I had a very interesting conversation the other day about the mind set of human beings in the context of self-preservation. The discussion then evolved from preservation of self and property to that of the individual’s very core, that is, her soul.
Last week this column shared an historical perspective on how we have gotten to such a debase level in our society by citing the drug era and the consequent break down in family life as leading causes. In terms of understanding our mindset, I think it is necessary for us to go even further back than 25 or 30 years. In order for us to truly understand how the attitudes and mores of this society have evolved, we need to look back to the days of human slavery and colonial rule.
Even though slavery has been abolished for over 200 years the effects are still being felt today. Just last week the editor of this daily had to defend his right to conclude that Sir Stafford Sands was a very important individual in our Bahamian history based on his “monumental contributions” to the economic growth of this country. Apparently a reader believed Sir Stafford was a racist and no kind of accolades or kudos should be bestowed upon him for any reason.
This daily’s editor believed the reader to be a racist for not seeing past Sir Stafford’s skin colour. The sad truth though is that there are many individuals in this country who are still bound to the slavery of racism and continue their attempts at feeding this ignorance to anyone else who would listen.
Even more detrimental than this kind of prejudice is the prejudice that dark skinned individuals have towards each other. This becomes very apparent when great offence is taken if one is called “black” in this country. Additionally, such black skinned individuals try their earnest best not to marry or cohabitate with anyone who shares their ebony hue.
This paints a picture of self-loathing and low self-esteem that unfortunately is transferred to our children, thereby creating a vicious cycle. If an individual thinks very little of herself, it would be logical to deduce that she will not do everything in her power to create the best environment in which to live and survive.
Enslavement of the mind is more horrific than physical enslavement in that an individual has some chance of escaping this physical bondage. However, when you are mentally enslaved you cannot leave you, so you find ways to forget about yourself. Therefore in an attempt to runaway from yourself you may turn to drug use, sexual promiscuity, gambling, adultery, violence, or some other negative and demeaning behaviour.
By being a slave to the negativities of the past, you will continue to fall deeper and deeper into the abyss of loneliness and despair. And, there is no telling if or when you would come out of such a state.
Consequently then, how you view your life and those around you are directly connected to your mindset, so if we have any hope of changing the negative behaviours and attitudes of our people, we need to first look at changing our way of thinking. We must be willing to change our views and narrow visions if we want any chance at changing the destructive state of mind that is consuming our society.
Ponder the wise words of the late great Robert Nesta Marley:
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…” There is no clearer way to say it; we must free our minds of the chaos and destruction that holds us hostage to the vices of this world.
About the author:
Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at