By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press
The rapid rise of unbridled individualism, accompanied by a decline of collective commitment to community and country, has produced a changed society in which the very rule of law is compromised and national values have been discarded. Partying is now a notional priority, even as patience with reflection has waned. Young people opt out of organized national endeavours when they do not discern individual gains, and older citizens have retreated to their narrow confines.
One just has to look at the way the roadways are used to find it difficult not to conclude that civility and regard for the community are no longer parts of our national consciousness. From the bus drivers to the drivers of private cars, we seem to have signed on to a destiny of disorder and disregard for life and limb.
As the frequency of road fatalities rises, reckless driving has become more entrenched. What is worse is that nobody seems to care. There are more law enforcement officers on the streets, but they appear to be helpless in the face of the anarchy around them. Speeding, ‘popping’ of motor bikes, pulling in front of the lead vehicle at a traffic light, illegal overtaking, failure to stop at pedestrian crossings, ignoring the speed limit in school zones during the designated times, ignoring the ‘first in first out’ rule at 4-way intersections where there are no traffic signal or the traffic signal is inoperable, and basic road courtesies to pedestrians, especially to children and the elderly, are just a peep at some of the viruses that has infected our psyche.
While we quote statistics to show a decline in crime, and this is certainly wonderful, life has lost its value in The Bahamas; the threat of the sanction of the law is no longer a deterrent to crime. We seem to have given up as far as ensuring that our society graduates citizens whose respect for life is paramount. And you know what, the government cannot attend PTA meetings for you, nor help your child with his or her homework or make sure your children put in the requisite time after school with their school work as opposed to roaming the neighborhood or playing video games or watching TV.
I bought my first phone from money earned by me. My preteen grand children had smart phones forever it seems. What a difference a generation has made!
We have lost our way. We must find our way back home. All of us have a divine obligation to be an exceptional citizen. That is the way back home. It is the only way back home.
Manners and respect know no age or social status. And together they can take you where neither money nor friends can. One’s social status is no excuse for anyone not to take ownership of those things that makes us good citizens:
Be honest and trustworthy
Follow rules and laws
Respect the rights of others
Be informed about the world around you
Respect the property of others
Take responsibility for your actions
Be a good neighbor
Protect the environment
It is time that our politicians on both sides of the political divide come to grips with the fact that The Bahamas needs repair work beyond political rhetoric. While our leaders spar about macro-economics and politics, our nation is dying at its very soul. But it’s not only our politicians who must take responsibility for our condition; the citizenry at large has to find its collective soul again.
Something drastic and intentional has to be done to pull us back from the brink.