Losing the mask

With National Elections in the air in Barbados, Grenada, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States etc… my thoughts turn to politicians. I think of what Barbados’ politicians tell you when they knock at your door; what they say in the literature that they push through your louvers or mailboxes or what their campaigners buzz into your ears over the phone lines.

“X wants to represent you in the House; he/she always wanted to serve people.”  Haul and come again- this outdated stock phrase is an apt response for alas something is missing from the service message.  In fact, let me relate the story about the old lady and the campaigning politician who trampled through the village in the broiling midday sun and knocked at the old lady’s door.

“Mums, you now, from the time I was small, I wanted to help people, but I need your support,” he said with the eagerness of a newcomer on reaching friendly territory. Her face was immediately washed with relief and she replied in a voice marked with the deference yesteryear folk reserved for lawyers.  “I so glad to hear you say so cause …”

Almost whispering, she beckoned him closer, and then added: “I was here waiting for my granddaughter to come and throw out de ‘topsy’, it full from last night, see. Come, Son, let me show you what to do!” She hobbled towards her bedroom; him following. (A former politician told me this.)

Few ‘topsies’, if any, are used in Barbados today; water toilets are as common as there are avenues outside of politics for rendering community service. Sometimes politicians repeat statements believing they would earn points with electors but they merely attract cynicism. This service mantra from a politician is one that too often rings ‘hypocrite, hypocrite’ if not backed by tangible evidence.

Politicians, your record speaks of past and present works while your plans for helping the constituency and the country indicate your intentions for future service. Being a politician shouldn’t force you to go against your grain to look good or to please people, especially since the statistics may reveal the frequency of your human touch as an event occurring once every five years.

And please, you shouldn’t feel obliged to carry out a “poh”, if you don’t want to; fire a drink in a rum shop when you are known to be a soft-drink man; give a man money to buy beers, when you believe that money should go to the five children he does not financially support; nor should you feel you have to hit every ‘willing’ woman because some Barbadians see sexual encounters as part of the campaigning trail.

…Above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”  That advice found in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was given by Polonius to his 18 year old son, Laertes who was leaving for Paris.


3 thoughts on “Losing the mask

  1. I was told he wanted the vote and it was only to the pit toilet outside. Pit toilets were fairly common place, then. I was told that politicans then like now are humble people.

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