Characteristics That Make For A Great Country

Characteristics That Make For A Great Country

Bahindep
 
Without question, most Bahamians wish for the Bahamas to be the best little country in the region. Fortunately, there are certain features that already make our island nation an object of pride, such as proximity to the United States, favorable climate year round, pristine waters, seas with some of the best marine life, and friendly and gifted people who, for the most part, possess an awareness and appreciation of God.  Nevertheless, as we celebrate the 43rd year as an independent nation, there are a few qualities and characteristics that one would wish were more apparent in the moral fiber of this our Bahamaland.  Accordingly, I share the following from my perspective.
The quality of transparency speaks to the willingness to allow for scrutiny and examination. Facilitating openness builds confidence and trust, while minimizing suspicion and doubt. An issue that has generated much discussion for years is the matter of Campaign Finance Reform. It is about time that both government and opposition commit to this needed reform by enacting the necessary legislation to bring about unrestrained sharing of information with regard to political financial contributions.
Additionally, the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, which is closely related, is long over due.  In a 43-year-old country, citizens have a right to know how their funds are spent and a right to be given an account of how the affairs of their nation are being run. I am often challenged by the prime example of the Bible character, Daniel, as noted in Daniel 6:2. There, the Bible records that a heathen king, Darius, chose Daniel to ensure that “the king would suffer no loss.” Daniel had a reputation of not only being honest, but transparent in his dealings.
Because no powerful country ignores law and order, a commitment to accountability is vital. Accountability means agreeing to hold oneself answerable to others or to a system. No one is lord unto himself. Each of us is responsible to some authority or someone else. Disregarding such breathes chaos.
Respect for God and our leaders is another imperative to which a progressive country adheres. Says the Bible, “Believe in the Lord your God, and so shall you be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20, NKJV). A high regard must not be reserved for a particular government or political party, or color, or label. Respect is due to all elected personnel. In fact, citizens must learn to hold in high esteem the office of such persons even if there is a preference for an opposing political party. In addition, as a people, we ought to value and appreciate the environment in which we reside inclusive of our beaches, green spaces, cemeteries, public buildings, parks, and communities. Imagine if citizens were to take a personal interest in their surroundings. The Bahamas, then, would not only be clean, green, and pristine, but the envy of many.
Justice and fairness are equally important for a country of 43 years. Obtaining employment ought not to require an endorsement of a parliamentarian or a letter from the same. A great country should not require one’s unquestioned allegiance to a political party or leader to ensure job security. Needless to say, the aforementioned practices stifle creativity and interfere with the advancement of an enlightened country.  On April 4, 2016, one of the dailies observed in its editorial, “In 2014, the Inter-American Development Bank released a report ‘Is there a Caribbean Sclerosis?’ The report noted that The Bahamas loses 61% of tertiary degree holders representing nearly 4.4 percent of our GDP.” The editor continued by asking “Could it be that some Bahamians find political repression, economic stagnation and near criminal warfare as reasons to stay abroad? Absolutely, it is indeed a sad irony that our brightest Bahamians choose to stay away for many of the same reasons that others seek refuge here.”
The “red tape” must be eliminated, and persons ought to be judged on the basis of qualification as opposed to religious or political affiliation, family name, or whether he or she attended a certain school etc.
A great country values its citizens and their abilities. The Bible makes the point that all persons are gifted (1 Corinthians 12:7). In light of this biblical truth, leaders ought to search out indigenous talent and expertise needed in given areas and allow for such to be utilized to the benefit of all. This will certainly minimize the reliance on overseas consultants. While a flourishing country does not exclude input from the global community, it must be careful not to ignore the wealth of local talent.  More must be done to extoll the contributions of one another, be they in sports, education, health, finance, religion etc. So many of our people are being recognized internationally for their great achievements, while in their hometown, they receive little or no honour.
A successful country does not discriminate against its people, for they are all important and valuable. The Bible makes the point that God made male and female in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, to discriminate is not in keeping with the example of God. Also, God made all beings with the power of choice, even to choose contrary to His will. The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes this fact and supports the right of all to choose. Of course, one’s choice may not always be in keeping with God’s ideal. Using the Bible as its guide, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, therefore, educates and informs of dangers inherent in certain choices that one may make.  Inasmuch as the Seventh-day Adventist Church supports one’s right to choose, this stance is not tantamount to the Adventist Church endorsing the choice that one may make. These are two different things.  Adventists advocate that supporting a person’s right to choose makes for a democratic society, whereas teaching responsibility and the value of choosing according to the Bible makes for a righteous nation. In a great country, the rights of all people must be respected.
Finally, no prosperous nation develops without a sense of gratitude and appreciation. Thanksgiving must become a way of life for a 43-year-old nation. That disposition will come only when we begin to value what we have. Regrettably, sometimes it requires one to travel outside of the country to have an appreciation for what exists in the Bahamas. Needless to say, we are more than sun, sand, and sea. Were that not the case, many people would not want to visit or live here. Our country offers much more, and we should cherish what we possess, especially the nobleness and strength inherent in our people. Hopefully, gratitude will engender a sense of national pride for who we are and the way we live. Timothy Gibson, composer of our national anthem, clearly understood this pride for he penned, “See how the world marks the manner of your bearing! Pledge to excel through love and unity. Pressing onward, march together to a common loftier goal; . . .'Til the road you've trod lead unto your God, March on Bahamaland.”
God bless the Bahamas! Happy 43rd anniversary Bahamas!