We must move forward together

Dear Editor,

It’s not that what I now have to say has somehow increased in value. No. That’s not it. However, since we no longer use one cent pieces in The Bahamas, I will say that what follows is my five cents into the collection plate dedicated to improving The Bahamas. You may also consider it another “nobody asked me, but …”

Have you ever been in a meeting that had no agenda? Well, if you live in The Bahamas, nowadays, you must know how that feels.

For all the good and wonderful things we can say about this sprinkling of idyllic islands across these sparkling turquoise seas, smooth sailing amid calm or rough waters has not been among our accomplishments.

In fact, just knowing which direction the ship of state ought to be going is sometimes quite confounding. Agendas, like compasses, would be helpful in establishing and maintaining the right course but, in The Bahamas, we appear to be rolling with the waves, rudderless.

The winds may blow us this way for, say, five years. Then, another wind may blow us another way for another five years.

Sometimes, we don’t even appear to have a sail, nary an engine. So, moving steadily, slow or fast, in the direction of our goal can be considered a “mission impossible”.

There may be lighthouses out there, however, without the ability or commitment to steer definitively, what good is knowing that the rocky, treacherous shoals are near?

From time to time, we have heard about national development plans or other such short and long-term objectives by specific government administrations. Regardless of how far along any of these ambitions get along the road in that specific term of incumbency, the next (opposing) administration would naturally park these efforts on the side of the road, or even push them into the bushes, for the rest of their term in office.

The fantasy of continuous “national objective” seems to be out there — either crying in the wilderness, or hopelessly lost at sea. When will we see some meaningful agenda agreed upon, so that, no matter which political color is at the helm, the journey continues on course?

To make sure that such a process is possible, perhaps we can start with something relatively small. Then, if we can get that to work, we can move on to bigger and better things. Ok, ok. I won’t pretend to have the key which would unlock the door to our glorious future but, hypothetically, we can look at tourism initiatives, since all of our eggs appear to be in that basket.

Some recent talks have revisited the topic and shone the light on enhancing Bay Street; east of East Street to Fort Montagu.

Well, how about re-establishing live, authentic Bahamian music and entertainment in the popular hotels in Nassau? Better than that, how about fostering entertainment, dining and tours throughout the “Over-the-Hill” areas of New Providence day and night?

There are other possibilities, but let’s not bite off more than we can chew for the moment. Which one of the foregoing or alternative options do you see as a real possibility within the near future?

Your honest appraisal will give us a notion of whether we can adopt a comfortable, hopeful composure, or don a life vest and brace for an eventual impact. Go ahead. Say it. Of course, we’ve made it this far without a coherent, definitive National Development Plan, so who says that we actually need one?

No matter what national development plan(s) could be agreed upon, the difference between success and failure will be the Bahamian people — en masse. Not the intellectuals. Not the politicians. Not the professionals or any other singular group will push the agenda of a better Bahamas to where it needs to go.

It will take all hands on deck working together to arrive at those common, loftier goals. Without that dedication to “we” and not “me”, even the best made plans will not succeed.

Just where to start may be up for debate. What is not up for debate is the very urgent need to start. Just what the world would be facing tomorrow or the day after may right now be a mystery.

What we can say with confidence is that whatever it is, our working together will certainly be better than not working together. Togetherness, true togetherness, as I see it, is not to be confused with that herd mentality.

True togetherness requires an enlightened and informed mindset to take on the responsibilities of working in harmony with cooperative efforts to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Look around. Do you think we have a defined plan for a better Bahamas?

Look more deeply. Do you see us working collectively to follow any such plan? If truth be told, we can do better, much, much better. It’s imperative. We must do better.

Otherwise, we may as well hold a national referendum to change such mockery as “forward, upward, onward, together”. Togetherness may not be easy at this point, but it is necessary and possible. And that’s my five cents.

— Michael Brooks

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