By Malcolm Strachan
WITH a new year less than 24 hours away, the year 2018 will be behind us. A year filled with political blunders highlighted by the Oban fiasco, the surprise introduction of a 60 percent increase in value added tax, national tragedies as a result of a lack of impetus by successive governments to fix systemic problems, and - on the brighter side – a long-desired reduction in murders in the country.
Although the theory of Bahamians feeling safe can be argued until the cows come home, it no less looks like a win on paper for the Minnis administration – an administration that could certainly use some victories as this past year was not the smoothest of rides.
Despite the country still facing many of the same ills, this race must be broken into smaller segments rather than being thought of as a marathon. Otherwise, we will only be left feeling hopeless staring up the mountain of problems we face as a country.
Every year, we should be willing to reset our expectations as the idea of a new year alludes to new beginnings, or at least another chance to give it our best shot.
Assuredly, our expectations should not only involve what we desire to see from government. Equally as important, if not more, the standards we set for ourselves should also be renewed. How do we envision The Bahamas becoming the best place in the world to live – more than a marketing ploy to entice tourists? But truly, how can The Bahamas become a place where the generation of scholars that are opting to stay abroad rather moving back home to join the young Bahamians trying to find their way?
Sadly, far too often parents kiss their kids goodbye as they embark on their educational journeys abroad with one request – “Do not come back”.
How unfortunate! At the same time, can we blame them? Also, why are we so complacent and not fiercely fighting to make it different? Why do we continue to believe our only way out of this mess is on the backs of successive government administrations? Never has a notion been more self-limiting.
Realistically though, thus, is the state of affairs in the country: an existence whereby the majority of us agitate for change but are still not angry enough - not desperate enough - to evoke real change. Understandably, we are fatigued. We are exhausted by pandering politicians eager to secure our votes, only to later forget they ever sat in our homes and broke bread with us.
The taxing nature of this type of politics can easily cause a populace to become stuck in a cycle of monotony. We are simply tired of fighting, only to feel we’ve gotten nowhere. It is even more disheartening when a movement loses its momentum because those among the leadership have ulterior motives of advancing their own self-interests. This unfortunately only substantiates the self-fulfilling prophecy that Bahamians can’t come together and make our lives better, and instead we must continue to rely on our political parties that have not done so for decades.
When will we learn?
Nonetheless, it is incredibly important for us to renew our mindsets and continue to hope that if we can unite as a people behind common loftier goals, then anything is possible.
While the issues still plaguing the country remain the same, perhaps our methods for how we try to increase government accountability and transparency should be tweaked?
When I think of a movement that worked well in the country – We March always comes to mind. It was timely, it was driven by passion and most importantly, it sought to bring together Bahamians from all walks of life. Everyone that participated and supported the movement – thousands of them – felt a commonality of wanting better for our country.
Certainly, this was a rarity, as what is often seen is that Bahamians have a difficulty with not being able to get out of their own way. A popular book by an American writer called Ego is the Enemy discusses how in many situations in life, ego is one of the major contributors to things falling apart. This is evidenced by what we know to be interests that have obvious alignment hardly ever coming together because those at the top refuse to submit to the other.
Similarly, the We March movement is a shell of what it was after its leader became an FNM senator. While as great a disappointment as this was, it still presents a great case study of what can be done if we were to truly unite as a people and take back the power that is rightfully ours.
It simply comes down to this: How bad do you want it? That is the question.
Are you prepared to do the dirty work – the work that will demand the most of you? We have to perform internal audits and see how we contribute to the ills in our society, and once we diagnose our problems, we have to work feverishly to find permanent solutions.
We have to enter 2019 with the intention to love one another more, love ourselves more, and finally, love our country more.
This year can be a great one for The Bahamas. That is my hope.
But first, we must remember the change begins within you and me.
Happy New Year, brothers and sisters!