There is a saying that, “To do a good job, you need the right tools”, and I believe that’s true. The history of man has in fact been the story of the creation of better tools. Unfortunately, having better tools does not guarantee a good job, since the tool must still be directed, and that same history is littered with the misuse of tools to the detriment of the human race.

Thomas Edison and his assistant Nikola Tesla developed electricity to bring low-cost and reliable light to the masses, but their personal feud led Edison to invent the electric chair, for the killing of human beings. Ernest Rutherford split the atom, dreaming of the almost unlimited power that would be available to man for his development, and would probably be shocked to hear that an Atom bomb had been used to kill almost 130,000 people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, certainly not what he had in mind.

In our present era, the computer, the internet, international networks and social connectivity are the signal tools created for the benefit of mankind’s development. They are intended to create the climate for unprecedented enlightenment, development and mobility. The number one business on the planet is visiting other places, and the number one fascination is intergalactic travel. The tools for these activities are being refined daily.

Yet the majority of humans still use those tools for destruction, while some acquire them only to use as doorstops in an otherwise unchanged world, to prove that they have the power to have them. We in the Bahamas, for example, the richest and most gifted nation in the region, have acquired all the tools – modern technology, membership in all the global organizations, access to debt, an educated class – yet live as though we are virtual cavemen, brutalizing each other and constantly finding ways to denigrate and disrespect our national family, using our influence only to acquire more debt. The social tools we use only to confirm mental slavery and sociopolitical dependence.

The proper use of tools demands purpose. A hammer can be used to build, to kill or to destroy. It requires a purpose and a plan to be useful. To have purpose requires a dream. Looking like someone else is seldom a worthwhile dream, or as Dolly Parton once said, “Being a second class version of yourself is better than being a first-class copy of someone else”.

To build dreams, we must first become real people, with a strong sense of who we are, of our own identity. Until then, acquiring the tools (like universities, social programs, the latest technology, international memberships or lots of debt) is only “for show”.

Ask this. Have the proliferation of tools available to the Bahamas significantly changed the quality of life or the expression of dignity for the Bahamian community over the past half century? Most of us would be ashamed of the honest answer.

“We have the tools. We can remake it better than it ever was. We can make it the Six Trillion Dollar Country.”

That is, if that’s what “we” want.

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