By Allyson Maynard-Gibson, QC
I wrote this article on Father’s Day 2021 and publish it in independence week. In think that the musings apply to nation-building.
What does it take to build strong families, communities and nations? I believe that one of the essential components is males who understand the role of men in those institutions.
As I looked at men like the Rev Dr Emmett Weir, Dr John Lunn, Sir Charles Carter and Mr Roland Rose, I saw some common qualities.
The first is spirituality. My experience of all of them was that they believed that people were made to live in peace and harmony and to acknowledge a higher being, our creator.
Although Rev Weir was a staunch Methodist, I recall his commitment to ecumenism. One only has to read his book, “Praying the Lord’s Prayer Today”, to understand his belief in the importance and power of prayer. I’ve had many chats with Dr Lunn about religions and spirituality. He was a walking textbook on comparative religions. He wanted people to think about who they are and why they are breathing God’s good air. Sir Charles, too, embraced the concept of people as spiritual beings. Although from St Agnes, the cathedral in the south, he embraced and encouraged people of all faiths. One only needs to be in a room adorned by Roland Rose’s photographs, or to open his book, to be captivated by spiritualty.
The second is that each was a family man. They grew up in close-knit families and they in turn had a close-knit family. Each deeply respected his wife and was loved and respected by his children as a loving, encouraging and very present fathers (and father figures). I must specifically mention that each was proud of and encouraged their very competent wives, each of whom, in her own right, has made important contributions to national development.
The third is that each was patriotic. They loved The Bahamas and served her well, not only in their respective professional areas but in many others, including as mentors. They understood that it takes a village to raise a child. Many people have spoken about the impact that these men had on their lives.
The fourth is their spirit of excellence. Not one of them would settle for second best. People in their orbits have stated how these men encouraged them to excel. Each earned the respect of their peers nationally and internationally. We can agree that to earn respect in the national and international arenas is no small feat.
The final and fifth point that I will mention is lifelong learning. Rev Weir was a prolific op-ed and letter writer and author of many books. A review of his writings will reveal the depth of his knowledge in many disciplines. I think that Dr Lunn saw life as a journey and medicine, if practiced holistically, a means to understand and add tremendously to the quality of that journey. Sir Charles’ many careers and his “these are Bahamians” eloquently speak to his journey of lifelong learning. Mr Rose pivoted to the technique of digital photography and continued to showcase natural, inner or spiritual beauty in his photographs.
These men spent their lives teaching and learning with a spirit of excellence. They encouraged people to develop their intellect and God-given gifts.
These men and many men in their generation had these five and many other qualities necessary and desirable to build strong families, communities and Bahamas. They were role models.
We can ask ourselves whether today people value and encourage these qualities, especially in our men. If not, is this a part of the reason that we are experiencing such social dislocation?
Thank you, Rev Weir, Dr Lunn, Sir Charles and Mr Rose, for your lives and example.
May you rest in peace.