Toward a better Bahamas

Dear Editor,

Years ago, a good friend and unassuming Bahamian icon/philosopher used to opine “see what ya lookin’ at!”

This simple yet profound pronouncement could readily find interpretations across a wide spectrum of past and present situations affecting our beloved Bahamaland today. See what ya lookin’ at. It’s critical.

As mentioned in a previous note, some of us might have sight, insight, foresight, and even hindsight. Good. Unfortunately, far too many of us – whatever number that may be – appear to simply have no sight whatever. Has Bahamian culture devolved to the place where we just do things the way we met them being done, and hope for different outcomes? Do we, or do we not see the possibilities, instead of whatever buck up goes?

I won’t point a finger at politicians or so-called leaders, although much power and influence seem to mostly rest in their hands.

Instead, I am humbly suggesting that we each take on a personal responsibility to engage with our particular circle of friends, families, or associates to collectively arrive at meaningful agendas which could be pushed forward on a local level, then perhaps even on a national level in efforts to see marked/measurable improvements for all Bahamians as we navigate the treacherous shoals in the second half of our first century as an independent Bahamas.

Sankofa, in essence, might be borrowed here in helping us to look backward, from whence we came, as to set our sails to move forward, upward, onward, together.

Look back and see what we lookin’ at, when we consider the once thriving, famous straw market on Bay Street. Those were the days when it was an authentically native Bahamian straw market.

Can we return to the times when Bahamians sustainably harvested local palms from the forests and coppices? Bahamians dried and rolled the straw.

Bahamians plaited, sewed a large variety of decorative and utilitarian items – bags, hats, mats, slippers, dolls and more – for both the local and tourist markets. Do Bahamians today look into the bushes and see what they lookin’ at?

In arriving at that destination of a better Bahamas, can we agree to truly see what we lookin’ at with some serious national plans and measurable goals for, say, 10 years, 20 years and 30 years ahead? With those targets in our sight, can Bahamians agree to work together earnestly for achieving those common, loftier goals?

See what ya lookin’ at may be seen as the five different fingers of our hands. Working together, they can more than grasp what no single finger can do, but achieve the most incredible outcomes with that better Bahamas we are so desperately in need of.

We have all heard about what happens to the people when there is no vision.

Two local and familiar examples should make the point clear enough so we see what someone was lookin’ at.

Years ago, many of us would look across the harbor on East Bay Street and see bushy Hog Island.

Today, from that same vantage point, we look and see Atlantis.

At that curvature of the road where West Hill Street meets West Bay Street, we now see The Pointe.

You get the point about seeing what ya lookin’ at, sometimes when others around you don’t see anything but what’s there now.

You can look outside our borders or look within this archipelago; examples would be quite instructive.

For example, Singapore in Asia, and Rwanda in Africa have made remarkable changes for the better. There are many others too.

Why can’t The Bahamas be the beacon of light and achievements in this part of the world, as the world marks the manner of our bearing? The only ones who can prevent that from being realized are ourselves.

With the next few lines I will attempt to briefly sketch out a picture which might be included in the design and development of our new, improved Bahamas.

Our new system of governance ought to adhere to the norms of human and civil rights.

Majority rule should not merely be a token claim.

Whatever is best for Bahamians should override whatever foreign/international trends that may seek to intrude upon our good sense and cultural preferences.

That aside, names and titles listed here are merely as references to established norms, and need not be followed beyond this writing.

An elected executive (person) would share a balance of power/governance with a group of elected representatives in the The Assembly.

Representatives would be required to reside in their constituencies and consult with the voters there in order to express their views and not those of any political party.

“Ministers” would be selected for their expertise or proven abilities, and need not be representatives. That rubber-stamp of a Senate would be a bygone memory.

Transparency (except in the interest of national security) would be the order of the day.

Enforcement of the law would be definite, swift, and effective, and that double-headed monster of violent crime and illegal migration would be unceremoniously expelled from this new Bahamas.

Necessarily, national ID cards (with photos, prints and biometric singularities) would be issued to all inhabitants.

National service, in some capacity, would be required by all Bahamians.

Special emphasis would be placed on assessments of the nation’s youth. Strengths and weaknesses would be determined in order to direct and build better Bahamians. That balance of giving and getting will have merit for Bahamians and The Bahamas.

If the past is any indication of the future, such targets will not be easily attained. But, is good, better, or best ever attained on the easy road?

Perhaps, when we commit to looking in a clear mirror and see what we lookin’ at, we would see a big part of the solution to getting The Bahamas from where it’s at, where it’s been, as well as where it can go.

Go ahead, get that mirror of self-introspection and see what ya lookin’ at!

— MB

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