We at The Tribune take delight in using the opportunity of our last publication before Christmas Day to send Season’s Greetings to our readers, friends and colleagues.
The approach of Christmas amid declarations of ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all men’ reminds us that while Christians believe in the power of redemption through the birth of their Saviour they also regard this as a time to show gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon them.
At this festive period, people focus on the forthcoming celebrations involving feasting and merriment and the sheer joy of family and friends coming together in love, harmony and fellowship. But, this should also be a time for reflection and appreciation, since as Bahamians we have much to be thankful for as a nation – in the American lexicon, development of “an attitude of gratitude”.
Most importantly, despite an unacceptably high level of crime, we should be grateful for the day-to-day general peace and order of our lives based on a stable democracy under the rule of law and with relative prosperity enabling many to enjoy a good quality of life.
This past year has been a period of notable change with a mix of successes and setbacks and a hard-fought General Election. We can always be confident the outcome of an election in this country will be respected so that there is invariably a smooth transfer of power in accordance with our democratic traditions. We take this for granted, but we should recognise our good fortune in being spared, as a young nation, the type of political turmoil suffered elsewhere in the world that leads to the horrors of tyranny and dictatorship.
We are blessed as a country with the beauty of nature, surrounded by brilliant turquoise waters (some say the clearest water on the planet), coral reefs and pristine white beaches in our extended archipelago as well as blue holes, the third largest barrier reef, unmatched flora and fauna, outstanding fishing - the list goes on. We should value, appreciate and relish our unique environment and make it a national priority to nurture and protect properly what nature has provided.
It is all too easy to forget the achievements of talented fellow Bahamians but we should also applaud those who have achieved success in so many different spheres over the years, both at home and on the international stage – in the professions, the arts and in sports as well as in the commercial world. For a small country, The Bahamas has produced a disproportionate number of people who have excelled in their chosen field; and how many other countries can boast of a hale and hearty centenarian Olympic gold medalist?
With our background as a former British colony we have a rich and interesting history and culture. We should be proud of our heritage but at the same time recognise the important strides we have made as an independent nation responsible for its own development-- politically, economically and in so many other ways including building a free and fair society together with the infrastructure of a modern country.
Not least significant is the appearance of our capital city and the island of New Providence. Despite the critics and the naysayers who complain about the deterioration of East Bay Street or the potholes in too many of our roads, our general propensity to neglect maintenance and cut corners in keeping our environment clean and well ordered, a visitor returning to Nassau today after a 20-year absence would be amazed at the recent improvements – the new airport, four-lane highways, a new university, Baha Mar, Atlantis and the development of Paradise Island with its fine new bridge, and a recent surge of construction with impressive new public buildings and private homes designed by local architects. Then, if the visitor ventured further afield, he would also be pleasantly surprised by new developments in some of our Family Islands, though it is true some of the smaller ones have been left behind.
Thus, notwithstanding a range of problems – from crime and high levels of poverty and social deprivation to widespread corruption, economic mismanagement and the absurdity in this relatively rich country of frequent power cuts - we have much for which to be thankful.
As Bahamians, we love to find fault. But, if we pause for a moment of meditation and truly reflect on the benefits we enjoy in so many aspects of our lives and be grateful in our hearts, perhaps we can come together more as a people.
While genuine debate is healthy and necessary, we need to put aside some of our political differences and divisive attitudes and seek to work together as fellow citizens for the good of our nation, both to build on our successes and also to fix those things which need to be rectified in one way or another. But, above all, we need to learn to love each other more in the Christmas spirit of peace and goodwill - and, at this joyful time of year, give thanks for our many blessings.
We wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.