Change is possible
By most metrics The Bahamas is going in the wrong direction as a country, particularly morally. Is there a connection between moral decay and the breakdown of social institutions and even our economy? This is a very important question and I will offer my views as one who has been and remains on the ground on many levels. From my vantage point I believe I have a unique view hearing and seeing developments from youth, the business community, the church and broader society.
What do I see? Among young people I see some very disturbing trends. I see young people who are victims becoming victimizers. The level of violence and the casual nature of violent thoughts and expressions is alarming. While speaking to some troubled youth I expressed concern that young men were committing murder for hire for as little as $1,000. To my surprise the young men on the front row who were between 14 and 16 years old looked at each other and said very casually, “bey I’ll do it for $300.” We may not want to admit it to ourselves but this mentality now exists in The Bahamas.
I see young ladies selling their bodies and only caring about how much money they can make. I have spoken with business owners who are adamant that they have never seen a lower level of production from workers than they see now. One businessman actually said to me that he turned down a major contract because he cannot find or keep reliable workers. He mentioned that even his manager would not show up to work at times and would not call. Another mentioned that he could not depend on his manager to open the store on time. By all accounts the outlook and mood in many areas of society is pessimistic, perhaps even fatalistic. Others have mentioned that stealing by employees is worse than they have ever seen, while others have expressed concern that employees would work until they got enough money to party on the weekend and would not come to work until the money runs out.
I see parents abusing their young people or offering them for sale in some cases. The level of gang activity and the number of young men involved is alarming. I have personally witnessed young men casually talking about shooting rivals with no remorse. In fact, one day a young man under 18 years of age came to see me and told me he had just secured a MACH-10 and was going to kill four young men who attacked him in a park a few days earlier. Fortunately, that meeting ended with him having a change of heart and eventually coming to church and turning his life around. I see rampant drug and alcohol abuse and so much more. I have spoken with young men who were in prison who explained what happens within the prison walls, how the prison has to be divided into segments based upon gang affiliation. Observing these windows into the world of 2018 Bahamas I was left to ask the question is change possible? Where is the hope coming from?
With a clear view of the problem I was also able to observe the possibilities of change. I spent time with young men who were a part of the Teen Challenge and empowerment program run by Eric Fox and listened to them speak of changing their lives based upon the spiritually-based instruction and inspiration they were receiving. I listened to some of the testimonies from the Second Chance program led by Orlando “Landlord” Miller, Mr. Winston Penn and Ms. Kendra Bowe and heard how young men and women who were considered incorrigible were making progress in overcoming their challenges and becoming better students. These are just a few of the positive programs that I personally witnessed. There are many others that I have observed from afar that can be mentioned, but suffice it to say the programs that go after our troubled youth and have strong discipline and moral and spiritual focus are making a difference.
I see where change is possible but it is certainly not easy. The problem is as Jesus said, “The harvest is ripe but the laborers are few.” Change is possible – but the problem we have today is we do not have enough workers to make a real difference. Our traditional family structure which is the foundation of a stable society has been fractured and is possibly beyond repair. This can cause despair but despair is not the response that will engender change. Hope will. Peace will. Discipline will focus on what is good in us and focus on God’s original plan which has proven to create change. So, is change possible? Obviously it is, but it is not easy or automatic. If you want to see change you have to be determined to be a part of the solution, work with our young men and women or support those who do. Support churches, civic organizations, sporting bodies and those who are “laborers” going after the harvest. We can bring about change and we must, but the change we need to see has to begin in us. Are you willing to be the change?
• 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.