Fear of change and development, pt.1
This newspaper is on record in support of environmental conservation and responsible development in The Bahamas. We also support innovation and change.
We recently lamented the pervasive anti-intellectual, incurious culture in The Bahamas and gave our support to economic policies that accept and welcome the use of foreign talent to create new and additional businesses in areas not reserved for Bahamian ownership in our economy which could grow job and entrepreneurial spin-off opportunities for Bahamians.
We are concerned that there is an underlying fear of change in The Bahamas that slows and even retards progress. Unfortunately, rather than educating for change and progress, some special interests groups, social commentators and partisan political antagonists routinely encourage opposition to development to the detriment of Bahamian progress. Most disturbingly, once these projects and developments are realized, to the benefit of countless Bahamians, the attitude of resistance to innovation persists.
We will not achieve our goal in development of better for all Bahamian citizens if we as citizens continue to demand better but refuse to accept change.
The development of a national consensus to embrace progressive change is urgent. It will only be achieved with the cooperation of the political, civic and religious sectors of our country.
The history of resistance to change is long and even hallowed in some quarters.
For example, the parliamentary opposition at the time of independence sought to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible. So distrustful were they of the then government that they insisted that certain aspects of the national constitution be entrenched and only subject to amendment following a referendum of the electors in the country.
One of those entrenched provisions was that denying married women equality with men in regard to the transfer of nationality to their children.
Another provision denied single men the right to transfer nationality to their children.
These were reflective of the social norms of that time. They should no longer represent the modern Bahamas.
The introduction of National Insurance was also strenuously opposed by some at the time of its introduction. They were too short-sighted to see the need for our society to ensure a minimum level of support for all in times of disability, mental illness, sickness, unemployment, and old age, or for widows, orphans and the poor.
The creation of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force also had its detractors. Those critics, fearing the militarization of the country, failed to see the urgent under-met need for marine defenses against firstly, fish poaching, but as importantly against illegal migration and illicit drug trafficking.
Today nearly all Bahamian citizens agree that independence opened manifold opportunities.
The results are most notably demonstrated in the rapid development of a large multi-racial middle class of professionals created by new education policies that brought secondary and tertiary level education within the reach of thousands of poor black and white Bahamians for the first time. And, new social policies that responded to the aspirations of many to become homeowners for the first time, and others who aspired to become the owners of homes in formerly foreign and white-only enclaves.
Similarly, no one doubts the necessity of the National Insurance Board or of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; both now accepted as key national institutions.
But the realization that once unprecedented change in our national life bore positive results for the majority of our citizens has not removed the jaded view of some who continue to cling to past practices and norms and to oppose the continued social and economic evolution of our country.
Tomorrow, we will look at some instances of opposition to change in the economy in recent times.