It’s all connected
The Bahamas is facing many challenges and while many problems abound solutions appear to be in short supply. As we consider our current plight, I believe it is important to reflect on the past and how it has affected the present, so we do not repeat mistakes of our past. I remember growing up in my early years in The Bahamas when there were no locked doors, no bars on houses, murder was a rare occurrence and it was indeed better in The Bahamas. It is still better in ‘The Bahamas’, but our better is less good than it should be. In order to correct our current situation, it is important that we connect the dots as to why we are where we are and what we can do to prevent it from getting worse.
It is all connected! Let’s begin with the first connection. Our strength in the past revolved around four things, family, industry, values and spiritual convictions. Most of us went to Sunday or Sabbath School, participated in Girl Scouts or Boys Brigade, went to church and participated in service organizations. I must admit that I was a notable exception to many of these virtues, but most Bahamians subscribed to these values. We used to look out for each other more than we do now. We used to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us” more in the past. There were more two parent homes. There was less alcohol, fewer drugs, no real gangs and much less crime. Beginning in the early eighties we experienced a drug trafficking and drug use epidemic that impacted our value system and in turn, negatively affected all existing institutions. Marriages were fractured, babies were born to sick fathers and mothers. Our prison population began to increase, as did our mental health facilities. The expansion of foreign cultures into the Bahamas via the media impacted our social decline. During this period everything changed.
Yesterday is connected to today, and today is connected to tomorrow. Whatever we decide and do today will impact tomorrow, so we had better be aware of what went wrong so that we don’t repeat it. Intoxication is not a virtue. People who are intoxicated make bad decisions. People who are addicted to drugs make bad decisions. Indiscriminate sex and promiscuity does not improve a society. People who cheat and succumb to corruption erode a society. I am not sure how we can expect to become better if we maintain the values that destroyed us in the past.
The actions of the past caused a breakdown in family that has had a devastating effect on our society. We saw an increase in fatherlessness. It is estimated that 70 percent of babies born in The Bahamas today are born to unwed mothers, which means absent fathers. Family is important, especially the presence of a father. According to statistics from the USA:
• 85 percent of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.
(Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
• 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average.
(National Principals Association Report)
• 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
• 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes – 10 times the average.
The obvious first dot is missing: fathers. The other dots are substance abuse, which result in crime, lack of industry and work ethic, erosion of moral and spiritual values ending in murder, and mayhem mostly perpetrated by young men who are victims of their environment and the process. This is coupled with young women who are also victims searching for love but finding broken men who can offer them little.
How do we correct this? We reconnect the dots that gave us what we had before. Family, fathers in the home, no substance abuse and a return to the moral and spiritual values that caused us to be a community. I know it seems impossible, but I have discovered that this formula works. First, it worked for me. I was transformed from all the above and have helped countless other young men and women rearrange their destiny.
The stories are too numerous to mention but I must mention that results matter. Young men who were drug addicts are now husbands and fathers. Gang members are now husbands, fathers and businessmen. Young ladies who were promiscuous and abused are now wives and mothers, businesswomen and creative artists. Do not tell me it is not possible because I have proven it is. Do not tell me because someone comes from an impoverished or troubled background that they cannot be restored. I have too much first-hand evidence to the contrary. The Biblical refrain is still true, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”. The dots connected then, and they do now. Will we see the connection or continue in blindness? The Bahamas is hanging in the balance.
Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to: email@example.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.