By Canon S Sebastian Campbell
Emancipation in 1834 was a beginning. But we all as a country are still in mental bondage. Shackles are still holding us, Lord, we continue to pray for deliverance, total deliverance. Let's sift through some of these shackles:
1. Inferiority complex
Far too many Bahamians are victims of circumstance, even if it's of their own making. Sad that there are many among us who feel and act as though they are nobodies. Many outsiders will come to our shores with very little and transcend many of us who were born here, albeit in challenging circumstances. Why do so many feel so helpless, to the point of impotence, that they never pull themselves up to feel and believe they are created equal to all their peers.
2. Superiority complex
Oh yes, this is a dangerous fellow who must be cut down to size and emancipated. Historically, the colour of one's skin was the most compelling reason for this. January 10, 1967 helped in their liberation, when for the first time whites found out that the colour of their skin was not a divine right to act as superior beings. But then too this superiority complex can be caused by the wealth one is privileged to amass or by the fact that one has a "big mouth" and can out-talk and shout others down. This causes a serious complex that is intimidating and evil. I dare say there are many mitigating reasons for this demonic complex. How do we ever drive home the point that all men are created equal.
3. Complexes of the sexes
As a country we have institutionalised the inferiority of women. Tragic that two governments have made a bid to correct our constitution on this issue and both attempts have failed. Women only have a limited amount of rights compared to men; there is still a far way to go. The irony is, women themselves voted against being constitutionally equal to men. We are in a serious bind. A new generation, free of political shackles, must and will emancipate us.
4. Political shackles
You can hardly find any great difference in political philosophy between political parties in our land. All have the same basic belief. This is tragic. I wish we did have a group with a strong socialist philosophy. This will have us adopt positive features from other advancing countries. In education for example, no child should be left behind. Education is for all the masses and should be free up to university level. The present government, in advancing universal health care, is bordering on such a liberating philosophy. Again, it might take a younger generation to take us over and beyond this petty politics culture we have to a more liberating norm where we can experience great advances politically. By now, for example, we should have adopted a republic form of government. To our shame it's not even in our conversation.
5. Financial bondage
Too many are in financial shackles, spending more than they make. The financial system exploits the minds of our people by encouraging them to take out loans for things (consumer loans), while creating very little avenue to propel persons to be movers and shakers in the economy. Deliverance from a "maxed out" life will cause a fresh breeze of joy to blow through the homes of our nation.
6. Religious gullibility
Amazing how religious leaders among us who cannot read and write can draw a crowd. Amazing too how fire and brimstone is preferred over an intellectually thought through presentation. Sad to have many Bahamians fall prey to wolves in sheep's clothing coming to us from foreign lands. The emotional state of our people must not be preyed upon and our people must simultaneously be taught to stand for something, and that God is a God of order.
Many of us are not as wise as we ought to be. Illiteracy still rocks us to our very foundation. We need emancipation from the dark midnight of an illiterate mind that leads to some even being unemployable. Keep a person 'dumb' then you can more easily control him. Slaves were not to be taught how to read and write, these were elements of their emancipated state. Much, much more must be invested in this aspect of nation building, not only by the government - they are doing a whole lot now - but more by people and institutions that daily involve the lives of people. Chief among them must be the local church in the local area.
8. Controlling forces
Controlling forces such as alcohol, drugs and sex can tear you down and cause real freedom to be only a dream. These forces prevail in our communities and they become slave masters to many and a cop-out to soothe the mind and help it not to deal in realities. These slave masters have hooked hundreds of our children. What a price we pay as we stand hopeless in being a liberating force.
9. Home and family
Its definition has changed right before us and we are too blind to see. Parenthood has been reduced to teenagers, and in some instances, even pre-teens. Grandparents are immature, in their early 30s now. Seventy per cent of our children are born out of wedlock; the average child knows no resident father. Broken marriages now threaten more than 50 per cent of those who manage to make it to the altar. Our crime rate will be more drastically arrested when we put a greater investment in home and family life. Here is where we need to double the investment.
Liberation from a godless mind will indeed set us free. Spiritual institutions must be intentionally built and revered. The place for God in family and national life must be unquestioned; worship must never be compromised or competed against nationally and on the homefront. All leaders should publicly proclaim their spiritual allegiance and live it out, especially leaders within our grassroots settings like our teachers, Family Island administrators, police, customs and immigration officials, civil servants, and yes, our elected and appointed political leaders.
Make God our guiding principle; in Him we should live and move and have our being. He sets us free, and if He does, we will be free indeed.