During the recent election campaign, I heard several politicians justify their entry into politics or their remaining on the scene by promising Bahamians a “better quality of life”. Unfortunately, while it appears many people responded to that promise, judging from the talk-show callers, that is a promise no politician can deliver on. What they really mean (giving them the benefit of the doubt) is a better standard of living.

Quality of life is the personal, perceived experience, which results from a set of personal, inner commitments, and is not primarily the result of outer conditions. Quality of life is not determined by the “facts”, but by the inner lens through which those “facts” are seen. A “positive” person, one who is generally thankful for life, forgiving and generous and has developed a strong relationship with his or her “God”, and a “negative” person, whose life is driven  by regret and the conviction that they are always victims, will experience a different quality of life in identical circumstances. One may experience peace, while the other experiences paranoia. So for a politician to promise a better quality of life assumes he or she is aware of those inner conditions for a whole group of people. That is clearly impossible.

On the other hand, a better standard of living is definable. You either have a roof over your head or you don’t. You either have electricity and running water or you don’t. You either have inside toilets or an out-house. You are an owner, renter or a squatter. These are “facts” that apply equally across the board, and as a politician, they are the things he or she can promise to deliver. Their effort can in fact improve your standard of living. That is the job they have applied for, and not the result of their generosity.

This clarification may seem unimportant, but it is very important, especially now. In promising a better quality of life by delivering a better standard of living, they are supporting an assumption that has had disastrous effects on our nation. In its crudest form they are supporting the assumption that money buys happiness (assuming that happiness is a better quality of life than unhappiness).

The consequence? It is the belief that the answer to any social or environmental problem is more money. It is the belief that getting money, however it is gotten, will somehow make a miserable person experience gratitude, a person whose experience of their world is “negative” would somehow experience a “positive” world with more money.

We all know these assumptions are not true, yet we allow our children to hear us affirming them daily. Then, when they disrupt the quality of our lives with their efforts to “buy” happiness, we are shocked! Where did this materialistic attitude come from?

The Chinese proverb goes something like this, “The greatest change in the world results from a change in my point of view.”

Standard of living is the purpose for the political structures we create. Quality of life is what we experience as a result of the vitality of our inner lives. Then there’ this, compliment of Bob Proctor:

I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.

Martha Washington – 1731-1802, Former First Lady of the United States



Obviously, the title of this post is borrowed from former President Bill Clinton’s campaign of a few years ago, “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. After the crushing defeat of the PLP by the FNM two weeks ago, the public has turned its attention to the satisfaction of only one political promise – punishing the wrong-doers. That is the agenda being advanced by most of the people calling talk-shows, the hosts of those shows and letters to the editor.

But I have another agenda. My agenda is based upon the satisfaction of the things those same people were asking for just a few weeks ago. Then they were asking for three things:

  • Inclusion in the process of governance.
  • Accountability
  • Access to business opportunities


In response, during the campaign politicians committed themselves to providing all of these things. Unfortunately, the public believes the delivery of those promises is provided by a combination of executive integrity and resolve. But the sustained success of any political benefit requires a commitment to systems that themselves are based upon principles of governance.

The three principles underlying the demands listed above are:

  1. Inclusion in governance requires more than a single level of government administration.
  2. There can be no accountability without consequence.
  3. Opportunities are created for those prepared to take them.

The rhetoric of politics is designed to convince voters that individual integrity and resolve are the keys to delivery of the desired conditions, and while no doubt most politicians know that little is possible without the establishment and maintenance of systems, their agenda is often framed by the need to appear to “deliver” personally on their promises. But it is the systems that allow the delivery of the results needed, and attention to those systems is the key to successful governance.

My agenda for the moment, therefore, is a review of the systems intended to provide good governance generally, but immediate attention to the three systems necessary for the delivery of the most demanded items during the election campaign, as noted above: inclusion, accountability and opportunity. Those three systems are:

  • The creation of an autonomous system of Local Government
  • The creation of a recall system for elected officials
  • The re-definition of the education system as the preparation of all Bahamians for productive participation.

This is the foundational infrastructure for the development of a more productive Bahamian society. I believe the new administration is committed to this kind of agenda. I hope it is an agenda the public has the patience to adopt.


Listening to talk shows or political campaign speeches, it is obvious that the criteria for making a choice between parties or candidates are very vague. When pressed for a reason for their support, answers from voters sound like this:

“I’m looking for someone who has the interest of the country at heart”.

“I want someone who believes in Bahamian first.”

“It’s time to give someone else a chance.”

“You cyan’ do much worse dan ‘dis!”

When asked to explain how these statements help identify a choice, the explanations are even mare vague. Frustrated respondents make reference to one of three beliefs:

  1. The belief that people go into politics primarily to line their own pockets.
  2. The belief that political power is used to unfairly benefit “friends and family”.
  3. The belief that Government should take care of their personal needs, as represented by their mortgage, their child’s schooling or their ability to find a job.

In other words, as long as a candidate or their party would promise to take care of us – by finding us jobs, negotiating high salaries, offering free education, healthcare or electricity – whether they actually know how to do the job they are applying for or not is not important. After all, others in the past have proven incompetent, and the country is still standing!

This seems a little fatalistic to me. At least during the interview process, we should require applicants to present something that shows that they know what the job is, and have both the commitment and the ability to do it. Declaring that the present staff is incompetent or that the other applicants have no experience is just not good enough.

What makes this process even more difficult is that it’s necessary to recognize that the voter’s choice is not one choice, but two. First, there is the choice of the party whose policies a voter would like to see in place. Government is formed by the party that forms the government, not by the individual candidates, and citizens should know what policies would deliver good government so as to make that first choice. Then, and only then does the choice of the individual candidate become relevant. Candidates must be able to discuss their party’s policies with voters and to commit to support them. But without knowing the requirements of good government, any choice is simply based upon emotion, more often than not just desperation.

So, I have a suggestion. For those who may be looking for a guideline for assessing the success of a government or to evaluate those seeking support to run the government, and assuming that the government’s purpose really is to provide for the satisfaction of the basic needs of its people, I suggest the use of Maslow’s list of human needs to help define the job.

Need #1: Food and Shelter

The way Government ensures the sustained ability to meet the basic, physical survival needs of its citizens is by developing and maintaining adequate trade and a healthy economy. All other services require that these are healthy. Therefore candidates and their parties must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the structure and workings of both trade and the economy, and to present strategies for expanding both.

Need #2: Safety and Security

What makes us feel safe primarily is the rule of law and the institutionalization of the protective agencies. The proper functioning of the justice system and the constant improvement of the framework for the application of the law is the most important form of satisfaction.

Need #3: Belonging

The development of communities requires government to recognize that communities exist, and to develop those agents that provide for the sharing of the value systems and traditions that create and strengthen them. Cultural activity, both formal and informal, is the primary agent for the sustained development of communities, local and national. Government must provide the facilities and opportunities for expanded cultural expression.

Need #4: Self Worth

The sharing of history and of the accomplishments of the members of the community are the most important activities in the satisfaction of this need. Parties and candidates should understand the importance of historical preservation, the teaching of history, monument-building, cultural activity, civic design and the honouring of locally-defined heroes.

Need #5: Self Actualization

This is about “being all you can be”. It is about dreaming. It is about the creation of a mindset that celebrates the act of dreaming, reduces the social impact of failure and provides the infrastructure for self-improvement. It is not about the safety of welfare or protection from the outside world, but rather the pursuit of personally-defined dreams. Both the parties and the candidates must commit to facilitating that pursuit.

Today we are inches from the milestone of another election. We speak of our democracy and our political maturity. It must, by now, be time to demand that political parties and candidates speak of the satisfaction of the real basic needs of the Bahamian citizenry, not just about the dis-honesty or self-destructive behavior of their opponents, or trying to excite us with promises of “free” stuff.

Political parties exist to offer alternative ways to address the satisfaction of our needs. Maybe it’s time for us to require them to do so, or to stop wasting our time, our energy or, most importantly, our dreams for the future.

A community is a social group identified by its shared values, usually resulting from shared circumstance, background or experiences. It is inherently self-defining. Communities are strengthened by the sharing and celebration of those shared values, and by devices that reinforce them. While they may evolve over time, the evolution is always based upon the internal growth and development of the community.

A team is an example of a community, sharing values related to competition. To celebrate and reinforce those values, they get together and talk about the game, about what makes them successful as a team community. They work together on skills that they believe are needed for them to win. They develop internal relationships of trust and mutual responsibility. They are proud to wear their uniform and to be identified with the other members of the team. They celebrate the individual successes of the team members, and relate those successes to the growth and development of the team. As any coach knows, you can’t build a team from the outside. You can’t “legislate” team spirit, a winning attitude or team brotherhood. Junkanoo groups and lodges are also examples of communities sharing values.

Why, then have we concluded that we can “make” our civic communities from the outside? What makes us think we can draw a line on a map and decide that “this is such-and-such a community”? How do we ignore the whole question of shared values and assume that all communities must be the same because they share our prejudices? A legislated grouping may be a constituency, but that does not make it a community. And more often than not, a constituency is made up of many communities, and therefore no single “community” device (e.g. a community center) can address the value-sharing or value-reinforcing needs of all of them.

In my opinion, we have been actively destroying communities for the past several decades in the name of Community Development. The devices that promote the sharing of community values – churches and church halls, youth groups, community gatherings to share cultural expressions, social societies – have been phased out in favour of externally-designed “one-size-fits-all” solutions that destroy the souls of the communities. For example, in the community I grew up in, self-reliance was an important value, and part of what brought many of the men and women we now call the fathers and mothers of the nation to the stage. Today that community is defined by its attitude of dependence and the shared behavior of constant begging. I don’t accept that the change is due to natural “evolution”.

There is a need to revisit our attitude towards communities, to regain respect for the existing social and micro-political structures as representative of the value systems shared by, in some cases, generations of families that have filtered through those communities. We need the humility to seek out the internal coaches, human and otherwise, who know how to build team spirit, to involve the community in training to win and how to develop internal trust and responsibility. Once that is done, legislators can ask what kinds of support is needed by those coaches, rather than constantly sending in new coaches with “one-size-fits-all” game plans and a rule book that promotes dependence on a Central Government.

Two final comments come to mind. Einstein is reputed to have said, “A problem cannot be solved by the mindset that created it.” I think what we are seeing in our communities – from environmental degradation to crime – we have created with the mindset that disrespects the inner sanctity of communities. It is time to change that mindset.

The second is a note from a book I read some years ago. It said there are three conditions of human existence. In hierarchy, from the bottom to the top they are dependence, independence and inter-dependence. Real communities foster inter-dependence.

I was born in Grant’s Town and raised in Bain Town. There is no such community as Bain and Grant’s Town. ‘Nuff said.


Who decides how long a political leader stays in office? How long is too long? One term? Two terms? Three terms? Who decides?

If you listen to public conversations and talk radio, you would have to conclude that the political leader himself or herself decides. Somehow, he or she has the power to determine the outcome of their own election. No matter what the people think, if he or she decides to stay for another term, they stay.

Wait a minute! I thought our system of democracy ensured that the winner of the contest is the one with the most votes (please, let’s ignore the wrinkle of constituency imbalances for this discussion). So if a candidate attracts the majority of the votes, he is the one who ends up sitting in office. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work in a democracy? How is it possible to anticipate that someone would lose an election but end up in office, just because they decided to stay? That is the fear that cries out for term limits. If that happens, we would all be screaming that our democracy had been violated.

Term limits assume that democracy does not in fact exist. If the majority of the voters determines that a candidate is unworthy, their responsibility is to vote them out of office. The only way an unworthy person remains in office is if he or she is placed there by the majority of the people, in which case they should remain in the seat, poor performance and all.

What term limits do is remove the responsibility of the citizens to act in accordance with their judgement. The right to vote comes with the responsibility to assess the performance of their representatives and to take responsibility for the outcome of the elections. We do not elect political leaders. We elect constituency representatives. As citizens, it is up to us to decide whether that is a system we wish to keep or to change. But limiting the number of terms an individual stays in office is nothing more than another way of avoiding the fact that democracy has a fundamental flaw, once pointed out by Stokely Carmichael, an American activist,

“The bitterest pill I have had to take is the fact that in a democracy, the majority can never be wrong”. Tuff stuff.

I am not swayed by the fact that other countries have term limits. I am more concerned that because other people may be confused, I should feel constrained to be confused too.

In a recent post, I admitted my regret at my generation’s role in the raising of almost two generations of spoilt, entitled young Bahamians. Several of the responses indicated tht many of you agreed, and were pleased at the admission. So, what now?

Well, rather than trying to be more adult than we were, our children (you) have chosen to approach nation-building as though it is someone else’s job. Based upon your behavior, you apparently assume you are SUPPOSED to have systems in place that create good governance, a “level playing field” and your fair piece of the pie. And when you find   that they are not, your response is to throw a tantrum. None of it is your responsibility.

For example, you demand accountability (and are prepared to give your support to any politician that promises it to you) but take no responsibility for your role in establishing it. When you hire someone, YOU are first of all responsible for their performance. The only way you can live up to that responsibility is to have consequences in the employment contract, including the power to fire them. Otherwise they are not accountable to you and you can’t be accountable to your organization. So how you can demand accountability before demanding the inclusion of consequences in the contracts you sign with your political representatives is a mystery. In fact it’s just plain irresponsible. Your responsibility is to demand better contracts, not stand in the doorway screaming that your employee is not being accountable.

Another of your demands is that your voice be heard. Most people who know me are painfully aware that I believe the Bahamas is the ONLY country ON THE PLANET that has no device for the inclusion of its citizens in the governance of their country. That is the primary role of local government. That, and training people for involvement in public life. It is the curious that almost everything the “We March” effort wants is accomplished by the introduction of an autonomous system of local government. It is your responsibility to control the political agenda, but to do that you have to be adults, making strategic demands that lead to important goals. Are the goals laid out in political party platforms your goals? Most are not my most urgent. For example, most of your current demands are only realistic in the context of a system of local government, and it’s not possible to have accountability without recall. While several parties may have mentioned these, none has made it a major part of their platform, just an afterthought. Those are the pivotal issues for the present, and they are required if you are to live up to your responsibility to ensure a future for your children that is better crafted than the one we crafted for you. No real forward movement is possible without these two factors.

There is no such thing as a level playing field. The only people looking for one are those destined to be the losers. Excellence will always be more favoured than average, and it is your choice which to be. You do NOT have the right to own a house, a car or property. You either pay for them with your own sweat or with the power you give away to politicians. Wealth creation will always be more sustainable than job creation, but it is easier to choose the latter, and to support those who promise you the easy way out. On the other hand, you must eventually come to the realization that there is no such thing as job security (although government jobs may come close) or free lunches.

It is time to build a nation. If we did a poor job, that is not a good enough reason for you to accept that you have no responsibility toward your children. You clearly have no clear idea what building a nation requires, and hope some “leader” will do the research for you, and all you have to do is get him elected. You ignore the key functions needed to create or sustain a country as if you are exempt from needing to develop them. The reason for creating a country is the satisfaction of a whole array of human needs, not the admission to International bodies. How are you addressing those needs? Not very well, I believe. Your complete focus appears to be on basic survival. Despite being the richest nation in the Caribbean, your entire focus is on begging for hand-outs, whether from Government, rich people or the IDB. Learning how to run the family business (Tourism) is not one of your concerns. As my friend Eddie Minnis says, “We’re living in a “me” generation”. Sadly, you are raising your children to be more dependent and bigger bigots than we raised you, teaching them that race, class, party affiliation and national origin are more important than responsibility.

It is time to grow up. Get over your youth. For every Mark Zuckerberg there are a billion ordinary, waiting-to-be-responsible young people just like you. Thinking that your superior tools make you superior to your parents has so far only gotten you a place on the corner begging. 90% of all progress is plain old hard work. We may be sorry we’ve left you a poor inheritance (that appears to be the way you see it) but that is not an excuse to do the same to your children.

It’s time to get over yourselves and get down to the job of building the nation you inherited. No political regime will do it for you. No “leader” will do it for you. You have to ask yourself, “What must I do to build the greatest little country in the world?” Then get off your arrogance and do it.

I am ashamed of my generation.

We dropped the ball fifty years ago, which has led to almost two generations of spoilt children. And now we sit on the sidelines, too embarrassed to admit our errors and to speak the truth, consoling ourselves that our children are more technologically advanced than we are, and that we need to “understand” them. We listen to their conversations and repeat the same meaningless platitudes they use to make themselves feel “educated”. All they do for us is remind us that we screwed up.

What does “It starts in the home” mean? Does that statement tell a new parent what to do to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem? Or is there some toxic product in the home that turns children into monsters? The fact is that the statement has no functional meaning beyond finding someplace to place the blame and making the speaker seem enlightened.

Or how about “It takes a village to raise a child”? This is simply an observation by someone from a nuclear family background that extended family communities produce more culturally stable children, but the sentence is used to lament the loss of community in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, it does not offer a bridge between the present social condition being addressed and the ideal being expressed. What exactly does one do tomorrow to begin to apply the principle of the village raising a child?

The claim that “these children are different” suggests a need to find new solutions to the problems of human development. Unfortunately the statement ignores the fact that humans have not in fact changed, only the tools with which they solve their problems have. The problems are still the same, their needs are still the same and the community must still address these social, emotional and spiritual issues squarely if it is to survive. The slogan does nothing more than give us an excuse for not having engaged a successful child-rearing process. It says we are not responsible for their behavior because we don’t really know these kids. Instead, we ask them to raise themselves.

These kinds of platitudes have led us to make at least three terrible mistakes.

The first was our abandonment of a commitment to our role in the transmission of cultural values. For the record, cultural values are the beliefs a particular community shares about good and bad, right and wrong, fair and unfair, good and bad manners etc. They are primarily acquired during the first seven years of life, a period we have now chosen to use to “jumpstart” our children academically, making academic results more important than the transmission of values.

Secondly, we have convinced ourselves that academic results are more important than the development of character. Parents are quite prepared to drive their children the length of the island or pay a fortune to have their children in the “right” pre-school or primary school, but are completely unconcerned about the lack of focus on a value system. Manners and respect for others are not considered important. Good grades are. Agencies that focus on the development of character are considered “extras”.

Thirdly, and perhaps most destructively, we have replaced morality with legality. Public decency and respect for other people and their property are replaced by declarations of personal rights. While we certainly have the right to raise monsters, we also have the responsibility to raise productive citizens. Watching our children shoot and kill one another must remind us of that responsibility and of our failure to live up to it. Personal rights must take a back seat to societal rights if the society is to survive. This, I’m afraid, is exactly opposite to what we have taught our children, and their belligerent behavior should not surprise us as much as it does. If they behave as though their wishes are more important than the creation of order in the society, it is because we have convinced them of that truth.

The development of a nation is not about the celebration of individual rights, but about the creation of an environment in which every citizen has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Maslow gives a great guide for planning a community’s development, which requires attention to the satisfaction of the social, emotional and spiritual needs of all of the members of the community. The social environment designed to nurture the development of character is called the socializing process, which certainly begins in the home, but it relies for its success on partnerships with a multitude of social agents, from schools to churches, lodges, youth groups and cultural presenters. Non-organic programs only magnify the failure of the poor socializing process.

My generation failed to live up to these responsibilities, being more concerned about “international” validation, the creation of personal wealth and the fascination with a variety of sectoral rights. Somehow we forgot that the most important right we have is the right to a civilized environment in which to live, which requires respect, public decency, a celebration of communal traditions and cultural identity. It is only possible to address anti-social behavior if there is a clear and agreed definition of social behavior, and that definition can never be a legal arrangement. It is ur concern for sectoral rights that has made our communities unlivable, not crime.

We dropped the ball, those of us over 70. We have lied to our children about almost every aspect of their development and raised them to be spoilt and entitled. Talk shows demonstrate this, with hours on end of complaints about everyone in authority and precious few attempts at crafting solutions to the nation’s real problems or taking responsibility for solving them. Their unproductive behavior makes noise, but does little to move the country forward. They blame us for the inertia, saying we should get out of the way. The problem is, they are less prepared to run a country than we were, because our parents did a better job of preparing us to take responsibility than we have.

I am ashamed of my generation.


It’s a New Year. Happy New Year everyone. I thought I would begin the year by trying to bring a focus to one of the most serious issues still facing us as a nation.

My son says:

“I don’t know who discovered water, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.”

This is his way of explaining the phenomenon that it is difficult to see your own circumstance from within that circumstance. That is why we have to have therapists, pastors and teachers. But more importantly, that is why we have to have theatre and painting and sculpture and music. That is why we need these devices that allow us to see ourselves from outside the water, to have mirrors, not as vehicles for narcissism, but as tools for development, to help us see the water we’re swimming in.

There is clearly a paucity of community-based artistic expression in the Bahamas, one of the reasons we find it so difficult to understand what’s happening to us. Being too busy to watch an Ian Strachan or a T’rez Davis-Nixon play, to really listen to Phil Stubbs or Ronnie Butler or to stop and contemplate the works of a Stan Burnside or John Cox leaves us at the mercy of thought agents who are more concerned about selling advertisements or about getting elected than about polishing mirrors. It leaves us complaining about the picture frame without even seeing the picture inside.

For example, for over 40 years (a really, really long time according to the Bible), the Bahamas has attempted to make a governing structure work which to the rest of the world is missing an important part. While the structure of government clearly does not work without that part, we are so accustomed to our reputation as an extraordinary people, we assume any poor performance by the system must be due to the ineptitude of those operating it. So we simply change them and hope for better performance by the new operators.

Rinse and repeat.

A governing structure with no vehicle for the involvement of the citizenry except to change the National Administrators every five years can never produce good governance, regardless of its leadership. Good governance requires involvement by the citizens in the creation of the goals and objectives that shape national policies, which in turn requires the citizens to look into their mirrors, place their dreams on the table and craft, for themselves, visions for their community and for their country. And that must precede the commitment to fancy strategies at the national level.

To do this, the structure needs two things, as noted above: local engagement in the development of national policies and lots of mirrors. It needs institutionalized community-based dreaming, not externally directed symbol-chasing. It needs James Catlyn and Nicolette Bethel, Amos Ferguson, KB and Stevie S. It needs places for community gathering and sharing, like Wesley Hall, St Agnes Hall and the Dundas Center. It needs the Zanzibar and the Jungle Club, where community expression and entertainment share the spotlight. It needs the re-creation of structures that encourage community self-definition.

In short, it needs things that can never be part of a national-government’s agenda. The national economy, national defense, education, public health and security are all full-time concerns for national administrators. The national approach to these things should be informed by local agendas, but those local agendas must also have their own life for true governance. And for that, some form of autonomous local government (at least one level) is a must, as is an infrastructure of theatres, music halls, a focus on artistic training, local entertainment places, art galleries and the like. And there must be ways for the average citizen to involve themselves in the decision-making process of his or her community’s concerns without national government interference. With only a national government, we are like fish swimming aimlessly, wondering why everyone else has legs or wings.

Someone better soon discover water.



As Bahamians, we underperform. As individuals, we are phenomenal. For a country of under 400,000 we produce a simply freakish number of high achievers. Yet as a community we underperform in every aspect of public life. We underperform in business, education, cultural development and in our responsibility for the environment. Why?

One answer is, we give ourselves permission with our words. Language is such a powerful tool, one we use most aggressively to support our underperformance. Listen to these:

It’s our Colonial heritage”

“It’s a hold-over from slavery”

“Black people can’t work together”

“The white man holdin’ us down”

“Politicians only wan’ keep the power for themselves”

“The Chinese get’n all the business”

“I’s a small man”

None of these statements is either true or relevant. Our Colonial heritage is only the framework from which we make the decisions about our future, from which we choose the objectives to work towards. There is no ghost of Queen Victoria that forces us to decide against our own interest. We are responsible for our decisions, and if our decisions are not producing positive results for us, we are responsible for changing those decisions. Not the Colonial past. Imagine believing that I have to be a drunkard because my grandfather was one. Or maintaining an education system that does not produce productive citizens because it was introduced by colonists.

Black people CAN work together. In business, the Sunshine Boys proved that. The early PLP proved it in politics. Junkanoo groups prove it every parade. The idea is clearly nonsense. In any case, our citizens are not all black, so why is that important? We should instead be focused on all of us learning to work together.

There is no such thing as a small man. There are men who have not yet discovered their value or their potential, but there are no small men. In this arrangement, is a small man’s child also a small man? I hope not.

These things we repeat without thinking get their power from our repetition, whether they are true or false, positive or negative. Unless we repeat them, they have no power and they are not truths for our children.

So perhaps it is time to take the first step in improving our national circumstance. Rather than searching for some messiah to “cure” the mantras with which we keep ourselves enslaved, we might simply stop repeating them. Marley said it this way:

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”

It is time we stop giving ourselves permission to underachieve.

December 16, 2016

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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