As 2017 draws to a close, we reflect in this final commentary of the year on the uncertainties and challenges facing us here at home, together with fears about world conflict, as we look towards a brighter future during the coming months.
Last week, as we anticipated the peace and goodwill of Christmas, we urged our fellow Bahamians to give thanks for their many blessings. Not least, we should all appreciate living in a politically stable, well-ordered and relatively prosperous country despite the various setbacks and reverses of the past year including unacceptably high levels of crime, poverty and social deprivation. But, with another New Year almost upon us, this is also a moment to look ahead in a new spirit of cooperation and unity while we move forward as a nation to better and more rewarding times.
The sense of love, joy and peace in celebrating the birth of their Saviour that underpins the beliefs of Christians remains strong and enduring in this country even though, in modern times, the true meaning of Christmas has become increasingly obscured as the festivities become swamped by excessive commercialism. Gratitude, the practice of generosity and the care of others in need are gradually being superseded by an attitude of entitlement as people in Western countries become more consumer-oriented and expect their ever increasing demands to be satisfied as a priority.
At the international level, a heightened sense of inevitability has developed, with growing fears among some of unstoppable world conflict that could even lead ultimately to nuclear warfare and widespread destruction, if not annihilation. In such dangerous times, people are crying out for calm and considered statesmanship but are faced with uncertainty and potential confusion exacerbated by the presence of an impulsive US President as leader of the free world.
In the realisation, however, that small countries like our own are unable to influence, let alone determine, the direction of global events, it makes sense to ensure our own house is in order by concentrating on the fortunes of this nation during the coming year.
We seem to be at a turning point. A new government with an overwhelming parliamentary majority has an unprecedented opportunity to transform the country by more effective management of the economy and greater efficiency across-the-board after a long period of poor governance marked by unacceptable corruption.
After more than six months in office and now appearing to have made a sound start, the new set of politicians occupying positions of power have had time to settle into their jobs. At this stage, we implore them to respect, in particular, the need for humility. In its true meaning, this is universally considered to be a strength that implies an open and receptive mind and recognises that no single person knows all the answers. Those placed in charge of our country and its fortunes should provide much-needed leadership, but they must be careful not to overreach themselves as has happened all too often in past governments on both sides of the political divide.
At the same time, is it too much to expect that as a nation of less than 400,000 we might now try to overcome some of our traditional disagreements, differing opinions and conflicting attitudes and work together in a non-partisan manner for the overall good? We are too small a country to tolerate existing levels of divergence when we should be loving our neighbour, as the Bible bids us to do, in a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. But, above all, we need to reflect the qualities of decency, kindness, patience, faithfulness and goodness which should determine how we relate to one another and which we should teach our children as the basis for conducting their own lives.
It is said that pain, heartache and despair are part of the human condition. But, equally, it is within the power of human-beings to help to alleviate such suffering among others by bringing comfort to the needy, if only the compassion within us can be released.
As we urge our fellow citizens to come together for their mutual benefit and in the interests of our nation, we look forward to 2018 in a spirit of faith, confidence and real expectation.
We wish all our readers a Happy New Year.