Within a matter of days, we shall celebrate this Nation’s Independence. As usual, this year’s events will be marked by a plethora of prayers and an untold number of speeches and sermons focused on the claim that while we have come a long way, we also have a long way to go.
Tragically, Independence Day runs the very real risk of being marred by thugs and other miscreants intent on hurting themselves and others.
Today we continue to pray God’s grace and guidance over our land. We pray that those who lead do so with and through an ethic that tells them that since “…We are all together in this boat, we sink or swim together…”
Evidently we should be up and doing for ourselves and some among us might opt to become pioneers in building a brand new Bahamas.
This implies that a renewed Bahamas must be one where the Bahamian people produce more of the food that they consume and that it would be a place where foreign direct investment and Bahamian entrepreneurship and initiative would work in tandem.
Even more so, genuine renewal demands that focused attention be put on the well-being of this nation’s youth.
Sadly: On any given day, thousands of this nation’s children trudge to school and as they do, we are fairly certain that the vast majority of them are either hungry, malnourished or both.
Based on what we know about the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases, it would be fair to conclude that the vast majority of our students have parents who are themselves hungry, malnourished or both.
This is no sturdy basis for the real development of our nation.
We yearn for the soon-coming of that day when each child in every public school facility is guaranteed on a daily basis at least one good balanced meal – preferably breakfast; with such food coming not from food-stores, but from farms owned and run by Bahamians.
We sincerely believe that a project of this nature can be economically viable; that it can be funded by government and its social partners; and with our Churches and unions and credit unions playing commensurately large parts.
Our nation’s children will become – in the ultimate analysis – the biggest winners.
Today we make these suggestions in light of currently available indicators suggest that the Bahamian people should – as of now – brace themselves for the onset of any number of wrenching changes.
One such change involves this nation’s and our region’s speedier access to food that is inexpensive, nutritious, available and accessible, all at once.
Despite the fact that chronic non-communicable diseases are costing the Bahamian people so very much, it remains a sad fact of life that precious little is being done to counteract the damage done.
It is also sadder yet that we know that such diseases can be fought and can be prevented if only people were better educated.
But saddest of all happens to be the fact that there are some businesses that thrive off the damage done the people who suffer from this or that chronic non-communicable disease.
The government can – if only it would – make a major difference.
It is as true today as it has ever been that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
This thought today comes to mind as we reflect on the fact that tens of millions of dollars are being borrowed to help expand the Princess Margaret Hospital.
While this is good enough and is perhaps long overdue, we would have been happier had some of the borrowed resources been ear-marked to fund projects aimed at prevention.
This is especially important in this time of crisis-revealed; a time when we either pull together for the achievement of the common good or find ourselves ruined one after the other.
This time stands in sharp contradistinction to times past when the living was easy. Indeed, it is now becoming the common-sense of the realm to suggest that those days when the living was easy and when money somehow flowed our way, may be a thing of the past.
We must – as a people united in service and love – dig deep into our souls; gird ourselves – and otherwise gear up not only to fight back against those who would destroy us, but also so as to prevent some of most vulnerable – our youth – from becoming victims to the mire.
This is the balance that must be struck between the so-called “fight” against crime and the ongoing struggle to make living in The Bahamas more commodious for the rest of us.