The continuing debate over the faux pas by Sir Roy Trotman, like the general narrative about politics and change in Barbados, has concentrated on what Sir Roy said and did not say, what he meant or did not mean, and the social damage of it all. Typically missing was the substantive point, a case of not being able to tell the wood from the trees.
This is not a national intellectual oversight, but one that goes right to the heart of a cultural tradition of learning by rote, reading and remembering, while missing the fundamental point of critical understanding and analysis.
As the late Czech philosopher/activist Vaclav Havel once said: “The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning – in other words, of absurdity – the more energetically meaning is sought.” In most societies searching for a deeper understanding of their place in history, the statement by Sir Roy, real or imagined, would have been the stepping off point for a serious discussion about the medium and long-term future of the nation. Instead, what we have seen is a concentration on the actuality and its elementary interpretation, rather than the substance – is our society changing and, if so, is it for the better?