By Sylvester Brown
The whole world wants to flatten the curve to achieve fewer infections of the deadly coronavirus as though that would somehow solve our predicament. Could it be that our egotistical curve towards self-aggrandisement, lack of consideration for others, “economy before lives” and our bent towards self-gratification not be the true rising curve that we need to flatten? Claudette Peters paints the picture in a line from her song, “I am moving on with me; this a me that, so chat to me back.”
Who would have thought a few months ago while enjoying the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations that air traffic would be restricted the way it is worldwide, that the cruise industry would come to a virtual standstill, that virtually all major entertainment and sporting events, Olympics included, would be cancelled and that hotels and restaurants around the world would close. One could not foresee that hundreds of thousands would die in a matter of weeks, millions would be infected and many more millions out of work. It was inconceivable that our stores and malls would be closed, highways dotted only with a few vehicles, and that we would be forced to wear facial masks and stand in lines six feet apart to buy food.
Should it not be that this pandemic would cause, not just us, but the leadership to examine this quest towards fixing things for me, myself and I. Would it enable us in this neck of the woods to bend our curve towards goodness and rightness, examining the true aims and objectives behind each action? Would it help us to avoid the mistakes that we have been making? Janill Williams, our once-promising long distance runner explained in a recent interview on the Good Morning Jo-Jo Show that “poor choices, and a decision to follow, instead of leading” were part of my undoing. She continued, “I got tired of training and it was me. I just wasn’t disciplined in life as I was supposed to have been.” Her words – the reasons for the failure of her promising career, are a cautionary tale. This could be our time to re-think.
Stay at home, isolation (quarantine) really equates to time to ponder, reflect and consider. It is said the virus not only affects the lungs, but the brain. Could it be the result of our accumulative “Stinking Thinking” particularly at the helm of our leadership? It must be an infection that causes leadership to not recognise the value of communal land ownership as established in Barbuda, or the failure to educate the population on the importance of common aims and objectives that we should all strive towards. It is seemingly a self-destructive virus that results in a people destroying their inheritance, giving away their lands, their God-given rights for a few “shiny beads” and paving the way to be servants to their new masters. Could the coronavirus be a huge stop sign to a world moving way too fast?
Flattening this curve requires more than ginger, turmeric, lemon, garlic and onion. Maybe this slow-down period could assist us to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for who we are, and what we have been blessed with. Could it be that as a people we have always settled for poor leadership? Is this why we are ‘down a creek without a paddle,’ even as we are being asked to ‘paddle our own canoe?’ What are we to require from leadership?
The late Kobe Bryant had three words on which he structured his team leadership – DEDICATION, PRACTICE and AWARENESS. Dedication: to the common objective of the team; Practice: Daily practice of the habits that would make us successful; Awareness: Awareness of others, their strengths and weaknesses. Kobe concluded that, “To be an effective leader, you have to be a really good listener. And not to what’s being said, but to what’s not being said.” One has to be really observant. That was a big transition for me: I went from being a scorer and a floor general to being a leader. And that meant putting others first. That means not worrying about: Are they in rhythm? Are they playing well in this game? Are they ready to go? A leader has to observe the team, because they all have things they want to accomplish as individuals. And, as leader, one must determine, “What are those things?” And, how can I help them accomplish that within the system, the structure that we are trying to do collectively.” Collectively, we can insist that we better ourselves and pray that well-meaning leadership be established. It can be said that the people get ‘the governance they elect;’ that is, leadership to flatten the curve or take it off the charts. Let’s take this time to consider our ways.