SOMETIMES life in The Bahamas seems to be always troubled by divisions.
We see it every day. People in red shirts arguing with people in gold shirts. Whose side is better. Which side did us wrong.
In the past week, regardless of who started the conversation, we have been reminded too of the racial divisions that we seldom talk about as we should. Sometimes too, we should be aware, those racial divisions are exploited by those seeking to stir people up against the other side. When labels are thrown around at the other side, it’s always wise to take a step back and ask “Really? Do they really deserve that label?”
We see too a divide between the rich and the poor – though the richest and the poorest might live only a few miles away from one another.
And yet once a year, we come together to mark our independence as a nation.
Across the country yesterday, there were gatherings of Bahamians – sometimes with tourists mixed in. At Baha Mar, there were fireworks to mark the day. Over at Atlantis, Marina Village was abuzz with a Bahamian mood. Cars everywhere fluttered flags from their mirrors. And at Clifford Park, the centerpiece celebration saw music, dancing, and that most precious thing, unity.
For wherever the event, one thing was a common factor – when the national anthem played, backs straightened, conversation stopped, and Bahamians lifted up their heads.
You see, for all those things that divide us, there remains more that unites us.
Of course, we might wish for more. We might wish the political tug-of-war that sees the electorate being pulled one way or the other over the finishing line would become more of a joint effort to pull the nation forward, with each party taking turns as the electorate decides. We might wish parties were there to hand off to the next, to say we’ve taken it this far, now it’s your turn, rather than to always be tearing down what the last one started.
We might wish for a party in power to be as vocal about transparency as ever they were in opposition, and truly let the nation see what is being done to take it further.
When we asked our readers, the same things kept coming up for things we might hope for – freedom of information, equal rights, transparency.
These are all goals worth reaching for.
For all the squabbles, for all the political bickering, when Bahamians stand united for the anthem on Independence day, there’s a pride that binds us. There was a time when independence seemed an impossible dream – yet that came true through the hard work of Bahamians.
When Independence is done, let’s remember that pride, let’s remember what Bahamians can do, and make today the start of making our nation a better place. And let’s do it together.