Am I my brother’s keeper?
I came across an article in a book one day. The cartoon inset captured a message that has forever been etched in my memory. It was the picture of two men in a little sailing boat. The man at the left of the boat was furiously bailing water out of the boat. The man at the right side of the boat was relaxed with his hands behind his head. The caption at the bottom of the cartoon revealed what the latter was thinking: “I’m sure glad I’m not at the other end of the boat!”
Now this may seem hilarious to some to see the stupidity of the relaxed man, as the failure of the man working to get the water out of the boat would result in both men going down in the boat. However, how often do we turn a blind eye to the struggles that exist in certain pockets of our society with no inclination whatever of helping?
In the story of Cain and Abel, many of us are like Cain – we wonder why we are held responsible for the actions of others. We wonder why we should care and be concerned about what goes on around us. We wish that we could just be held accountable for our tight-knit family – us four and no more. However, the very nature of community is in opposition to this notion. The fact of the matter is what happens around us does impact us. We are interdependent. Yes, we are independent in many ways and can determine our own destinies and future. However, we are also interdependent. What happens in our circle of life is largely dependent on a great number of people around us. Family is the structure of community. Therefore, we are not “an island to ourselves.”
We have many good citizens in our society today, who will never dream of committing violence or misdemeanors against the state or another person. In other words, they are well-meaning, law-abiding citizens. Many of my peers, who are hardworking professionals, who give their time and resources for the betterment of society, struggle with just how involved do I have to be? How responsible am I for the chaos around me? Many choose to give what they can from a distance, jump in their expensive cars and drive away to their gated communities.
The big question is how long can we survive by simply building more gated communities and trying to hide away from the rest of society, whom we deemed have fallen too far to be reached?
Sometimes we are under the misguided belief that “nothing can be done” or “we are too far gone” or “what can I do to make a difference?” Such should perhaps have been the thoughts of Mother Theresa when she left the safe confines of the Catholic convent and ventured out, with no funding and resources, to reach out and help the poorest of the poor in India, a seemingly endless stream of poor people.
The Bahamas has many examples of persons who left their comfort zones to reach out and help their fellowmen and build a nation in the process. We all need to examine ourselves and find ways that we can give of ourselves to help build our nation. The spirit of volunteerism is too weak in our country, particularly at a time when it is most needed. As a child, I remember that there were several civic organizations with meaningful, character-building programs, such as Boy’s and Girl’s Brigades, Boys’ and Girls’ Scouts, Kiwanis, Brownies and Girl Guides – programs that filled the otherwise long idle after-school hours.
Today, many of these organizations lack volunteers. We, in our society, have become too busy: too busy for children, too busy to shape the future, too busy to mold a generation.
I urge every well-meaning Bahamian to remember that we are all in this same boat. There are severe cracks and outright holes in many areas of this boat – let’s not seek to bailout in this time of trouble. Instead, let us seek to help plug the holes, fill in the missing gaps and come alongside the struggling families. Let’s do our part to save this Bahamaland – the mother ship for us all. Our Bahamas is worthy of being saved and we have what it takes to save it. Bahamians working together can do this, we can make it happen, we can create a new Bahamas—One Bahamas!
DNA candidate for Elizabeth