Sunday, Jul 12, 2020
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My mother taught me this

One day, at a very difficult time in my life, I discussed my situation with my mother. In her ever calm and compassionate way she said, “Vargo, I know that it is difficult, and I know how badly you feel, but you hang in there; it will get better. I know that you still feel badly, but you take my word on this, it will get better.” As had been the case so many times before, she was right, and I survived that and many other challenging days. It seems to me that there are aspects of our nation’s current experiences that might make us feel like I felt in those difficult days. There are senseless murders, enduring economic hardship, relentless cost increases and a general atmosphere of cynicism. These do not make for good times; in fact, they make for times that feel bad for many — perhaps too many. Blame is ever-present but more than anything else right now, we need hope. So, I am saying today what my mother said to me in those difficult days: it will get better. Why am I so confident of this? Because I have seen too many turnarounds to believe something different.

The years 2007 and 2008 were an awful time for us in this country, and indeed, for the world. Millions upon millions across the globe, and thousands upon thousands in this country, lost jobs, homes and hope. The global economic collapse threatened to collapse the word’s financial system and usher in a new era of economic depression. Ten years later, almost every country in the world, including our own, is experiencing growth again and not staring down the barrel of a loaded economic gun. Things are not rosy for all, but they are also not cataclysmic for most. That monumentally difficult time turned around, and so can these times.

In the 1980s, our nation was plagued by the disease of a disastrous drug epidemic. Drug trafficking was rampant; crack cocaine addiction was pervasive; political corruption was endemic; and social decay was accelerating. We were ashamed of ourselves in those days, and the world looked on us with disgust. We are not that today; we turned that around, beginning in 1992. Yes, we still have our issues socially, but those issues are not what they were back then in the heyday of the ‘80s.

Prior to 1967, the nation was ruled by a group who represented less than 20 percent of the population, in terms of race; and their social and political policies were regressive and stifling. The promises of full humanity lingered in the wasteland of discrimination and social deprivation. In 1967, that changed, and over these decades since, we have become a different people. The majority — in terms of race — rules; social progress has been made, even if now stifled; and political policies are more progressive, even if less modern than they could be. Things did turn around.

I could go on, but the point is, things big and small turn around. I firmly believe they will again. My mother also told me, “Zhivargo, you keep doing what you are doing; you keep trusting your God and trying to be a decent person. It will turn around.” My mother was saying to me that turnaround isn’t automatic. It matters that we are working toward our turnaround. It matters that we are exercising faith and positive effort. If we work diligently, doing the right things and doing them right, history has shown that we have the potential to bring better to our lives. The Bahamas must remember this in these days of challenge. Thank you, Mummy, for teaching me this.

• Zhivargo Laing is a Bahamian economic consultant and former Cabinet minister who represented the Marco City constituency in the House of Assembly.

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