A nation cannot be built “on excuses for mediocrity and regrettably, we have accommodated and applauded mediocrity for far too long, in every conceivable sphere of our lives,” said former President George Maxwell Richards in a message in 2012.
That message, contained in the foreword of the 2012 programme of the Anthony N Sabga (ANSA) Caribbean Awards for Excellence, still rings true said members of the Regional Eminent Persons Panel. Richards’ message, especially in these trying times, the panel said, is an inspiration.
“I am not at all unmindful of the circumstances that are very real, at many levels in our social structure, which have placed many of us in survival mode,” Richards wrote. “But are we condemned to stasis, in that regard, so much so that we do not accept our responsibility to move the disadvantaged beyond their current status? On close examination we might find that genuine compassion becomes the excuse for not being the best that we can be. We cheer wildly at one-off successes and inertia becomes characteristic.
“Too many of us are yet to understand that silver and bronze are not gold. We are not sufficiently hungry for the excellence of gold or the gold of excellence. Excellence demands that our record of success is sustained, in whatever we do.”
The members of the panel, in joining the nation in mourning, described Richards as a man known for having the “ability to move between academia and everyday life with ease.” They noted that he achieved excellence in his own life and career, and was a vigorous proponent of hard work and high standards.
As a friend and supporter of the awards, they said, he received ANSA Caribbean laureates more than once on official visits during his tenure. The members of the panel, chaired by Sir Shridath Ramphal, and the management of the awards offered Richards’ family members comfort.