Writing about the necessity of change, Fikayo Adeyemo, President of Precepts of Life Ministry, Inc. noted that change is one of the fundamental principles of created life. He proposed that change was ordained by the Almighty himself as the path to growth and survival.
Adeyemo notes: “Unfortunately, the problem is that we only pay lip service to it. Typically, human beings, while touting change, actually love to abide in their evil status quo, even when it’s killing them, rather than take the uncomfortable trouble of change.”
God-ordained change may be, but the average Bahamian, while constantly claiming allegiance to heaven, would rather take long mental and physical detours to avoid any evolution whatsoever. As a result of this change aversion, The Bahamas is practically in stasis, standing outside the door of the 21st century, while many categories of its people refuse even to knock for entrance.
Automatic bellyaching is the order of the day. Take the reaction to the present government’s plan to rejuvenate the old townships we term “Over-the-Hill”. Imagine the shock of reasoning minds, when a number of citizens of the area being interviewed by reporters declare their rejection of the proposal to install indoor toilets and running water in homes that were never blessed with these vital aspects of sanitation. There were those who proudly held that the public standpipe was central to their socialization with neighbours.
Since the proposal of a rise in Value Added Tax, members of her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition—actual and recently deposed—any number of accountants, businesspersons and civil rights activists have termed the increased tax rate a lead in to all-encompassing disaster of the magnitude of the Christian Judgement Day or the Norse Ragnarök. As usual, we are oppressed by automatic negativity in the face of change. Where are the serious, believable counter proposals? Why not spend the time on generating short-term alternatives for a problem that is urgent and subject to serious sanctions from without? Nebulous talk of building investment simply won’t suffice, especially when it’s dependent upon the good graces of foreign investors who may now be growing shy of putting money into a fairly peaceful country, which now seems hell-bent on equating modernization with civil unrest, aping the Third World example.
The likeliest truth is that we are locked in a steel cage of spite, antiquated beliefs, laws and political, economic and administrative systems, which shut out vision and voices of reason, hampering forward movement and progress. The bars of our prison have been forged by those who seek control over the people’s minds to promote a mixture of political, economic, religious and social agendas. Then there are those who accept the control because dependence and other negative psychologies have been bred into them or helps them to deny all responsibility for self or for contribution to the common good.
Prominent in the wars for control are the power-hungry politicians who secretly view democracy as a barrier to their desires for despotism, which would allow them to co-opt for themselves all the country’s resources with impunity. Guiltiest are the tired old lions, who can’t any longer count on efficacy of claw, so they roar continually, predicting disaster, which they themselves have set loose.
Then there are merchants whose insatiable greed can only be satisfied by ensuring that consumers remain chained to the cash registers of their enterprises. These offspring of pirates keep prices high and mount equally high barriers to prevent newcomers from competing on their ancient turf and succeeding.
It seems that daily new preachers arise who take their texts strictly from the Old Testament and use threats of fire and brimstone to keep gender inequality high and the sums coming into church coffers even higher. The latter case might not be offensive, if the greater proportion of such funds were used for the uplift of members of their congregations and the wider community.
Ever present are those burdened by one form of prejudice or the other, who would be satisfied by nothing less than the maintenance of social castes that keep segments of the population from any pretension to equality and freedom for gruelling in their own homeland.
It is necessary also to recognize those insidious persons who infiltrate the ranks of well-intentioned and necessary civil rights lobbyists to foment unrest for some craftily camouflaged personal goal having little to do with the benefit of their supporters or the nation as a whole.
As mentioned earlier, dependence is the essential twin of people-control. Dependence among the populace is one of the legacies of slavery and colonialism, which cultivated dependence in those they enchained to squash any thoughts of freedom. Long after their supposed demise via emancipation, national sovereignty and the country’s claim to a place among democratic nations, those twin repressors of freedom manage to survive because many believe that they are not entitled to liberty.
Equally counterproductive is dependence cultivated in the population by aspirants to political leadership and economic supremacy. These types put and maintain cadres of Bahamians in intelligence and personal responsibility-suppressing comas with a constant flow of lies. “A vote for us will build and maintain schools, enhance health care, provide social uplift and put a chicken in every pot. The need for taxation is an evil lie of our political rivals. No need to lift a finger, no need to contribute.” What works equally well or even better in pulling the wool over the eyes of the susceptible is the pie-in-the-sky “eight piece of six and four.”
Then there are those who seek dependence and year-round Santa Claus because they find work distasteful.
Although all these obstacles to a healthy economy, society and nationhood are as plain as the nose on one’s face, we engage a number of circumventions to excuse inaction and keep positive change as a beggar dependent on penny handouts. The first is simple denial. None of the foregoing is true—such talk of a sick economy is simply the vitriol poured out by the frustrated, the ‘haters’.
Then there is the blame game. Social and gender inequities, the drain on the public purse through profligate spending and misappropriation, as well as persistent poverty are attributed to any number of miscreants, be they political rivals, any taxation or demand for raising the quality of citizen participation, racial discrimination and religious unsophistication. The latter is the best choice for non-believers and those self-endowed sophisticates who hold religious adherence and intellect to be incompatible.
It’s time for a change. Change we must, if our country is to compete and survive in the 21st century. Topping the list of building blocks of positive and sustainable development is education—an education that promotes analytical thinking for oneself that is not swayed with every new political wind and slogans like “Keep ya corn’ beef”, especially when you demanded the maintenance of corned beef on the protected breadbasket list just weeks before.
Secondly, we have to give a primary place to civic education at every age level—from primary school through retirement. Let’s begin with the simple concept—If you put in nothing, you get nothing. Generating something from nothing exists only in the realm of magic tricks, counterfeiting currency or divine intervention. Equally important is the reality that we, as human beings, are all connected. Human systems are all connected. If one link in any of the chains of being is weak, we are preparing for systemic failure that will eventually touch all of us. When things blow up, not even wealth can sufficiently insulate one against the consequent fallout.
By all means complain and march peacefully, but only permit yourself to do so after a thorough, intelligent investigation to get hold of the facts of a situation. Once the realities are understood, begin the move forward by proposing viable solutions and not by getting rowdy and tossing a bucket of water on Members of Parliament. Understand that at various points on the journey of an individual or national sacrifice, detours, going back to the drawing board become necessary to bring on a better day. Lastly, unless you live in Wonderland, work, teamwork, quality production and dedication to the common well-being are unavoidable. Simply put, let us renew or develop a passion for doing and doing good. We can do this.