Categorized | Editorials, National News


Happiness can be defined as a feeling of contentment emanating from a satisfied and fulfilled life.  It is an intrinsic yet intangible human emotion. The common assumption is that it is not quantifiable, nor easily adapted as a measure of national progress and development.
   In The Bahamas where the living is relatively easy for the vast majority of Bahamians and where the standard of living is higher than many developing countries, there are too many problems of underdevelopment leading to unhappiness.  While both the Gross Domestic Product and the Gross National Product are both relatively high or impressive compared to Small States, the country is beset by many social ills which are retarding progress.
  Many people relate under-development only to the lack of economic growth and development.  However, under-development refers to the low level of development characterized by low real per capita income, widespread poverty, lower level of literacy, low life expectancy, a decline in the value system  and underutilization of resources.
  In a recent publication on Small States in a big world it is reported that  “almost half a century ago, the fourth King of Bhutan proclaimed that Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product, should be the nation’s principal yardstick for measuring progress. He was determined that the small country with a population of about 750,000 could achieve progress, material comfort and security in a modern and competitive world, while also remaining true to its quintessential values and humanity. That the country’s success should not be measured by how much money it makes, but how content and happy the citizens are.  He believed, if at the end of each of the cycle of the five year plans, the Bhutanese people were not happier, then the plans had failed.  The 18th century founder of unified Bhutanese, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, was more blunt. He pronounced in his 1729 legal code, that ‘if the government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the government to exist.’ Indeed, happiness in Bhutan is serious business!”
   It should be the same in The Bahamas.  We need to take a hard look at the socialization of the youth of The Bahamas and examine their values, what drives them and where they are going. While there are many young people in the population who are upwardly mobile and high achievers, there is a large segment who are dislocated, aimless and in a state of mental poverty. As a result, certain crimes are on the rise.
   A foreign investor in The Bahamas recently complained  that “in my 68 year life, I have had one break-in to my business and none to any home in the USA.  In the Bahamas in 20 years, perhaps a total of more than 30 break-ins to my properties.”
   It has gotten so bad that many people do not call the Police anymore in New Providence to report these break-ins.
  Globally, it was only in the early 1990s that discussions for a more holistic approach to development, one that probes beyond traditional economic measures, began to gain traction. Discussions on sustainable development eventually led to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in 2015. Achieving these goals would go a long way in solving social ills.
  The government of The Bahamas must be more intentional and committed to go beyond an urban renewal program and develop a Gross National Happiness (GNH) program which seeks to achieve a harmonious balance between material well-being and the spiritual, emotional and cultural needs of our society.  The purpose of development is to create enabling conditions for individuals to pursue happiness.
  GNH must be built on four interrelated pillars, namely sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development, preservation of culture, protection of the environment and good governance.
 This calls for law enforcement authorities, the Police and our courts to become more effective and efficient in ensuring that criminals are apprehended, prosecuted and punished.
 It also means that the government should place more emphasis on social development in the health and education sectors. 
  The moralizing institutions, namely the home and the church must play an active role in role in dispelling the “something for nothing syndrome“ and to instill the old value-system that hard work pays.
  The Bahamas needs a consensus on the need for more holistic development frameworks that speak to the interlinkages between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development. Increasingly, governments are broadening their focuses beyond economic and fiscal policies and looking to fine-tune public policy to better respond to societal needs, thus improving the lives of their citizens.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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