garrison or the Stadium and invite and exhort all Christians and other residents of different religious persuasions to come and pray together. To thank God for our precious lives and all the good things that we enjoy and take for granted.
By the way, CNN news just showed us an angry storm and potential hurricane headed for Bermuda and its thriving tourist industry. And poor San Francisco is expecting another bad earth quake within two weeks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wednesday 25th October 1989 - 7.00 a.m.