Just a few weeks ago, The Bahamas celebrated its 46th birthday as a nation. But now, where do we stand? Who are we as a people? Where are we headed?
From my perspective, I would say that we are challenged but not charred, we are broken but not destroyed, our situation is tenuous but yet we should be thankful. In spite of whatever shortcomings The Bahamas may have, we are still a blessed nation. World Bank statistics indicate that we have the third-highest per capita income in the Americas, behind national giants like the United Kingdom and Canada. Our median income is $30,000 while most of our Caribbean counterparts’ range between $8,000 and $17,000. Sometimes the problems can cause you to lose perspective and gain an appreciation for your blessings. Like the old song said, you better count your blessings.
Thank God we are independent – and we should be. Our history of being victimized by various colonizers has left psychological wounds that we must process as a people and continue to rise above the potentially debilitating effects. Make no mistake about it, the United Kingdom has not been benevolent to The Bahamas. We were exploited and subjugated, and our resources used to the benefit of our colonizers, so there is no reason for us to want to be under the lordship of what is essentially a somewhat malevolent regime. Progress has been made and exploitation recessed but a benevolent kingdom is supposed to ensure that its citizens and colonies benefit from the resources of the kingdom and not the other way around. A loving parent does not take from their children but instead provides for them and nurtures them. Prior to independence, we were disadvantaged and discriminated against – but thank God we gained freedom to pursue our best interest.
Freedom is great but there is a scripture in the Bible that says, “Woe to a nation when a slave becomes king.” If we gain freedom on paper only then is the slave rule similar to the rule of the master. If you are not truly free, then the only change is the color of the oppressor, but the mentality remains the same. As Bahamians, I believe we should pause from our complaining and recognize and celebrate the good things about The Bahamas. We have a lot to celebrate.
I am proud to be a Bahamian. I do not want to be any other nationality. I love my country and while I decry the inequities and challenges, I also celebrate what is good about us. Think about this for a minute: in a country of 350,000 people, we have currently, one of – if not the – top sprinters in the world in Shaunae Miller; one of the best female basketball players in Jonquel Jones – who is in the running for MVP of the WNBA; a budding superstar in Sacramento Kings NBA player Chavano “Buddy” Hield – and that is just in the area of sports. Bahamians are excelling on the world stage in entertainment, culture, business, religion and politics. We have some great people. Let us not lose sight of our greatness and accomplishments just because we have a few people who tarnish the image of our nation.
While we celebrate our accomplishments, we must also recognize how strategically blessed we are. We have a beautiful country. We live in one of the most breathtaking environments on the planet. People pay just to visit what we have come to take for granted. Many of us lose appreciation for what we have and drive by the beautiful beaches every day and forget to give thanks while we complain about crime and political corruption. We should begin with a sense of gratitude for what we have. Let us not be like the Israelites in the Bible where it was stated, “Then they remembered that God was their rock and the most-high God their redeemer. Nevertheless, they flattered him with their mouth, and they lied to him with their tongue; For their heart was not steadfast with him, nor were they faithful in his covenant.”
So, how should we respond to our independence? I have six principles that I believe should be applied in order for us to be successful as a nation:
• Position ourselves to influence the culture positively. Whatever is wrong about The Bahamas is wrong in us; if it is to change those of us who possess the character needed to position ourselves to influence the culture in a positive way. It is not good enough to simply complain if we have not strategically placed our complaints, because you cannot expect someone to produce something that they are not. As the saying goes, evil prevails when good men do nothing.
• Make a difference in our domain. We all have a sphere of influence. Make a difference right where you are. If you are a teacher, a coach, a business owner or a barber, make a difference in your domain. You cannot effectively influence where you are not strategically placed. Start wherever you have been strategically placed.
• Speak up. Do not remain silent. Wherever your voice can be heard, speak up. If we only hear from the wrong people, right will never seem appealing. Lift your voice and be heard in order to effect positive change.
• Establish a visible pattern. Be the change you want to see. How can we ask others to change if we remain the same? If you are not the example of what you speak how can your message be credible? If you speak about integrity then you should have a visible pattern of integrity, otherwise, your message becomes noise. If you are going to sing it, then you must be the one to bring it.
• Speak over the nation. Too many of our people are continually speaking calamity, damnation and negativity over The Bahamas. Speak what you want to see and highlight the positives rather than blanketing us with the negative. Call forth the good instead of highlighting the bad. There is a saying that states that there is a king and a fool in all of us, the one we speak to the most is the one that comes out. Speak life over The Bahamas and call forth the greatness of our people rather than speaking to the fool.
• Make the kingdom your single priority in time, talent and treasure. Jesus said to seek first the kingdom. Our first pursuit and single focus should be increasing heavenly conditions on earth. Peace, prosperity, character and love for each other should be our primary daily pursuit. If we pursue these things, we are guaranteed to be successful.
The Bahamas is indeed a great little country. Let us continue to build an environment we can be proud of for generations to come. If not us, then who? If not now, then when? March on Bahamaland.
• 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.