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 Bahamas Commentary

2003-06-21 04:24:59

The Beat Goes On

Why is our society so afraid of real change, so afraid of looking at itself honestly and making the necessary changes to those areas of civic and social life that have been holding us back?

Why does our country appear continually stuck or mired in psycho-social and religious problems of one kind or another, with very little hope of extricating itself from this weighty morass? Why is there so much anger, violence and labour unrest? Why is there such an alarming rise in child and spouse abuse and abandonment? Are all of these social and moral problems interrelated? Do economic conditions, politics, education and religion contribute to the proliferation of these problems in some way? If so, how, and can anything be done to reverse these trends, and how? Do we really want to improve our lot, or do we not have the moral courage, vision and know-how?

For many years some of us have been strongly advocating fundamental changes in our governmental and public service systems so that the above-mentioned problems could be more efficiently and compassionately addressed. In an effort to placate and silence the voices of change however, the protectors and beneficiaries of the status quo would make a stir here and there, making meaningless and superficial changes; but sooner or later everything would revert to the old comfort zone of lethargy and surliness.

Down through the years, this insidious monster of a system has done an outstanding job of systematically destroying the voices of change through intimidation, marginalization and banishment into the doldrums of retirement, sometimes "in the best interest of the service." Those whose voices could not so easily be intimidated into silence would simply have their contracts discontinued, even though they were well equipped to get the job done.

Why is our society so afraid of real change, so afraid of looking at itself honestly and making the necessary changes to those areas of civic and social life that have been holding us back? How much longer are we going to continue digging to get out of our socio-economic and spiritual hole? Rest assured we won't get out by continuing to marginalize and destroy advocates of change; nor will it get any better if we take the biblical fatalist approach that says these are the last days.

We have been given the talents to solve our problems; but we don't use them. We would much rather complain and blame others. It's the sissies coming to our shores who are causing the problems. It's the rap music from U.S.A., or Bob Marley's reggae from Jamaica, or the effects of MTV and BET; or it's America and its movies glorifying sex and violence.

Granted we are a small nation that has little or no effect on world trends in fashion, music and the like, but are we so weak and pliable that we have to suck up like a sponge, all the negatives or downsides of every culture to which we are exposed? If this is the case, then those forces that are supposed to form and entrench our values are failing to do a good job.

The time has come to move past complaining and blaming and begin to look at our society as honestly as we can, and ask what kind of society do we want to build. Then we should courageously put our shoulder to the wheel and start planning for the orderly development of that society, guided by the universal principle of respect for everyone at all times. Again we say a good start would be the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, which is a very hard pill to swallow for a people immersed in the philosophy of tit for tat or an eye for an eye.

Not very long ago we laid a great human being, Mr. Lou Adderley, to rest. From the highest halls of Parliament and the church, the virtues of this simple and very likeable and respected man were extolled. Our country, it was said, would be a much better place if more of our people would emulate his life, but did we really mean what we said?

Where meaningful reform of a cultural system is concerned, there is always pain in such a sacrificial effort. Ask Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and other such "profiles in courage." It is hardly likely that we will see such heroes as those mentioned above, rising up from the common ranks, because the political and social yoke upon our people is not as heavy. It is more likely that the catalyst for change will have to come from the political or religious ranks, but who among them is willing to be the sacrificial lamb.

The latest casualty to be such a catalyst was the Hon. Hubert Ingraham. It cost him and his party an election. Caution and conservativism are now the watchwords; and so meaningful change is hardly likely. We can therefore look for more and more complaining and finger pointing, with occasional Junkanoo festivities to ease the pain. Contrary to Shakespeare's Hamlet the fault might just be in ourselves and not in our stars.

Comments may be e-mailed to vlferg@batelnet.bs

Viewpoints, The Bahama Journal

 
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