What We Really Need
“What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things instead of using people and loving things.” – Unknown
When discussing what our nation needs to advance into the future, we often describe tangible things – like a balanced budget, better educational opportunities and modern infrastructure. All of these things are necessary, but this week, we would like to CONSIDER THIS … what intangibles do our nation’s soul really need in order to fulfill its true potential in the coming years?
Looking back into our not-so-distant past when Bahamians lived far simpler lives, united by the desire to live decently, earning enough money to enable their children to aspire to goals far beyond those of their parents or grandparents, we were a people known for our care for one another. We have all heard the stories of the vigilance of neighbors watching out for the children of the community, about how visitors raved about the quality of our hospitality and how families were united by strong moral principles in good times and bad. Today, we really need to revisit that time and rediscover some of those fundamental and intangible attributes that unswervingly guided us to greater heights.
What we are missing
We need to rekindle the light of kindness that illuminated even the most mundane interactions. It was this kindness that put smiles on the faces of our fellow Bahamians as well and our tourists, establishing this island nation as a wholesome place to live and a haven for travelers tired of the cold weather and the cold attitudes found elsewhere.
We need to reawaken the tolerance that allowed us to welcome with open arms those from far and near who were not exactly like us. Our ability to accept everyone and, by that acceptance, change many a sinner if not to a saint, at least to someone whose edges became less rough, also made The Bahamas a place where people felt at ease. This kind of tolerance is needed even more today as we see families torn asunder by something as mundane as differing political beliefs. Tolerance for one another’s foibles, instead of the impatience with small weaknesses that we see all around us, would immeasurably transform our everyday lives and, by extension, our nation’s future.
Loyalty is another important intangible national building block. Starting with the loyalty to family and friends, to ideas and concepts and to national identity, loyalty is strangely absent in so many of our interactions. We tend to question the loyalty of others so frequently that we are in danger of becoming a nation of paranoid doubters, not knowing who to trust or whose motives to believe in. We see trust betrayed so often that it is becoming more difficult to know where to place our loyalty, almost forgetting that once there was a time and place when, disagree with them though we might, we never questioned the loyalty of our leaders to our nation and its core ideals.
We need to revive the ability to communicate with one another, not simply to talk at each other, the kind of communication that allowed us to truly know each other, not meaningless small talk. With communication we changed The Bahamas, uniting ourselves with the common goal of true independence. We listened and spoke to one another, learning in the process that we really shared some basic beliefs and values. Today, our communication is more often than not confined to the buttons we push on a computer or a smart phone. More and more we are no longer sharing ideas on a deep level, keeping our exchanges superficial and shallow. This lack of communication leads to misunderstandings and anger, personally and nationally. When our leaders, those we trust to guide this nation to the kind of future we all desire, fail to provide the kind of leadership we want we must accept it is because we have not communicated with them properly, telling them as often as is necessary in as many ways as possible, exactly what it is we wish to have them do for our nation and our future.
Changes are needed
We also need to develop more intellectual curiosity, ceasing to just accept that “it is what it is” and trying to understand why and how things evolve here in The Bahamas. Too many of us simply take what we are told unquestioningly, quietly acquiescing and not using our intellect to challenge what sometimes is obviously wrong or illogical. Unlike our grandparents and parents who were not afraid to risk everything to gain it all, Bahamians of today feel they have too much to lose so they refrain from ‘rocking the boat’, aiding and abetting the dumbing down of our society. We have to allow ourselves to, once again, ask those piercing questions that can uncover the truth and free us from the lies that some would use to keep us complacent and compliantly mediocre.
A sense of humor about the human condition is another quality worth resuscitating that will bear great dividends as we continue on our nation building quest. To take yourself too seriously is to risk losing the possibility of joy in your accomplishments. Try looking at the world condition from the ‘glass half full’ perspective and recognizing that sometimes what we believe to be a situation full of strife is really full of the wonderful absurdities that make humans so enjoyable. This ability makes it much easier to achieve goals – whether personal or national – that had at the outset seemed impossible.
And, finally, as our opening quote intimates, the overarching attribute that we need to revitalize is very simply love. Our daily interactions, whether they take place on the floor of Parliament or on our challenging roadways, need a huge infusion of love for one another in order to bring the most positive conclusions. The hatred and unpleasantness one often sees displayed in these places, and many others around our country, never really achieve the most advantageous end result. Instead, it often succeeds in creating other problems that need further solutions. Approaching our dilemmas in a loving and gentle manner is a time-honored way to bring about the very best resolution to what, otherwise, could be a complicated and difficult problem. Remembering to treat each other in a loving and considerate way is critical to making great strides forward, in our individual lives and in the life of our country.
Reawakening these basic and fundamental intangible attributes in our nation’s soul, and practicing them in our daily lives, is probably a more important contribution toward developing our future in the most positive and sustainable way than anything we could ever build or any budget ever created. Kindness, tolerance, loyalty, communication, curiosity, humor and love are the true building blocks of a great nation full of people of great worth who will enjoy a future of great and unlimited promise.
•Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to [email protected]