Let’s face it—2018 has made some of the strongest minded among us tremble internally or as Bahamians say “take with the nervousness.” In terms of human progress towards enlightenment—in The Bahamas and worldwide, 2018 has been a dud. In all likelihood, other members of the animal kingdom across the planet are probably holding congress to decide whether they should allow humankind to retain membership.
And they would have every reason to take set against us and request that we booted down to spineless amoeba status. If we judge only by the personalities and stories that have dominated media coverage, let’s say that ‘homo’ has been a good deal less than ‘erectus’.
Think about it—men and women are becoming knuckle walkers and chest beaters, outpacing gorillas in territoriality and belligerence. Yearlong we have watched with trepidation the erratic behaviour of a slew of heads of nations who seem eager to pull nuclear triggers to make widespread destruction their legacy. Even more disturbing, we have been an unwilling audience to the rise of warlords and guerrillas, whose manifesto for nationalism is written in murder, rape, thievery and manifold other forms of thuggery. Their dubious gift to the world has set millions in flight from their homelands to suffer more of the same from opportunists, whom they have the misfortune to encounter along the way to what they hope will be safe harbour. Peril has become a signal for open season on profiteering.
Unfortunately, many of the target destinations have proven to be dragons’ maws offering death rather than rescue. I cannot say who is to blame, but I mourn the passing of the seven-year old who died at the now infamous “border wall”. No Ellis Island for an exhausted young Central American who had no beef with anyone.
If we judge the 2018 performance regarding the protection of the planet, its natural resources and the other beings that share the home world with us, there is no chance for a passing grade. Seas are being choked in plastic and the ozone layer that protects us and our world from killing ultraviolet light from the sun are being eroded year after year by carbon emissions, mostly owing to our determination to keep burning hydrocarbons like oil and coal for energy. On this issue we have nothing but Paris Disaccord for defence.
Animal life hardly fared better under our ungentle lordship and stewardship. One Kind Planet notes: “For some species, time on our planet Earth is running out. Human beings are the greatest threat to the survival of endangered species through poaching, habitat destruction and the effects of climate change.” Imagine that—from Eden to extinction and for what? Mostly to feed human prurience. Yet, we pride ourselves on occupying the top of the sentient heap.
Can Bahamians claim superiority? Hardly. Blessed with sun almost year round, we have not yet harnessed its power on a national basis. For the most part, solar energy is off limits for the majority of Bahamians for want of administrative will. Burning oil at our premier electricity generating plant has greatly polluted Clifton Bay, surrounding land and quite likely the precious aquifer in the area. The protective hills and mangroves throughout our archipelago are being wiped out in the name of development. Increasing loss of mangrove and continuing bleaching of reefs means loss of nurseries and habitat for our marine life and major food resources that are not imported at great cost. Worse still, entire islands are on sale, which will translate into loss of living space for Bahamians of the future.
Grievously, human beings are also becoming an endangered species in The Bahamas with lordly thugs threatening to set our streets awash in blood in their turf wars with seeming impunity. The peace of our society and the progress of our economy are being hobbled not only from growing violence but also from the lack of political will to deal with key issues such as gender equality, freedom of information, legislated monitoring of corruption across sectors, especially in government agencies. And is it not time to make a greater attempt to stop the abuse that emanates from discriminatory treatment of difference?
Yet, there is much that is positive in our country today, much that we can celebrate and use to bring light and greater enlightenment to our homeland in 2019. What will open the door to light in the New Year? I take this opportunity to mention a few points and save others for the New Year’s Resolutions I hope to write.
We still elect our government democratically and in peace.
We still have people who recognize that our country, small though our population be, has men, women and children who still suffer food uncertainty on a daily basis. I salute those who don’t simply decry this plight but take action—74-member partnership of Bahamas Feeding Network, which includes a variety of churches, civic groups and other non-profits.
Is it not commendable that a civic group can rally airplanes and watercraft to aid much-stretched national services in the search for a downed pilot? Equally to be praised are those who effect rescues daily on sea and land at their own expense.
Also growing are the youth organizations that don’t just preach doom to young Bahamians, but tell them of their potential and teach them the skills to harness it. There are those who use literature, sailing, golf, art, dance, straw craft and more to express this invaluable and urgent message.
And we have an abundance of assets that could make “paradise” a reality for The Bahamas. Who better to judge than one who had the opportunity to view the entire planet from the International Space Station? When retired American astronaut Scott Kelly visited The Bahamas in 2016, he was reported as extolling its beauties in this fashion:
“There are other places where the water is blue and clear, but there is nothing like it is (in The Bahamas.) It is so expansive and so absolutely beautiful.
“I think one of the reasons why we know that aliens have never come to Earth is because they would’ve all been here in the Bahamas. If you’re going to land somewhere on Earth, you would land in the most appealing place from space,” Scott is noted to have said.
Scott put money to back his belief in the wonders of our country—On the closing night of the 15th annual Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF), December 2018, his cheque of $5,000 was presented to the Bahamas National Trust for the protection of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
Let all Bahamians follow suit in recognizing, protecting and preserving our magnificent assets—our people who are richly endowed with many talents and our abundant marine and terrestrial bounties. Let there be greater light in 2019. Let’s throw open wide the portals to grace and laudable humanity.