Earlier this week there was a little-recognized change in the status of the Caribbean island nation of Barbados. Since the independence of the island, the nation had (like many other former British colonies) been a part of the British Commonwealth with its ceremonial head of state being Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, while having its own parliamentary democracy that governed the nation. However, the island voted to become a republic, replacing the Queen as the head of state with an elected Governor-General who would now take the ceremonial office of president.
In a great many ways, this choice appears to be a tempest in a tea pot. The form of the government and the difference between a ceremonial head of state and a parliamentary head of government is pretty nonexistent. The real question is, can Barbados succeed better as an island that has cut itself from the British Commonwealth or would it gain more as part of a loose connection of other nations with the possibility of rising imperial preferences and trade deals in the aftermath of Brexit. It would appear to me that Barbados does not gain much as a nation that has cut itself off from the rest of the British Commonwealth, even if the West Indies as a region tend to be a group of islands that are in competition against each other rather than able to cooperate as a general rule.
What is gained by such a move? What political resentments in Barbados existed, and for who knows how long, about having even a ceremonial tie to Great Britain? It can be easy when it comes to matters of diplomacy how much matters of pride play a role in how nations behave. Barbados has an obvious imperial history with Great Britain and probably a great deal of resentment about being thought of as a fully independent nation, even if its options are limited to which large nation it will be associated with and somewhat dependent on for trade privileges and aid to improve its tourist industry.
It is important to recognize–as recognition does not appear to be very strong about this–that people tend to respond highly negatively to disrespect within nations and larger units and that these feelings of resentment can lead people to act against their self-interest in order to satisfy their wounded pride and dignity. Pride often motivates people in a stronger fashion than their well-being, and this means that acting in such a way as to preserve the dignity of other people so as to allow for the preservation of good relations in a way that serves the well-being of anyone involved. It is a shame that we as human beings tend to be so concerned about our own dignity and so little concerned with that of other people who can be easily led to resent us for slights that we do not even notice or reflect upon.