By NICOLE BURROWS
SO MANY people talk incessantly about how they want this country to be better. There is unending dialogue, from every type of citizen, on what they think makes for a good or better country. Everyone has an opinion and wants their opinion heard, so much so that the wait time for talk radio callers’ queues requires that some people get their words cut off or must call back. And they are relentless in their intention to be heard.
But a lot of these calls are self-aggrandising, or just unbearable, and, when certain callers dial in to radio shows, I get really annoyed with their illogic or embarrassed and afraid of what I might hear next.
I am happy that people can feel strongly enough about things in an effort to contribute to their own development, but not everyone is coherent. And I don’t mean intellectually coherent, I mean mentally coherent … where simple thoughts make sense and basic cognitive awareness exists.
Again, I laud the initiative of all persons who want to be a part of healthy change, but I am horrified at the thought processes (or lack thereof?) of a wider public. The incoherence makes me so uncomfortable that I have to change the station until I think that person who is talking endlessly and saying nothing is done talking. And then I want to cuss somebody for making and keeping too many Bahamians so ignorant and mentally infertile.
And still, after all the chatter and spouting words about possible solutions to crime, how to make improvements to the economy, where to choke off illegal immigration, none of it makes an iota of difference in the general scheme of life.
So here are four things to do, if you want your country to change for the better.
1 Examine (your)self
Can you see who you really are? Are you able to look at yourself objectively, or are you distracted by the ideal you in your own mind or in other people’s minds? What are you about? What do you represent? What can you offer to yourself first and then to the world? What will it take for you to offer your best self to the people you care about – and even to strangers who could learn something from you?
The strongest societies are comprised, first of all, of people who take time to see themselves. They teach and learn their own history. They develop self-pride because of this knowledge. And they study themselves so that they know where to go and what to do next. They are interested in being great, and can do it without quashing people on the road to greatness. When they see who they really are, if they don’t like what they see, they don’t run away from it,
they try to improve upon it. They accept themselves as they are, they teach others to do the same and that builds a strong sense of identity and community amongst the people.
When you take the time to observe your gifts and talents, you learn how to study the environment around you and, in the process, build an innate awareness of and concern for yourself and the place in which you exist. Out of this awareness and concern comes a level of respect for self and fellow man that doesn’t have to be legislated or enforced by arbitrary rules of a modern society.
Each person has the potential to do incredible good in the world, but not without knowing and respecting their own relevance in the world.
2 Think independently and innovatively
Once you’ve learned and can understand who you are, you are confident enough to make important decisions about your life and the people with whom you share your life, and to think of new things, new ideas, new solutions to old or new problems, to achieve that “better country”.
Independent thinkers create a stronger, more resilient society, because they can find their own way through and around problems. They relieve the burden on the government, and, as a result, the unnecessary responsibility placed on government, and the interference by government in issues of private business and/or personal activities which do not concern them.
The worst part of not being an independent thinker is that if your mind is not freed/ independent enough to think for yourself, you will always be at the mercy of others to make decisions on your behalf, whether or not those decisions are of your choosing or in your best interest. If you can’t think independently, you become a “cog in the works” … just another piece of the social fabric and furniture … just another number in a society.
Worst of all, you become an easy vote for the politicians. You will be the one who is satisfied with holiday hog and poultry, $200 in a tee shirt and two cases of beer. You become what the political elite conceive of as “the common man”, and your vote en masse is imperative for them to win another election and repeat the cycle of keeping your thoughts dependent on their actions.
3 Challenge the norms and the establishment
No good progress can ever be made without good change. And not all progress is good. A cancer can spread progressively and kill you, much like your limited thinking ability.
If you don’t know who you are, what you stand for, and you can’t think on your own behalf, there is no way that you will be able to challenge the establishment in such a manner that it changes anything or anyone for good.
Challenging the establishment creates opportunities for civil participation which may never have occurred before, and the more civic-minded the individual becomes, the better off the people of the society will be. Challenging the establishment also creates opportunities for industry. Concerns about youth unemployment and substandard education, which makes them that much more unemployable, would be diminished, if there wasn’t such a restriction on the creative abilities of young people to devise more efficiency in all facets of society.
Further, a nation that disrespects or depreciates its own cultural value, by dismissing creative and performing arts and art studies, for example, as something you do “‘on the side of a real career, will never innovate or make improvements. The ideas that have changed the world have come from collective creative genius; the rest of the world has borrowed it in a full embrace, to the extent that they now feel they own it, too.
And, really, even though the patent and the credit does not belong to them, the end product of the amazing creative process has benefitted the entire world in a way that can never accurately be measured. And all because someone broke away from a stereotype or routine.
4 Create your own path
Creating your own path, of course, is also tied to thinking independently. In fact, creating your own path necessitates that you think independently. But, you have to first realise that something has to be different, and then realise and accept that you are that something. Your mind, your talent, your thought processes are ingredients to the remedy for any problem you can imagine.
If you want things to be better for yourself as an individual and for your country, you have to create avenues for that to happen. ‘Da gubman’ is not going to do it for you - they can’t. You need to identify that there is a new way of doing something and then set out on your own to prove it can be done. Anything you see as a failure of your government is something that requires you to pick up the mantle and get it done as best you can.
If what you are good at or love to do is not being done, create a way for it to be done. If you can’t work for someone, create a business or a job for yourself. And let it be based on what you are most impassioned about. If you choose a path along which you can always be content about the end goal of what you’re doing, you will not only be more fulfilled as a person, but you will also sleep better at night, unlike many corporate workers who have to lie to themselves and others in order to collect a pay cheque.
When you’ve come up from a place that forces you onto one path, then forces you to stay on that one path, then you never know the full experience of achievement, and you remain far out of reach of that “better country”. Best, then, that you create your own path.
• Send comments via Tribune242.com or to nicole@politiCole.com.