Use culture to build rather than destroy
The words I share on this topic are from my perspective and represent the philosophy derived from what we call the kingdom perspective. I realize we live in a democracy and there are many who share a different view. I do not expect agreement or endorsement from everyone or even most Bahamians. I expect that some will attack me for expressing my perspective, but I also realize that I do not need to be liked, and leadership voices often face ridicule when they do not line up with opposing views. I accept this not as personal against me, but because of my beliefs and perspective. For those who oppose, examine the facts and decide for yourself if what I am saying has merit.
In every culture there are expressions of art, music and culture. Every society has these expressions and they are important to cohesion and as an outlet for talents. The need for entertainment is a universal need and there is nothing foreboding or inherently evil in entertainment, arts and culture. These expressions ideally should enhance who we are and make us better as a people. Unfortunately it appears that entertainment and cultural expressions are sometimes contributing to the pollution and demise of our cultures as opposed to enhancing our cultures.
To give an example of this, I recall growing up Junkanoo was an expression of culture that was lively, expressive, and entertaining and it still is today. Over time however the element of degrading behavior and public sexuality and simulated sex has crept in. At many of these events we have children in the viewing audience but nevertheless their presence is overlooked, or we may have come to the conclusion that being exposed to overt sexuality is now a good thing for them. Coincidently or not, the more vulgar we have become the more vulgar our children have become and the level of sexual abuse has been increasing. I believe culture and art should entertain us and enhance us rather than promote decay. It appears that we are heading in the wrong direction globally and also in The Bahamas.
Music is one art form that has the ability to soothe, cause enjoyment and alter moods. Music globally has taken on an increasingly negative tone. I recall growing up that even the secular music had meaningful themes. I remember songs like, “Let’s Stay Together”, “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”, and even “You make Me Feel Brand New”. Fast forward to today and it is hard to find music that has any redeeming message. Much of the music today is profane and accompanied by vulgar and offensive language and behavior. The music of today often promotes violence, misogyny, sexual perversion and one is hard-pressed to find something encouraging in the music. At the same time we have more violence, more sexual abuse, incarceration and negative effects on society. At some point we have to realize that we are engaging in suicide by culture.
Now we have a new wave in The Bahamas under the banner of carnival. While many of the artists are talented and gifted, and not all of it is vulgar, the trend seems to be toward an increasing level of vulgarity. Why can’t we have good music, good fun without debilitating side effects. It appears that it is only a matter of time before we have people running around butt naked and engaging in live sex acts because we have progressed from sexual gyrations to simulated sex in the street and other behavior once considered intolerable in public. Where are we headed? Why can’t we have expressions of culture that are decent, professional and entertaining without the unnecessary add-ons?
I realize we cannot force anyone to be decent but I believe the direction we are going in should be pointed out and warnings should be issued. I know the next word from some people will be why are you getting in our business and who needs moral advice or counsel, we are fine as we are whether it is public drunkenness or public indecent exposure or simulated sex. Well that is your opinion and I am sure there are many who would also say. “Give us Barabbas too”. I am not one of them. I have been down the road of all of the excesses and was one of the persons guilty of the things I speak about. I have found over time that feeding fleshly desires and lust like the Bible says leads in most cases to debauchery and dire consequences. The end result is death whether physically, emotionally or spiritually.
I have a few questions about carnival.
• Does carnival make our people better or worse morally?
• Is there a net positive value to carnival beyond any economic impact?
• Are we further lowering our moral standards as a country?
• Is it possible to be decent or is indecent the new normal?
• What is the purpose of the nakedness and vulgar behavior?
I believe there is a better way and I am simply advocating for culture that uplifts rather than culture that degrades. One man’s opinion that comes from one man’s journey. I have seen young men and women personally transformed through productive culture, art and entertainment. Many who were considered lost are now living lives free of debauchery yet still blessing the world with their talents. Perhaps more should get the message and use art like one uses a knife. It can make a meal or kill someone. Use culture to build rather than destroy is what I recommend.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to [email protected]. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.