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Forget 2017 – The Time is Now

This week was a particularly frustrating one for me. It is a very difficult thing to watch the government of the day conduct itself in a way that brings threat to our economy and livelihood, and shame to our name throughout the world. It is even more difficult to watch far too many of us sit in fear and indifference as this goes on, too scared or disinterested to stand up for ourselves and our country.

Whether we as Bahamians realise it or not, though slavery ended in British colonies in the Caribbean 178 years ago, many of us still carry a slave’s mentality, and that mentality manifests itself in many ways – not the least of which being the way we approach our personal responsibilities in life and how we look to a boss, a master or in this case a politician to do for us what we are supposed to do for ourselves.

The hardest thing for a person to do is be honest about who they are, the good and the bad. If many Bahamians would be honest, their mindsets and outlook on life are the key reasons they are not progressing. Our biggest enemy is us, not someone else coming in to take over what we won’t lay hold of through hard work, education and self-sufficiency.

But instead of approaching this reality head on, we rather sit back and rely on someone else to do our thinking for us. For The Bahamas, all we have managed to do over time is replace European slave masters with Bahamian ones.

We see it all the time. A politician is supposed to pay our bills. A politician is supposed to make sure our children are raised right. A politician is supposed to keep our personal space clean. A politician is supposed to tell us what our future is. A politician is supposed to tell us when to speak, when to gather as Bahamians, when to fight and when to sit still.

The reason many Bahamians are sitting almost like zombies as they watch their rights be abused, their economy threatened, their sensibilities disrespected and in the case of government workers, their dignity stripped down to slavery status by working without pay, is that Bahamians are waiting on someone to give them permission to stand up for themselves. They are waiting on the “masters” to tell them it is okay to fight, and that they will be allowed to fight without being beaten in all the ways a modern day Bahamian can be beaten.

Bahamas, in 2013 you need to understand one thing – as long as you behave like a servant, you will be treated like a slave. What is saddest about this is that we as Bahamians are given power once every five years in the form of a vote, and it is at this time when we feel most in charge.

One day in 1,825 (five years), we get up. And then for the rest of the 1,824 days, we sit back down and look to our “masters” to take control of us. It’s one thing to have freedom – it’s another thing to know what to do with it.

Lazy in Democracy

Who lied to you and told you as Bahamians that we need to sit and wait for a general election to be called to let the government of the day know what we want and what we feel about their governance? Who lied to you and told you that once you elect a government there is “nothing you can do” about anything the government is doing and you just have to sit and accept it until the next election?

Democracy as the famous saying goes, is not a spectator sport. If you want to remain free, you have to be an active part of that freedom, not someone who surrenders his or her freedom to the people you elect to office. Nobody is going to do for you what you will not do for yourself, and no one is going to care about your rights if you don’t – always remember that.

If you simply sit back and wait on your “masters” to protect you and give you what’s yours, you have the wrong posture. That is the posture of people who live under dictatorships or communist regimes – people who do not have the freedom to speak and assemble and demand that their government be accountable to them. This is the posture some politicians love, because then they can govern with fear since you see them as your principal means to having most of what you need.

In the midst of all the mess happening around us, I hear Bahamians say: “boy wait till 2017”. That statement is potent evidence of how we think as a people: wait until election day to put in one “master” over another, after which time we will sit back and expect them to be the captain of our hearts.

And then if we don’t like how they are running our lives, we’ll just pick another “master” and the cycle continues. The leaders may change, but the voters are not changing – not where it matters most.

Bahamians today are saying they are tired of the nonsense they are seeing every day, but that is not true in many cases. If we were truly tired, the world would know it, because we wouldn’t be sitting back behind closed doors complaining about what we do not like. Every politician in this country would know in no uncertain terms that you are tired.

Those of us who are standing up and speaking out are those who politicians want silent, and the reason is obvious. If Bahamians ever let go of the servant mindset, politicians will never have an easy road from here on in, therefore anyone who has a hand in opening the eyes of Bahamians is seen as a threat.

Why do you think the government is talking foolishness about creating a special law to police social media when social media regulations across platforms as well as libel and slander laws already provide the avenue for grievances to be dealt with?

They are doing it to scare you into being quiet, making you think they can lock you up if you say something on Facebook or Twitter that they don’t like. It cannot happen. It will not happen. They just want you to think it will to shut you up. It is their way of telling you that you have no permission to think and then speak.

What the government recently did to COB students at Cabinet Office then at Parliament is also a good example of how politicians try to keep the citizenry in line – using the police to invoke fear by barring you from your rights. We are seeing this government do that more and more with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, giving the orders then standing back and allowing the Force to take the fall. They are increasingly using the Force as their personal militia; utilising the Force as an arm of their will to repress and oppress.

Do you realise why the government feels so free in doing this though? It is due to our mindsets. You have the power to make the government, but you then surrender your power to the people who are only there because you put them there. Do you see now why things are the way they are?

The reason the government and its agents feel comfortable doing what they are doing to you is that you as a Bahamian are giving them that comfort. If we stop allowing them to be comfortable in their seats, they won’t feel so comfortable abusing us from those seats. As long as you behave like a servant, you will be treated like a slave.

Stand Up – Together

If you are not being paid – why are you sitting quietly coming to work everyday and giving the government comfort in abusing you? Because “you need your job”? Your job is not paying you. You are begging while going to work nine to five. Employment without pay is illegal in this country. Only slaves work without pay.

We talk about the “white man”? Our government is black – the black man is the one who has you in modern day slavery. You are a Bahamian in 2013 begging for your own salary from your government. Stop begging and start standing up for yourselves.

If you are being ignored by your MPs – why are you just sitting and taking that? You hired them. Why are you allowing them to disrespect you? When your phone calls for assistance are ignored, then your phone calls need to become your protest. We need to begin to call these government offices where our MPs hide out – call all day, every day, repeatedly until they get so tired of the phone that they have no choice but to start humbling themselves and making provisions to see those who gave them their job. Those offices and those phones belong to you – you paid for them.

You give your MP $1,500 per month to operate a constituency office to see you. That’s your money. Why are you content to let him or her take your money and not do with it what you are giving it to them for? Stop begging. Get together as free Bahamians and go to your office and demand your employee (MP) comes down there to see you. One person may be ignored, but what about 50, 100 or 200?

Do you really believe that if you as Bahamians finally stop complaining behind closed doors, get together as a unit and take a stand for what is right, that the government will just fire all of you in one go? They will not and cannot do it. Do you really believe that if you stand as a unit, the government will just throw hundreds of you in jail all in one go?

Why are you as Bahamians afraid to prove what peoples of nations all over this world have already proven, that there is strength in numbers? Some Bahamians don’t want to speak out because they fear they will be all alone and no one will fight with them. That is a legitimate fear. The answer to that is for Bahamians to stop cowering in fear and hiding, and come out together and demand that your government does right by you.

We say, “it don’t make sense talking cuz these MPs een ga listen no how”. Of course they are not going to listen – who listens to people complaining behind closed doors and then when we see them it’s “yes sir, yes sir”? What have you done to truly make them listen to you?

Only servants cannot tell their masters what to do. You do not elect people to live your life for you, feed you and pay your bills. You elect them to do a job for you. You are the master, not them. And if they are not doing the job you put them there to do, you don’t have to wait until 2017 or whenever a general election is called to make them know and understand that.

You don’t have to wait on a politician, PLP, FNM or DNA to move before you move, step before you step and act before you act. If they won’t move then they can move out of the way, but Bahamas it is time to find your voice and stop seeing yourself as a servant to the people you hired.

Forget 2017. The time for Bahamians to wake up is today. The time is now.

Tribune Column by Sharon Turner

Posted in Opinions

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