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The conclusion: the re-sensitization process for national development


Published: Jul 24, 2017

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Dear Editor,

 

Thank you for printing the final article in this series.

Now the summation: We must move toward a re-sensitivity, toward a respect for absolute divine authority, then relative human, governmental authority – the authority of love. As we move, we begin with realizing Martin Luther King Jr.’s lament that whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Each man’s death diminishes me. Cain had no idea that he began the process of his own psychological and physiological suicide when he committed the murder of Abel. When our natural instinct to life predominates, when we realize the interrelatedness of all life, we are more reluctant to diminish ourselves. Consequently we are more willing to sustain ourselves through the sustaining of others, knowing that we are our brother’s keeper. It continues by respecting the Christian truism that we are made imago dei – in God’s image – and realizing that from the biblical text emanate the timeless, universal laws that provide a framework of ethical and moral conduct that makes all mankind safe, self-actualized and divine in his daily comportment.

Re-sensitization continues by King Zedekiah (political authority) asking the Jeremiahs (prophets) of his day, “Is there a word from the Lord?” King, prophet and priest should function in tandem. We cannot afford to import the doctrine of separation of church and state, practicing atheistic pragmatism, not deistic governance. There must be an abiding sense of accountability of the king to God, first and foremost developed in his personal life, then demonstrated in his public life by incorporating the priestly and prophetic functions in state affairs.

Re-sensitization steadies along when the king himself performs the role as priest (as seen in Saul offering sacrifices, Jehoshaphat calling solemn assemblies in national emergencies). Our leader at any governmental period ought to know when to pray as a Solomon. Such leadership ministers to the holistic needs of society – those needs which are social, spiritual, educational and economic. The paradigm of being primarily responsible for economic prosperity is myopic, thus detrimental to being a “father” of the nation. The king must know when to adorn the hat of the shepherd, speaking passionately to his flock, leading to green pastures (economic prosperity), leading beside still waters (emotional security), leading in the paths of righteousness (morally). This subsuming “king, prophetic, priestly” function could catapult the much needed re-sensitization process.

Further, the king (government, including opposition); priests/prophets (ecclesiastical body) and business community must know when to come together to triangulate nation building efforts. This builds morale, and meaning in the individual, hence collective conscience of each citizen. This trifold coming together, demanding partisan political “un-clothing” and the “re-clothing” of the “I am a Bahamian first” garment is absolutely. The lack of such a roundtable of discussions, identification of deep structured problems and the formulation of strategies indicative of a systematic approach to a national development plan to combat social ills of various sorts and degrees can only hasten our descent into a national abyss. Said Dr. King: “Either we work together as brothers or perish together as fools”.

Re-sensitization will use this triangulation to create a national development plan that transcends political governments, becoming our governmental national development constitution, although successive governments may use different strategies.

Re-sensitization will mean more of a proactive and preemptive, not reactive, approach to national civility. Increases in police manpower, cars and other resources are laudable. A just and expedient judiciary is commendable, as, perhaps, is the enforcement of capital punishment. But these are all reactive, not proactive. Bahamians must combat crime beginning with brotherly sensitivity inside each individual spirit. We must love ourselves and love our brother. Hurting the brother becomes hurting ourselves.

Re-sensitization begins with every man policing himself and being a law abiding citizen. A re-sensitization of the need to follow simple law and order is excruciatingly lacking. If there is a growing cultural disregard and disdain for authority, at least police yourself. Society has been historically centered on the major crimes and violation of law that we have unfortunately paid little attention to the smaller violations. We know that termites eat away at foundations. Corroding rust seems small on steel, but give it time. We must re-sensitize ourselves to the importance of everyday, seemingly innocuous or harmless violations. For these sow the seeds of tolerance for the greater, subconscious cultural imbedding of anarchy that blossoms into present society.

I remember vividly a staff meeting while teaching at A.F. Adderley in the mid-90s. We had convened to discuss the gang violence that was destroying the school, threatening teacher and student safety. “Enough is enough” was the motto. During the meeting I raised a question and made a comment that relegated me to the category of either a rebel, non-conformist or just plain old out of touch. I challenged my colleagues to not look at the few students who were always engaging in deviant and violent gang fighting. I asked them to consider that their fighting was not always premeditated. Some of it was, but the majority of it was reactionary to unforeseen circumstances. The real problem we have on this campus, I said confidently, was not the occasional fighting. The real defiant, anti-authority, “bad” students were the ones who walked through the gate every single day, intentionally and blatantly violating uniform codes with improper shoes and pants, excessive and forbidden accessories and no crests; those who were constantly tardy, etc.

Of course I was castigated, stared at and my comments were disregarded. The point I was making was that there was a population that was deliberately defying school rules, practicing student anarchy on a lower, apparently insignificant level. These were the real problematic students, presenting the most disrespect for, and destruction of, the system. These were the quintessential rule breakers, not the students who, without premeditation, provoked and engaged in fights of spontaneity.

This is a good place to proffer that re-sensitization to alleviate the senseless violence in this country should include introducing students to core human values at early ages, thus calling for a slight adjustment to the school curriculum. Personal and social adjustment classes and conflict management skills should be taught early as in primary school. Basic respect for self, others and the properties of others must be inculcated during formal academic years.

Re-sensitization realizes that while less than five percent of our population engages in violent criminal behavior, there is an exponential amount that, every day, in simple but profound ways, violates our laws intentionally, defiantly and blatantly. If we are serious, then a re-sensitization would excoriate those apparent simple acts of blatant disregard for law and order. But excoriating these acts reflects one observing acts of another. How about us getting to that point when we judge, police and lawfully referee ourselves? True patriotism is adhering to cultural and moral norms, avoiding unlawful or any other behavior to ingratiate our own needs in the moment at the expense of civility. True patriotism is demonstrated when the collective consciousness reflects the individual law abiding proclivity, thus the individual determines the collective. The whole is not greater than the part.

In conclusion, re-sensitization informs us that in Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, the threat was not external, but internal. Gradual rejection of collective responsibility; gradual desensitization toward community; and gradual acceptance of moral degeneration, political corruption, religious tyranny/hypocrisy and individual gratification all led to Rome’s demise. It was a gradual seed planting before the implosion, the destruction of the self by the self from within the self. Then came the accusation, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned”. Let’s all stop the fiddling and quit the finger pointing, because all incurred great loss, not Nero alone.

Remember: Either we all work together as brothers and sisters, or we perish together as fools.

 

– Dr. B

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