Wisdom, Truth and Prudence—We Need You

For some time now, I have been asking anyone who would listen, if they know where Wisdom and Truth have gone. Most just reply with a suspicious look, or head-shaking. All, whether in regret or glee tend to whisper among themselves, “She really gone this time!”

Can’t blame them, though. It’s too terrible to contemplate, but Wisdom, Truth and their BFF Prudence, that hardline, uncompromising but necessary trio seem to have gone AWOL. For certain, they are among the few things that have not gone viral on the Web. This fact is so frightening that if someone tells me that the sky is blue, I ask them to produce three witnesses with affidavits signed by a Justice of the Peace.

How do I know that the promoters of right thinking and action have gone a flit? When Wisdom, Truth and Prudence are present, so are their offspring: knowledge, sound judgement and discretion. On the other hand, when the triplet champions of good are missing, those signature virtues tend to disappear as well. In their absence, arrogance, perverse speech, evil behaviour and chaos abound.

Evidence of the latter is there—worldwide. In the United Kingdom, “Brexit” will soon be reduced to “Br”. With all their centuries of brilliance and stiff-upper-lip reserve and caution, the British can’t manage to effect the “exit” or admit that the majority of them had probably done too much pub-crawling before going to the polls to vote on a life-changing decision—such as kissing the European Union a less-than-fond goodbye.

How do they save face and admit they were wrong? Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London and ardent promoter of Brexit and building castles in air gave them this questionable lead: “Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a Titanic success of it,” Johnson was reported as saying. For those of you who don’t catch on quickly, the “Titanic” here does not mean “huge”, but refers to the supposedly “unsinkable” luxury vessel, which sank five days into her maiden voyage in 1912. Please do not let the day pass without checking out the Brexit-Titanic meme on Twitter. It’s brilliant and sobering at the same time.

The Brexit hash, bad as it is, pales in comparison to the state of affairs on the other side of the “Pond”, where the band is tuning up to play an “Autumn Leaves” requiem for democracy. One is forced to wonder…Does the “D.C.” of Washington no longer stand for “District of Columbia”, but for “Dead Crazy”?

When the inscrutable Chinese leaders, North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte are added to the lineup, we see emerging a growing tendency to dangerous global pissing contests. Are these leaders’ actions activated by some high-grade mood-enhancing magic? Frightening is the fact that two of them are reputed to hold doomsday buttons that can light up lives all over the globe. The likelihood is high. Seemingly hardwired in human DNA, hubris and one-upmanship are almost unescapable urges for some of homo-seldom sapiens race. It’s dangerous times, friends.

But who am I, as a Bahamian, to talk about hallucinogenic behaviour? Recent antics at home make me want to take up a “Please God Save the Nation” placard and set up a vigil in Parliament Square. I don’t want to get too close to the building, though—I believe that it too is infected with the current world-threatening plague. Has anyone checked the House of Assembly for black mould recently? May I suggest that a forensic chemist be hired to test the contents of the sugar cubes in the break room. Or, I wonder…was a hookah lounge set up in those august precincts?

Frightening thought, but what else but altered states could explain the many stoned comments and decisions, which have emerged from the House over the past seven years? For my favourite poster boy, I choose the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, who has given me the most ‘Say wha?’ moments of late. He has claimed that, just before the last general election, his political party had the ready-to-go solution for the salvation of the Grand Lucayan Resort and, consequently, for the rescue of the Grand Bahama Island economy. We are told that they had also formulated a plan to save Bahamas Power and Light and put electricity generation, distribution and pricing onto paths of righteousness. He can’t see why the present Free National Movement administration doesn’t just put the former administration’s developmental plans into action. Say whaaa? I see a new Marvel antihero movie going into production soon. Step aside, Deadpool!

These sallies are dead funny in light of the several downgrades The Bahamas’ international credit rating suffered at his administration’s profligate hand, which seemed to have spread largesse everywhere but to the people. Or was that actually an insidious plan—destroy the economy through a stream of chicken-headed decisions and unchecked corruption, then leave us pigeons to stew in the mess left behind?

Not at all funny are good Mr Davis’s press statements in his self-appointed role of chief sanitizing historian for the Progressive Liberal Party and as marplot of the current administration’s every attempt to solve the problems the ruinous free-for-all his party created. Here is the wonder of it all: Davis, as deputy leader, kept smiling and jovial, even as the ship of state began its nose dive into a nearly unfathomable ocean of debt.

And the band plays on…Note the Opposition Leader’s comment on Government’s decision to purchase the Grand Lucayan property under a mortgage agreement with the owners.

Those funds could be better deployed to touch the lives of Bahamians, particularly those in Grand Bahama, than using it for the acquisition of the Grand Lucayan properties.

It is fraught with challenges and the major challenge is that until such time as we address the critical fundamentals of what makes Grand Bahama tick or not tick, it is not a prudent move to make such an investment.

Several important questions come to mind—Firstly, what does he mean by “touch the lives of Bahamians?” Is he promoting the age-old strategy of Bahamian politics, which centers on giving handouts? If this is the case, his proposal goes against that valuable Bahamian adage—“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”

Where is the money coming from to “touch lives”—taking out a loan that attracts interest but no income? Mortgage The Bahamas’s future and still lose the house? What is Mr. Davis advocating? Deepening the pernicious culture of dependency that infects this country?

Is it not better to cultivate the independence that democracy stands for? Isn’t it better to create opportunities for continued direct employment at Grand Lucayan and for local independent vendors to supply goods and services to the resort or to the tourists the hotel may attract?

Now, as for the information blackout attending the Government’s declaration of intent to purchase—I can understand keeping mum, if negotiations are at that sensitive point where loose lips and not-so-smart thumbs WhatsApping can sink the SS Bahamas. Let’s hope, however, that this down time before full disclosure is being used to formulate the post-purchase “What’s next?” for the Grand Bahama resort.

Concerned citizens want to know: Will there be an experienced, non-partisan team of hospitality professionals with a track record of success to manage the property. Will they be savvy and intelligently responsive enough to address unforeseen issues that are highly likely to arise?

Consider also that unions in The Bahamas tend to think they are the only ones who should not make sacrifices in times of crisis such as those oppressing Grand Bahama currently. Are you and your members ready to assume the nose-to-the-grindstone posture, the ethics and excellence you will inevitably be called upon to demonstrate? There will be no other route to putting Grand Lucayan on a more secure, sustainable financial footing. Knock this one out of the park, Grand Bahama!

Is Government putting in place provisions for accountability and accurate reporting that can stand up to the most pungent, political lint-picking and international scrutiny? The biggest question: Is Government formulating, even before the contract ink dries, its exit strategy? Bahamian government administrations and hotel ownership have proven a contentious marriage at best, a relationship tending to terminate in bitter divorce and fire-sale prices on assets.

It must be said also that the current administration provides an object lesson for future politicians vying to take up the reins of power. Given the fact that this country has still not brought into force the Freedom of Information Act, they should have assumed that their predecessors could and did hide a lot of malfeasance under the deep cover of that omission—the Bahamian “Don’t ask because, sure God, we ain’t telling!” gambit. (You must have known this would happen—you undertook a raft of audits. Now, what about the results?)

Sage advice to ladies and gentlemen in waiting for the most-coveted seats in Parliament: Without rock solid information about the state of the country’s affairs or the contents of the public purse that will become your responsibility to manage, never promise paradise, when your parliamentary inheritance may be a doorway to a very dry season in hell.

When are we Bahamians going to stop “sperrit” economics and get on with sustainable developmental planning? I make bold to offer a few points of advice.

It may be difficult for an administration to appoint all cabinet ministers who are professionally expert in the field(s) that their portfolios represent, but at least ensure that they have a functioning mind or don’t crack jokes or fall asleep during discussions of matters of great moment to the country’s continuance.

Party councillors, banish from your election slate candidates whose minds are housed in a steel box with Fort-Knox level security and believe that party adherence is a ticket to ride on the gold train

Instead, improve The Bahamas’ chances for survival by assigning those weighty national offices to men and women who at least have the desire to learn and are quick studies. It would be preferable, if they have had at least a brief flirtation with the focal points of their portfolios—it need not be a full-blown romance. The same can apply to appointments to boards and high office in the large corporations.

What tends to skew leadership selection is the Bahamian habit of crediting with godlike knowledge and skills, political disciples and bearers of academic designations that seldom represent specific excellence and accomplishments within hailing distance of the job to be carried out. For God’s sake, let’s begin to appoint more people who will put the interests of our homeland and countrymen above the pursuit of power, lining their pockets and padding resumes.

Isn’t it time to develop Bahamian statesmen, who lean more towards “My country, tis of thee,” than “what’s in the national counting house for me?” Aren’t there still men and women among us, who are distinguished by high aspirations for the nation?

Are there not a few who do not view a seat in Parliament as a free pass to visit spite upon enemies, political and non-partisan? I’m watching five of the current crop of Cabinet ministers, whom I believe have the potential for launching a culture of true patriotism. Please do not disappoint.

Given the seriousness of our economic and social circumstances, isn’t it time to remove the nooses from the necks of Wisdom, Truth and Prudence and give them a primary role in governance, management and citizenship?

We might just have a shot at being the best country in the world, bar none.