Op-Ed

The Bahamian hero

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein

Today, we live in an age of global uncertainty. We live in a world that has suffered and is still suffering from a pandemic.

Every time we go to the grocery store and the gas station, we feel the pain of inflation. Countries like Ukraine, Ethiopia and Yemen are facing the brunt of wars on massive scales.

We are reminded in international news about the effects of global warming and the possible consequences. The world seems to be in a state of crisis.

Closer to home, if we look at the state of The Bahamas, which is largely dependent on neighboring countries, we get a similar sense of crisis in our news day after day.

There is an influx of Bahamians seeking assistance from the Ministry of Social Services.

Many do not know how they will pay their bills and make ends meet. Many have not recovered from the impact of Hurricane Dorian.

We face education concerns in our schools due to the challenges brought on by COVID-19. In recent times, there has been a proliferation of gang violence. Many are hopeless, hurting and despondent.

There were heroes throughout history who stepped forward in times like this.

I’ve read about Sir Lynden Pindling, who led The Bahamas into majority rule and independence.

I’ve heard the messages of Martin Luther King Jr., who fought against racial discrimination in the United States and championed the cause of civil rights.

History echoes the work of Mahatma Gandhi, who, through a philosophy of non-violence, led India into independence from British rule.

I studied the life of Harriet Tubman, who led slaves to freedom by what we know now as the Underground Railroad.

I read about Abraham Lincoln, who went to war to end slavery in America.

Although these are names that come to mind when we think of heroism, there are thousands, who, through acts of selflessness, made indelible marks throughout history.

I believe that as time progresses, and crises develop, the need for true heroes also expands.

One may ask, “Do I have to be well known or be a household name to be a hero?” The answer is no.

Today, there are many heroes who go without celebration. When I think of heroism, I think of the community worker, striving tirelessly to make sure the poor have food to eat.

I think of the teacher staying behind after school to work with students to ensure they are prepared for the working world.

I think of the entrepreneur building a business ethically, looking to make a positive contribution to society.

I think of the doctor going above and beyond to ensure the safety of his patients.

I think of the pastor who counsels the hurting, visits the sick and fulfills his pastoral duties with a pure heart and sincere motives.

Heroism is more about impact than it is about popularity. Heroes think about others more than they think about themselves. A hero answers the call of the day, knowing that there may be pushback from doing good, but answers it with courage anyway. More than ever, we need the emergence of Bahamian heroes.

Giving

When there is a difficult economy, giving is essential. In The Bahamas, many of us today have the luxuries of going out to dinner, traveling and buying expensive clothing, and do so without answering the call of being our brother’s keeper.

Have we become so self-centered, self-absorbed and selfish that our own good has become the only good that matters?

When you think about the unemployed single mother with three kids and little financial support, who cannot provide for her family, do you think about what you can do to help?

Yes, no one person in our country can solve all the woes we face, but one person can make a difference. If we celebrate and foster a culture where giving is important, we will truly see a difference in our communities.

There are numerous reputable charities in our community that champion the cause of social assistance daily.

We should all support these organizations on a regular basis. What if it were us who needed help? What if we had to tell our four-year-old daughter that there was no food to eat?

What if we could not afford diapers or formula for our infant child? Our country is waiting for more heroic givers to step forward.


Leading

Now more than ever, we need leaders of courage, integrity, wisdom and compassion.

Leaders are trusted to navigate businesses, schools, our government and all other institutions in our country.

Leading also extends to our families, churches, youth groups and sporting clubs. Leaders are entrusted to make decisions that affect everyone. The vitality and success of our nation is heavily dependent on the quality of our leaders.

The heroic leader of today is one of commitment, dedication, vision, diligence and prudence.

We need leaders today who are focused on the betterment of the collective, opposed to the betterment of themselves or personal circles.

We need leaders who are focused more on lasting impact, than self-promotion and self-positioning.

We need leaders who will fight against the status quo within their realm of leadership and do what is right no matter the consequence. We need heroic leaders.


Education

Educators play one of the most important roles in our society. The leaders of tomorrow are being shaped and cultivated each day in the classrooms of our country.

In order to make a difference in our communities, our citizens must have a sound education. There is an acute skills gap in our workforce. There are many instances where jobs are available, but applicants are without the necessary skills to fill these roles.

I believe that there are many teachers who are heroes but, sadly, this is not always the case. For our country to thrive and create the innovation, excellence and higher standard of productivity, we must see more teachers become heroes.

Heroism without education leads to chaos.

The kind of heroes we need in The Bahamas are those who understand the problems we face and are equipped to make a difference.

A great hero is always knowledgeable. Being educated does not always mean just having a college degree. In today’s world, there is an abundance of information on the internet that can equip our emerging leaders with the knowledge they need to succeed.


Innovation

Yesterday’s solution may not always work with today’s problems. With the changing global environment, we need heroes who can think differently.

Fear of failure and complacency are poisons to our nation’s future. We must not be afraid to try new approaches to new and emerging problems.

Every approach that we use today was at one time a new approach. The mindset of doing the familiar is ingrained in many of us, but to solve today’s problems, we will have to conceptualize new solutions.


Conclusion

More than ever, we need heroism on a situational basis. We need consistency in doing good in our everyday lives, which will lead to heroism in the long term.

We must not be a people who aim for the spotlight but a people who aim for the good of our nation and our brothers and sisters around us.

I believe the greatest hero that ever lived was the Jewish Rabbi Jesus Christ. In one of his messages, he pointed out the true essence of heroism, “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11). A servant is one who serves. A servant’s heart is one of a giver, one who is focused on the betterment of others, as opposed to self-gain and self-exaltation.

As we navigate the turbulent times of today, let us all aim to be the Bahamian hero.

Let us be those who move our country forward, as opposed to those who add fuel to the fire.

Let us embody the words of Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

We all have a part to play in our Bahamas moving forward, and our advancement will be the fruit of true heroism.


Malcolm Foulkes is an author, entrepreneur, speaker and former marketing executive at leading companies in The Bahamas. He is the Bahamas Ministry of Youth’s 2015 National Youth Award winner in religion, and the 2018 Dr. Myles and Ruth Munroe Award for Outstanding Leadership Recipient. He can be contacted at
malcolmfoulkes@live.com

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