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A Quiet Revolution?

By NICOLE BURROWS

Probably the best oxymoron I’ve heard in a while.

Let me backtrack here with a little backstory.

Lately and repeatedly, while watching the Groundhog Day-like news, no matter which newscast you turn to, comprised of the same ridiculousness over and over again, the same political and social responses over and over again, with no resolution for weeks, months, and years, I’ve wondered and am constantly wondering what exactly it will take to move the people of this country in the clear direction of acting on their severe dissatisfaction with the establishment, to the point where they seek to make drastic changes, both sudden and severe.

As regards the level of crime we experience now in our country, is it merely a reflection of the years of unresolved or poorly resolved frustrations of citizens who have been pulled up and led by the ear or the shirt collar?

I used to laugh at my mum when she changed the channel in the middle of a news report, especially when her old schoolmate and current leader of the nation appears on the TV screen, but I’m starting to see why she does it. It’s intolerable. Now I’ve arrived at the same threshold, where I battle the need to hear what’s transpiring in the country with the need to change the channel so as not to hear our nation’s tiresome Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, the Official Opposition Leader, and all their sorry teammates… the by-the-wayside people who function as nothing more than bench-warmers. I cannot scare up enough pride in them to vote for another one in the next general election.

Aren’t these people supposed to inspire us? So why do they engender such feelings of hopelessness? If the only thing they make me feel is defeated and disgusted, what are the younger people feeling… those who haven’t had the good or bad fortune of time to see the true colours of their leaders? Surely, if the masses of people felt the same way I do now while watching the news, they would not vote for them either in the next general election. But do they feel this way? I’m hearing that they do, but I’m not seeing it.

Is it that the vast majority of people in my country are too ignorant to fight, I mean truly fight, with tenacity and longevity, for what they believe in? Are they too indifferent to the cause, so numbingly indoctrinated that nothing matters to them? Or are they far too docile… you know, like the Arawak Indians were in The Bahamas… the extinct indigenous people? Who were bought out with material goods, then slaughtered for their land and natural wealth? Am I seeing a pattern? (Salt, aragonite, fish… does pride count?)

Fast forward to last night where a conversation erupted on Facebook, initiated by a post made by one of our younger, more eloquent radio talk show hosts, underneath which it was mentioned in the conversation thread that our country needs a revolution… a quiet one.

A quiet revolution? What is that? That descriptive riles me. And I realise that my reaction may come as a surprise to those with the perception that I am someone who is only quiet, delicate, and polite, but, to me, “the quiet revolution” is the same thing as saying, well, “pursue your dreams, but not for too long”, “Stand up for justice, but sit when they ask you to”, “Say what you honestly think, but don’t offend anyone”.

What is a revolution anyway? What is it supposed to be/be like? Should it be quiet and easy, or should it make your ears ring and challenge you? Forget about your British and American dictionary definitions for a moment. You are sitting in the middle of a country breaking apart at the seams. It is your country, the only one you have. You have no other citizenship or second passport. You don’t have a diplomatic passport. You have nowhere else to live and illegal migration is not your choice of lifestyle – not yet, anyway. Your livelihood and, quite frankly, your precious life is at stake, along with the lives of your loved ones. Everywhere you turn, people are poorer, sadder, sicker, weaker… does that not bother you to the point of rage? What does your gut tell you about what needs to be done about the condition of your country? Is it time for revolutionary thinking yet? When revolutions have changed destinies... the futures of tens of thousands of people, have they been quiet?

The simple fact is that anyone in control/power is there because they, or others like them, exerted themselves and fought off others unlike them, pretty noisily, to be there. Wherever there has been no widespread revolutionary change, people are and remain dominated.

“Revolution” is about who can obtain power through change, or who will retain power with the status quo. The dilemma for us in this little plagiarised nation is how do you make change when the masses see nothing wrong with and want the status quo?

Revolutions throughout history have been triggered by the same set of factors every time, which most often include corruption, which inevitably results in a struggle between social classes (driven by economic segregation), and economic depression. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling fairly depressed all around, and I’m guessing it has a lot to do with the fact that no matter how hard I/we push ourselves forward and go about things the right way in this country, it matters not in the end, because the pockets that are filled are on the pants of the corrupt and are not filled through honourable means.

As is the case with corruption, the historic triggers for revolutions and revolutionary wars have centred on economics, slavery/ freedom from slavery and independence, land ownership and territory disputes. The resulting revolutionary acts do not include peaceful and orderly changes which occur within the existing institutions of government, where the citizens can exercise democratic rights in free elections or other mechanisms as given by their nations’ constitutions. On the rare occasion that revolutionary acts are peaceful, the outcome is sluggish and slow to fruition.

By and large, revolution is rapid.

It is immediately transformative, changing institutions and authorities, and most often violent. And, maybe what we’re seeing today, with our current levels of crimes in varying categories, is, in reality, a part of our revolution.

I do not condone bloodshed; I believe mature, responsible, leaders and citizenry who want the best for their country can achieve what they must through peaceable means. But, in the same reality, the majority of leaders, citizens, people, are not mature, or responsible. Acting out is often their only way out. Their acting out, their violence, is their transformation, albeit misdirected. Violent criminals transform their world by acting violently towards the people in their world, when, to them, nothing else will suffice. When enough people feel this way, and acts of aggression increase, one of two things can happen: you can harness the aggression and join together to form a formidable force against the prevailing authority, or you can act in independent, single events of aggression and get tossed into the bottom of the barrel to rot in prison, or miraculously (as is often the case in this nation) escape punishment for your severe acts of aggression and go on being a single aggressor until it leads to the end of your own life.

Undermining authorities is a concept that we learn in the civilised world is unacceptable. Not undermining authorities is what is meant to keep the peace in a civilized society, because, if everyone acted out, then no one could effectively be governed. In our civilised 2015 Bahamas, undermining authority is an unfamiliar, unexplored concept for people routinely taught to stay in their respective places.

But undermining authority is the heart of revolution. It is done when the level of perceived unjustness is so great that many people – usually led by one person at the start – seek to make simultaneous, drastic changes.

In a nation used to fighting for their rights, this would inevitably lead to change. In a nation unaccustomed to fighting for anything – food, shelter, or rights – there is no change; there is precious little that leads to change. The change that comes out of this type of nation is not transformative. It is certainly not rapid. And it is ultimately ineffective.

But, where do you draw the line between change and status quo, between inciting revolution and keeping peace?

Tell me, again, where are those Arawak Indians?

• Send comments via Tribune242.com or nicole@politiCole.com.

Comments

asiseeit 3 years, 11 months ago

Very interesting. The sad part is the fact that the leaders have no idea how angry the people really are. This country is getting very scary.

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bahamalove 3 years, 11 months ago

Ms. Burrows, I can't really figure it out myself either. It seems like our people are so used to seeing our politicians as some demigods that they have automatically assumed subservient roles, grateful just to be acknowledged by the people we actually hired! But can this just be a trait of small island nations that are considered too laid-back with 'chill' attitudes? If we look at our neighbors in the region, quite a number of Caricom member states are also suffering from bad governance. But I can't think of any besides Haiti where there are any frequent demonstrations against the government. Does it take us getting to the dire situation of a Haiti before we become activists in our own country? With all the scandals and incompetence that occurs in our Country, Rawson Square shown be constantly filled with 'Revolutionaries' demanding change. Maybe this is just something that 'First World' developed countries do. Our politicians have always said in the past that they want to take the Bahamas to 'First World' status. Maybe they should be careful about what they wish for.........................

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Publius 3 years, 11 months ago

No such thing as a quiet revolution. Change is not silent or obscure, nor can it happen without sacrifices and casualties of some kind, be it life, comfort, status, positions, etc.

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Alltoomuch 3 years, 11 months ago

Maybe the leaders don't care how angry the people are - maybe they really want to see just how far they can push before something truly happens. Look at Bamsi - do they get the picture?? Does that building truly look safe to build back up on?

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duppyVAT 3 years, 11 months ago

Nicole dear, please turn your TV channel and watch the US Congress members .............. SMH

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Honestman 3 years, 11 months ago

The people are not angry enough. If they were REALLY angry there would be mass protests on Bay Street bringing a complete halt to commerce and the functioning of government. Bahamians prefer to do their complaining on radio talk shows instead of out on the street. We have only ourselves to blame for the current state of affairs because we reward incompetence and dishonesty by re-electing those responsible. Until we ditch these useless, outdated politicians, the people will continue to suffer. Nothing will change until we reach rock bottom and find the courage to say we have had enough and we ARE going to do something about it. In my view, rock bottom is not far away!

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avidreader 3 years, 11 months ago

Let us be very careful when we use the word "revolution". Remember the Russian saying: "When the pot boils the scum comes to the top". What we are seeing is the frustration of the younger generation which is suffering from the neglect of the country's education system for an extended period of time. This neglect has benefited a few ruling families and dynasties while retarding the advancement of generations of youth and of the country as a whole. As for the level of incompetence complained of by Ms. Burrows I can comment that I saw the same situation many years ago and with the benefit of hindsight I can state that very little will change until a strong spirit of reform sweeps across this small country. Can we depend upon the generation of Ms. Burrows to form the necessary political parties to bring about the badly needed reforms? Let us hope that those new politicians will be better educated and more ethical than the existing crop.

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duppyVAT 3 years, 11 months ago

We need to tear up the present Constitution and create a modern system of true participatory and representative democratic governance where the PM is not a dictator in disguise.

Pindling was out of the same mould as the other pan-African black leaders who led many of their countries down the path of social destruction under the disguise of democracy.

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