This week, as members of the Islam faith celebrate Eid al-Adha, there can be no better time to speak to the importance of personal sacrifice for the good of the larger community now.
And it is especially for this reason that I am honoured to be able to join Muslims in Barbados and around the world in commemorating this most important occasion on their calendar. Our world today has become a much more challenging place for so many of its inhabitants because too often we accepted selfishness over selflessness.
Eid al-Adha, which has its origins in the willingness of the prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael on the instructions of his God, presents an alternative pathway to a better destination — a world in which the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters is as important to each of us as our own.
In a world where COVID-19 has brought untold suffering to every corner of the globe, we know that a return to “normal” — even if it is a new normal — will depend on more selflessness and less selfishness by every citizen.
We can all choose to always wear our masks in public because we don’t want to put others at risk. We can all choose to sanitise and physical distance because we do not want to jeopardise the welfare of our loved ones. We can all choose to be vaccinated because we know our economy, and consequently, our neighbours and friends will continue to suffer financial hardship if we don’t push back against the virus.
The same is true for many of the other challenges we face as nations. The climate crisis, the looming debt crisis, the distribution of wealth, the formulation of policies that cut across geographical lines, will never be addressed while nations and their leaders are selfish in their approaches.
Eid al-Adha, the “festival of sacrifice” is sacred to Muslims, but the message ought to be universal, regardless of our religion, ethnicity, economic status, or station in life. After all, isn’t man always at his best when the very essence of his daily existence is about serving others?
To all members of the Muslim community, on behalf of the Government of Barbados, I wish you well as you celebrate. To Barbadians generally, I invite you to consider how much more good we could add to our society if our daily decisions included a thought on selflessness.