During her farewell address as governor general yesterday, Dame Marguerite Pindling called on Bahamians to rise above “divisiveness and discord” and find common ground, or risk destruction.
“There is a lot more out there that binds us together than divides us, and it is our challenge, nay, our duty as individual citizens of this land we love, to develop and deepen these common bonds,” Dame Marguerite said, during a farewell ceremony at Government House.
“We hear too much too often about the vices that divide us, and too little too seldom about the virtues that unite us.
“Virtues such as our love of family; our devotion to God; our compassion for the elderly and the underprivileged; our patriotic fervor; and our desire to make our country a better place for our children and all our people, especially those who are most in need of a helping hand.
“These are the higher values and ennobling aspirations we hold in common.
“If we do not now share these values and aspirations, we must resolve to embrace them. And to do that – to give real life and vigor to the things that unite us – we need, first and foremost, to rise above our baser selves and put aside divisiveness and discord.
“We can express differences without being divisive. We have all been guilty of sowing discord at one time or another in our lives, but it is never too late to move with purpose to a higher, loftier plane – and do it together.
“We need to rise above divisiveness and acrimony and come together on common ground to build up this nation.”
She added that in order to do this, Bahamians must offer kind words to one another; show respect and courtesy; display consideration for each other’s feelings and learn to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue and not violence.
“Let us be mindful of that as we aspire to rise above divisive speech and divisive conduct to reach that higher plane of co-existence, where peace and harmony, and mutual respect and goodwill are made, to triumph over hateful speech and hostile conduct,” she continued.
“Remember always, my fellow citizens, that we labor in vain as a nation and as a people if we cannot be civil to one another.
“We can build the greatest economy in the region, but if we cannot be civil and kind and compassionate to one another, all our successes in all the other spheres of national endeavor will, in the end, come crashing down in ruins upon our heads.
“And so, as I demit office, I commend those thoughts to you in the prayerful hope that they may touch your hearts and minds and help in some way, however small, to focus us more on building up the national character on a firm foundation of the good and wholesome things we cherish in common, and not on the flimsy and fragile footing of the awful things that divide us and, in the end, could destroy us.”
Dame Marguerite, widow of former Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling, served as governor general since July 2014.
She had served as deputy to the governor general for two years prior to taking office and succeeded Sir Arthur Foulkes, who served for four years in office.
Yesterday, she expressed gratitude to the administrators, staff, public servants, and officers stationed at Government House during her tenure.
She thanked Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for the appointment to the position and further offered tributes to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and former Prime Minister Perry Christie.
As she ended her reflection of her time in office, she noted that it was her singular objective and desire to serve the Bahamian people to the best of her ability, without distinction of social rank, race, or political allegiance; and upholding the dignity of the office “completely above and beyond the fray of partisan politics”.
“I still see a new country wealthy and proud, brave and sovereign,” she added, painting her vision of a future Bahamas.
“A country where every Bahamian stands tall, independent and free. A country where there is opportunity for all and a secure future for each citizen bold enough to grasp it. A land where excellence is cherished and hard work is a thing a pride; a nation disciplined and strong.”
Dame Marguerite will perform her last official duties today, with her final inspection of the guard, just before the handing over and swearing in ceremony of incoming governor general C.A. Smith.