In the original developmental plans of Freeport, with the exception of schools, little or nothing was designed to deal with the social, psychological and communal enhancement of our people, and especially the young.
Neither were these amenities forthcoming fast enough as the city expanded economically.
Consequently, many Freeport residents, native Bahamians, still exhibit the posture of tourists or itinerant salesmen in their own land. Seven years into a brand new millennium, the stewardship of this city is still a distant dream in the hearts and minds of our people.
The social amenities, like parks, museums, common recreational facilities, youth centers, etc., were not included in the infrastructure of Freeport.
Consequently, they were left to, and by and large are still left to, the initiative of volunteer groups.
However, a major part of the responsibility of the social development of our people rests with the government which controls the revenue
collected from the city.
When one is aware of the vast financial contributions the city has made annually to the national treasury, one is baffled at the little benefits derived from that by the city.
Only recently, with the institution of Local Government have we seen at least a symbolic gesture of native involvement in the affairs of some of the structures which govern the operation of the city.
The fact remains, however, that there has been, and still is, insufficient infrastructure to foster a real sense of community and to allow full expression of our rich social, artistic and human potential in a metropolis like Freeport.
Greater scrutiny needs to be exercised in relation to all foreign investors and individuals seeking to live and do business in our city.
It should be made clear to them that in claiming the magnificent advantages of making this their home, they are obliged to invest simultaneously in the human resources development of our communities.
They need to understand
that their own economic success and stability depend to a large extent on the social and economic equilibrium they help to create in all sectors of our society.
Furthermore, over and above the purely political and economic considerations, attention has to be given to the scrutiny of all outside elements crossing our national borders with respect to their impact upon the sanctity of our people, our heritage and dignity.
Vigilance must be exercised at all times to safeguard our culture and the legacy for future generations.
Never should it be necessary for citizens of this country to have to defend their rights for free and unlimited access to the common heritage of land, sea and beach.
No amount of economic development could ever stave off eternal condemnation by future generations if we sell their inheritance for a pot of porridge.
The responsibility for this scrutiny must be vested in the perceptive and sensitive individuals who can be genuine guardians of our trust, mindful only of justice, love and truth.
Had this type of discrimination been operative during the inception and progressive stages of Freeport’s evolution, then the city would not have had to pass through the periods of trauma it has experienced.
The significance of our society does not lie solely in the accrued financial benefits
derived from sand, sea and sun.
Our real value resides in the people, and what worth is placed on us as a people will ultimately determine whether or not we continue to survive as a well integrated city in a sovereign nation.
Freeport presents an ideal situation for study. It possesses an enormous potential as a city in which one can realize all the expressions of the human potential – social, economic, psychological, educational and spiritual.
However, the means for fostering these values have to be specifically and sensitively planned at all stages and not left to be haphazardly dealt with by remedial measures when the ills of society become unbearable.
Our political independence gave us a false sense of security, the illusion that everything was ‘a-okay’ with our state of affairs.
Little heed then was paid or is being paid to the integrative development of our people.
Now we look hopelessly to governments and politicians to secure the missing elements or to filter out the destructive forces in our midst.
But they are woefully incompetent to do so.
We have come to know that what is politically expedient is not necessarily motivated by love of fellow-man.
Every government, regardless of its system, is an innocent mirror of the nation.
Therefore, we must accept that our government policies, actions and achievements will improve only when we as individual citizens become more orderly and coherent in our thinking and begin to spontaneously act according to natural law.
J. Krishnamurti states emphatically that:
‘There is no division, no separation between society and ourselves;
we are the world and the world is in us,
and to bring about a radical revolution in society –
which is absolutely essential –
there must first of all be a radical transformation in us.’
Today, as a result of knowledge and mass communication, we are a well educated body of people.
We know as much as our politicians or even more.
As individuals, therefore, we should feel very confident in our ability to make decisions, solve problems and manage institutions, including governments.
We have learnt that we cannot wait for politicians to move; if we do our societal problems will never be solved.
We simply need committed men and women who can get the job of national reconstruction done and who will not be frustrated in their tasks by inept politicians.
In light of our innate power and potential, we as informed and educated citizenry should agitate for much greater participation in the political decisions and issues which affect our lives and those of our children.
Like skilled architects we must perceive, envision, design and oversee the structure of the type of society in which we desire to live and leave as a legacy to our children, born and unborn.
This task may be especially daunting as a result of entrenched traditional practices.
However, with commitment to legal, economic and social measures of the highest ethical order, we can establish an equitable society.
But then, our idolatrous veneration of politicians must cease; they are not some demi-gods bestowed upon us from above, in spite of their obvious deity complex.
They are elected by us, from among us, to serve us.
And for this service they are handsomely paid from the public treasury.
If, then, they have not done their job and represented the people’s interests in parliament, then they cannot expect to be reelected.
Any particular form of government
under which we live is not thrust upon us by God or the devil.
It is of our own making,
and thus, we possess the power to democratically change it or revise it to harmonize with our aspirations.
has ever been ordained by Divine Right to rule.
We will, however, in spite of our newly found ability, continue to elect representatives because that is the way it has always been and will be as a matter of political expediency.
More and more of us, nevertheless, are expressing greater and greater distrust of
self-serving politicians by refusing to identify with them.
Time is fast approaching when one will be considered narrow-minded and of limited intelligence to be openly a member of any particular political party.
The apparently insurmountable problems of law and order are in the headlines every day and we stand by as helpless individuals as our nation is systematically violated.
We must recognize that criminals are born and bred in our society. The education they receive from school, home, church and society, leaves them handicapped persons incapable of distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate means of gaining satisfaction.
Society prepares the crime and criminal commits it.
A single man’s crime against society mirrors society’s crime against him. A disorder in one individual is a disorder in our whole community.
The fault is that ignorance prevails and the infinite potential of our people is not tapped.
The situation in our country is so critical that we as individuals can no longer wait for the clumsy initiatives of government before taking action to correct our social ills.
Every wise legislator know that making laws, even wonderful one, designed to raise the quality of life is not enough to actually improve the lot of society.
When the citizenry is inherently disorderly because of incoherent thinking and clouded perception, no amount of laws will restore order.
On the other hand when citizens are naturally orderly, excessive law-making is unnecessary and society flourishes.
What has been stated here can be applied generally to the entire Bahamas and not just Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Unless immediate and greater attention is given to the social ills of unemployment, drug abuse, escalating disregard for
life, law and order, then the economic sector will necessarily be retarded.
It is only on the basis of integration of personal (social) values and economic values that change can come about with the consequence of establishing an environment in which all of us can enjoy a fruitful and peaceful existence.
Freeport, and by extension the Bahamas, has the potential to become a model society internationally.
But much greater scrutiny must be afforded its social trends.
For unless each individual in society wakes up and realizes its precarious situation and shoulder the responsibility for setting a proper course, we stand to witness and our children wait to inherit an incredibly dangerous nation. WHO THEN, BUT WE, ARE IN CHARGE?!
‘The real issue then is whether human beings as are now,
living in this complex and corrupt society
with its wars, its struggles,
its ambitions and competitions
can bring about within ourselves
a radical transformation, not gradually,
through many days and many years,
but immediately, without accepting time at all.’
About the Author:
Mr. Joseph Darville is a native of Long Island, Bahamas and a resident of Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Teacher [English, French] at St. Augustine’s College in Nassau.
Teacher [French] Senior School Coordinator and Guidance Counselor a Queen’s College in Nassau.
Past Vice-President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers
He is a founding member and past President of the Bahamas Counselor’s
Past President of the Grand Bahama Mental Health Association
Past Vice President of the Caribbean Federation of Mental Health
Founding member and Chairman of Operation Hope, [volunteer drug prevention, education & rehabilitation program]
Co-Chairman of the Bahamas National Drug Council
Founding member and Past -President of Grand Bahama Human Rights Association
Founding member of the Caribbean Human Rights Network
Administrative Vice-President of the Freeport YMCA for three years
He is an Advanced Master/Teacher in Reiki training, a natural energy healing method, as well as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation.
Presently, he is Director of Workforce Development at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. He has received many awards for outstanding service and achievement in teaching, communication, and citizenship.
Joseph can be reached at