Opinion

What is best for Bahamian society

June 23, 2017

As many would know, as of May 10, 2017, The Bahamas has a new government. As some would also be aware, I was a candidate for a third party, the Democratic National Alliance, in the 2017 general election for the constituency of Garden Hills. The party gained no seats in parliament. Actually, it lost ground as it had more votes the first time it stood candidates for the election in 2012.
However, what we gained was the attention of observers who willingly understood that we had the best format, best mix of people and the best plan for developing our country moving forward. What we did not have was a win, which is quite unfortunate but we move on. In fact, the massive loss was satisfactory as both major parties had to step up their game just a little to ensure they got a win. Sometimes in loss you can get more than in a victory that blinds you from the nature of things!
But upon reflection after the general election, and it was not based merely on the defeat of the DNA, or the failure to get any seats in Parliament, I was humbled by the discourse that took place during the election. Humbled in a very calm and serious way. As a result, I got to thinking: What in the world are we all doing out here? Seems like a simple question, but a very difficult one to many.
I have listened to many persons over the last few years about politics over many different issues. Some of it interesting, some of it just annoying to be truthful. But what I found from the two major parties is that the conversation is hardly ever about ideals, but slogans, and at the height of it, who is holier-than-thou. All of that, smattered in with superficial condemnations that make you wonder if we are in a school playground, or are we talking about nation building and what's best for our society?
When we boil it all down, what's best for The Bahamas is truly what matters. It's not about who can make up the most fake scandals on the other, or who has a better theme, which team can make the best deals for themselves when they win government, or who has more eye-catching candidates -- even though some of these things matter a great deal to a great many people -- because some of it rightly shows fitness and readiness with regard to tackling the nation's issues.
What I have seen in this election and in elections of the past, is that politics has become such a game of win or lose that what's best for the society does not factor into the discussion at all. In fact, winning is primary, as it is the only way a political party can be assured that it can do what's best for the society. However, when that becomes all of what politics is about, we end up with a term of nothingness as more focus is geared on winning rather than what's best for the society.
It has come to the point, and I am not afraid to admit it, that I do not even bother to listen to some people, even if it is at the expense of my losing valuable information. As they say, a broken clock can be right at least once a day, but I prefer to be filled in later when some people offer up their opinions on what they feel is important, especially if they have been shown to have a particular trait of foolery. Honestly, as I get older, the simpler course seems better than getting fancy.
With that being said, what is in fact best for our society? I'm sure we have some broad strokes as to what that means or entails: good education for our people, reductions in crime, good jobs, decent wages, clean environment and a government that works with us and not against us. The issue is, however, how does one go about these things for the betterment of society?
I am not ashamed to say that I believe anything that works is best. That is just the simple fact, and may be why all political parties sound the same today and will continue to sound more and more of the same during elections, even if their rhetoric prior to a victory never matches up with what they do after they win office.
Does that mean ideologies, for example, left vs. right, socialist vs. capitalist, democracy vs. socialism, and things of that nature, are meaningless in the grand scheme of things? I hope not. Because I for one am from a school where the causes of things matter, and the root in the ground determines the fruit of the tree. Some things in some situations bring forth a certain end result. That's what nature intended. What makes politicians and their political messaging special and successful, is how does one sell that which is an ideology as a necessary, practical solution to the problems of today, and not have it lost in a conversation of deplorable badness but virtuous wholesomeness?
If I had the answer to some of these questions I would be in Parliament. I will also be very direct in saying that from what I see from political parties in The Bahamas, there is not that much thought put into it that would suggest they know either. While I do see some semblance of science being brought to the table, we are still in a smash-mouth political style that is slowly, but surely, maturing.
All in all, we hope that what is best for our society gets mentioned again. In earnest. Because as it stands now, a healthy dose of that type of conversation is needed from those on the public platform. Truly!
Youri Aramin Kemp was the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) candidate for Garden Hills in The Bahamas and the party's spokesperson for finance and the economy. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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The UN SDG 14: Will the Caribbean benefit in the blue economy

June 23, 2017

Broadly understood, the 'Blue Economy' is an economic activity that is in balance with the long-term capacity of ocean and coastal ecosystems to support this activity and remain healthy and resilient. This being the case, how then can the 'Blue Economy' offer an immediate life line for the more than 40 million people that now lie in peril from the ravages of climate change in the Caribbean?
Although small developing island states are paying interest to the areas that depend on marine environment in the 'Blue Economy', it must also be noted that the devastating effects of climate change and ocean acidification in the Caribbean are rapidly changing the relationship between people and their environment. Coral reefs in the Caribbean are experiencing severe bleaching. Loss of mangrove vegetation along coastlines, beach erosion, and the destruction of marine life are making this 'Blue Economy' theory nonexistent.
Environmental experts further determine that rising sea levels and surge from more intense storms are expected to dramatically transform shorelines in the Caribbean, bringing enormous economic and social costs.
According to statistics, 70 percent of Caribbean populations living in coastal settlements will in time be devoured by rising sea levels, increasing hurricane intensity, and disrupting lives, property and livelihood. The rising of ocean water levels also increases the salinity of coastal aquifers, reducing the availability of fresh water through wells and springs and limiting the supply of fresh water.
Moreover, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre further stresses that the projected costs to the region due to increased hurricane damage, loss of revenue to the tourism sector and damage to infrastructure, could be US$10 billion by 2025 and US$22 billion by 2050.
On that basis, it is estimated that the adverse effects of climate change could cost Caribbean countries up to 75% of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100.
Thus the brilliant opportunity for the Caribbean to evolve on its policy position in this 'Blue Economy' through the United Nations high level Ocean summit is of paramount importance. Not only does it readily ascertain that the health of a people, communities and the ecosystems are under serious threat, but it presents many unanswered questions.
The real question is whether CARICOM states are

resolved on categorizing the "red line" issue of this 'Blue Economy' at this United Nations high level Ocean conference.
Are CARICOM negotiators

providing new ideas for policies and approaches in dealing with disaster risks and vulnerabilities, as well as providing commendations that will apprise policies, campaigns, and programs for building resilience to the events related to climate change in the Caribbean?
Or, alternatively, will international organizations, multinational companies, and NGOs and governments

take immediate actions against rising sea levels, and the destabilization of climate patterns that undermine the dependable agricultural cycles that are rapidly leading to food scarcity in the Caribbean?
Notwithstanding the fact that the Caribbean island of Grenada remains the only

Caribbean island to develop a vision for an economy based on blue growth, it cannot be denied that when it comes to the subject of the 'Blue Economy' in the Caribbean, innovative financing options and international support are urgently needed.
On this, "United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is supporting Grenada to identify new and innovative financing options, including developing the world's first 'blue' social impact bond, and is looking at how aid providers can make their financing more 'catalytic' and responsive to national development priorities. UNDP is also providing technical support to leverage different sources of development finance, including climate finance."
But here again, if the 'Blue Economy' is to take precedence in other Caribbean states, then there must be a re-visitation of the political obligation of the Paris Climate change agreement.

The new emerging challenges of climate change in the Caribbean must be addressed if the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 is to make an impact towards the 2030 target. The need to ascertain an economic recovery and divergence plan for the Caribbean's upcoming hurricane season requires urgent attention at this UN high level ocean summit if the Caribbean is to fit well into this 'Blue Economy'.
Indisputably, Caribbean small island developing states are among the most profoundly indebted states in the world. This means that completing the task of

the 'Blue Economy' for Caribbean states requires

funding and access to new technologies. Mitigation actions are urgently needed

to adjust to the hostile bearings of climate change in the Caribbean.
Given all that, ocean acidification continues to have shocking long-term impact on the growth and development of Caribbean states. Climate change positions a significant danger on the socio-economic settings and on the physical resources of Caribbean states. Climate change is now confirmed in every fragment of the Caribbean economy. The damage from climate change is not an isolated threat, but a lived and present reality in the Caribbean.
Consequently, if Caribbean states are to use the 'Blue Economy' approach to expand their

economy, then the efforts to promote ocean sustainability through the high level United Nations summit

must also guarantee new methods whereby ocean development can increase economic productivity, generate jobs and decrease poverty.
The prospects for 'blue growth' development in the Caribbean should be concentrated in areas such as fisheries and aquaculture, blue biotechnology, renewable energy, research and innovation.

o Rebecca Theodore is an op-ed columnist based in Washington, DC. She writes on national security and political issues. Follow her on twitter @rebethd or email at rebethd@aol.com. Published with the permission of Caribbean news Now.

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He came to rescue us

June 22, 2017

"Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned -- for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!" - Romans 5:9-15

We live in the computer age. Many of us cannot live without our computer. However, in this computer age we are plagued by something called a virus.
A virus can be deadly to computers. It comes as a simple welcoming message, usually in an e-mail. As soon as the receiver clicks on to that message to open it, the virus contained therein moves with lightening speed to millions of computers around the world, creating a deadly affect.
At the genesis of creation, God warned our foreparents about Satan's virus. However, they ignored God's warning and clicked onto Stan's simple message. Immediately the deadly virus of sin was born.
Since the fall, all humans are affected by the sin virus, which brings death to us all. This virus is a part of our DNA. We inherit it at birth. We cannot escape it.
Even though sin does affect us all, we have a way out of our dilemma. The God of love, our heavenly Father, did not abandon us and leave us to fend for ourselves.
He could have turned His back on us humans when we rebelled against Him. But He did not.
Instead, He came to rescue us from ourselves and the devil.
Out of pure love for His creation He made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself. Through His son, the Christ, we can all find a way back to God. In baptism, we are baptized into Christ's death and resurrection and are sealed with God's spiritual indelible mark.
God, in the person of His son Jesus the Christ, came into the world and lived among us. During His time on earth, He taught us how to love God and to live with our fellow men.
The apostle Paul gives us reassurance in Romans 5:7-8, "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Who would die for an enemy? No one! Yet God did for us.
He demonstrated His love for us, sinners, His enemies, by sending His son to take our sin upon Himself and bear the burden of our punishment. God vent His wrath upon Jesus, our Lord and Savior, on Calvary's cross so that we would be spared His wrath.
Satan continues to come after us with his deadly virus in a simple message. We do not have to click on it. Instead, let us cling to Christ our Savior. He is our way out of the maize of deadly sin. He is our way back to God. The apostle John tells us in John 3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them." Amen.

o Reverend Samuel Boodle, pastor of the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr., P. O. Box N4794, New Providence, Bahamas, or telephone 426-9084.

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Good judgment is vital

June 22, 2017

There's no doubt about it whatsoever, if you wish to succeed in all aspects of your overall life, you quite definitely need to be able to make the correct judgments more often than you make bad ones. Yes indeed, as today's title simply and succinctly puts it, good judgment is vital. Yes it is, in all facets of your life.
I mean when you're choosing a mate whom hopefully you'll spend the rest of your life with, judgment most definitely comes in to play. After all, as we all unfortunately know only too well, the divorce rate worldwide is extremely high, and mores the pity. A whole lot of this is due to people not making good judgments when choosing a mate.
Then, of course, when one chooses a career, one needs to be sure to choose one which number one lends itself to your particular skills, and number two, one which you feel you'll enjoy doing for the rest of your life. Then when picking an institution of higher learning which will give you the knowledge and skills which will assist you to succeed at your chosen profession, once again good judgment is vital so that you get the best tuition possible to enable you to graduate with the highest honors, and are thus very qualified to take on a job which will hopefully lead to a long and successful career which you will both excel at and really enjoy.
Of course, as I have emphasized over and over again, the spiritual part of one's life is so very important. So be sure that you once again use good judgment when choosing your particular spiritual belief system so that you grow in spiritual wisdom. Yes indeed, if you wish to succeed, across the board, you need to realize that good judgment is vital. Yes it is.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Davis, Hanna-Martin and most senior PLPs still don't get it

June 22, 2017

The gain and loss of power both require restraint. Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham would likely rewrite the manner and tone in which he addressed the nation the evening of the FNM's 2012 election loss.
With the crush of emotions descending on him following the PLP's recent electoral decimation, including his bitter loss of the Centreville constituency he held for four decades, it may have been best that former Prime Minister Perry Christie did not appear the night of his party's staggering defeat.
Unfortunately, as was often the case while he was in government, defeated Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell demonstrated no restraint in his bizarre and ballistic bombast after the loss.
The words and tone he offered suggested someone in meltdown, with no sense of humility, restraint or self-reflection. Rage and the lust for power typically limit one's capacity for self-awareness, prudence and good judgement.
There was a telling line in Mitchell's wild-eyed rant which summarized his mindset and further offended a populace that overwhelmingly rejected the PLP: "Politics is not a crying game. It is a competition for power. Power is the only fact. They have it, we want it and need it to govern and protect the poor in this country."
Most of the poor and most Bahamians do not believe that the PLP desired power in order to serve the poor. Most believe that Mitchell and other senior PLPs lusted for power to serve their own self-absorbed needs and to protect their interests.
Since the election, a number of PLP parliamentarians have spoken of their undying concern for the poor. But in office, the PLP's corruption, waste and luxury living and travel at taxpayer expense was an affront to poorer Bahamians, whom the PLP often used as props. The PLP victimized the country with its reckless governance.
Most of the poor, much like the hard-working, laboring and middle classes, did not feel that the Christie-led PLP government was serving their interests. Rather, they believed that many senior PLPs were busy padding their pockets and those of their close associates, family and friends.
The people of Centreville and other traditional PLP seats grew tired of the PLP taking them for granted and treating them as supposed fools at election time, offering handouts and other inducements to secure votes. The rum and entertainment strategy of the PLP failed spectacularly.

Grassroots
Most of the poor abandoned the PLP after the PLP abandoned them over the past five years. Hence the wipeout of PLP MPs in grassroots areas.
If they govern well and offer uplifting policies and programs for the inner city areas of New Providence, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and the FNM may be able to rewrite the political geography and the political voting patterns of these areas.
Because of his background and biography, Minnis has the opportunity to shatter the PLP's supposed lock on certain constituencies, in both senses of the word. The FNM should be aggressive and unyielding in these efforts.
While it clearly has a superior progressive record than the two Christie administrations, the FNM, because of Hubert Ingraham and now Hubert Minnis, is on track to being seen as the more progressive political force in the country.
Correspondingly, the PLP's historic narrative and mythology is being upended. The problem within the PLP is that they are far from figuring out how to respond to this challenge. And they are uncertain as to how to attract a younger generation of voters no longer wed to the shibboleths of a PLP that no longer exists.
When Bahamians from all walks of life compare Brave Davis and Hubert Minnis, there is no doubt that most view the latter as the greater champion of the poor and grassroots.
While the PLP gushed about its supposed love for the poor during the recent budget debate, Minnis offered specific proposals for grassroots Bahamians, including the possibility of free Wi-Fi in certain areas, a pilot program for computers for children in government-operated preschools, and other proposals.
At the last election, the PLP base shattered. Thousands of PLPs could no longer bring themselves to vote for the party of their youth, or, in other cases, the party of their parents and grandparents.
The PLP is run by an oligarchy. It is mostly a business with a political arm. When Christie secured the leadership of the PLP, he boasted that he would reform the party. It was an empty boast intended for an external audience.

Wipeout
Within the PLP Christie governed mostly on behalf of the oligarchs, the PLP high command and a consortium of cronies. The wipeout on May 10 has done nothing to diminish the power or control of these groups. It may take another electoral defeat to displace the political barnacles, who will continue to weigh down the PLP ship.
The nearly wholesale rejection of the PLP and the revelations of misconduct, abuse of power and all manner of cronyism by the PLP, revealed by the Minnis administration, have not brought on a hint of humility or remorse from PLP parliamentarians.
They do not even have the ability, for political purposes, to fake humility or remorse. One reason is that they are still playing mostly to the PLP gallery and not the wider public, who are disgusted by their performance since May 10.
The PLP defense team seems to think that Bahamians are stupid -- that most are buying their defense in response to alleged misfeasance of PLP Cabinet ministers and their rationalizations of the poor conduct of the Christie administration.
Because they all seem to be jockeying for position within the PLP, they are unable to admit error, to express remorse, to say, "We messed up" or "Sorry, we often took you for granted".
Such expressions of contrition are not signs of weaknesses. They are a necessary condition for most Bahamians to even begin to look again at the PLP.
Given his temperament and pattern of political engagement, Mitchell is likely to continue to be belligerent in his new role in the Senate. While this will appeal to the hardest of the PLP base, it will also turn off many PLPs and most voters.
The FNM should utilize political jujitsu, using the weight of the PLP's petulance, belligerence and defensiveness in Parliament to knock down the weakness of its opponents and further unmask their shameful record over the past five years.
The remnants of the PLP in the House of Assembly may believe that they are mounting a valiant defense of their party's legacy in government. But what may have been accomplished in the early years of PLP-led government, in the early years of majority rule and of young nationhood, has long ago been tarnished.
It was tarnished because of the PLP's accommodation of money launderers, drug traffickers and other sordid individuals who connived to destroy our social fabric, weaken families and undermine social norms during the latter part of the 1970s into the 1980s.
The legacy of the more recent PLP-led administrations between 2002 and 2007 and 2012 and 2017 is one of mismanagement, corruption and conflicts of interest. Instead of reforming the PLP, Christie, with the complicity of others, did more harm than good to the legacy and lifeblood of the party.
The PLP is incapable of change given its current leader and most of its parliamentary group. As Mitchell indicated in his enraged post-election screed, the PLP really only knows and respects power.
Perhaps the PLP will only reform after being denied power for a substantial period of time. Even then, the jury will remain out on such a prospect.

o frontporchguardian@gmail.com, www.bahamapundit.com.

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Ignorance is not bliss

June 21, 2017

I can remember as a kid growing up in England and Ireland, there was a popular saying 'Ignorance is Bliss'; in fact, I do believe there was a radio program with the same name. But My Friend, today at the beginning of the 21st Century anyone who believes that 'Ignorance is Bliss' is a complete fool, without a lot of knowledge you will not be very happy ....that's for sure!
Yes My Friend, in today's world, it's absolutely important that we all acquire as much knowledge as we can, that is of course if we wish to succeed in today's competitive world. Yes if you wish to get ahead in life it's most important for you to get a good education, whilst learning a particular skill if you wish to be able to compete in the job market and thus get a good start in life. No 'Ignorance Is Not Bliss', and if you remain ignorant in today's world you will not have a chance in Hell, as that well known saying so bluntly proclaims, of initially getting a decent paying job and ultimately being able to ascend up the Ladder of Success to earn a decent wage.
Of course, as we all know, today our education does not, or at least should not end when we leave high school. As a matter of fact learning should be a lifelong process for all would be achievers
Yes My Friend, the days when they used to say, incorrectly of course, that 'Ignorance is Bliss' are over for as today's title proclaims it 'Ignorance Is Not Bliss' for without a good education you will get left behind in today's competitive world. So please enroll in a course of higher education today, and you'll benefit beyond your wildest dreams.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Hofstede's six dimensions of national culture

June 21, 2017

Professor Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist, conducted comprehensive studies of the way in which culture influences values in the workplace. Hofstede and his research team identified six dimensions of national culture, and by national culture it is meant "the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from another". Hofstede's six dimensions of national culture include:
1. Power distance;
2. Individualism;
3. Masculinity;
4. Uncertainty avoidance;
5. Long-term orientation; and
6. Indulgence.
Power distance has to do with how less powerful members of a country accept and expect the unequal distribution of power.
Individualism, as opposed to collectivism, describes how people accept in their social setting in a loose social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate family.
Masculinity, as opposed to femininity, refers to the preference by a community for achievement, heroism, assertiveness, material rewards and competitiveness, as opposed to cooperation, modesty, caring and the like.
Uncertainty avoidance refers to the discomfort the members of the community feel about not knowing facts or ambiguity.
Long term orientation refers to communities that tend to honor long standing traditions and norms and look suspiciously on change.
Indulgence versus restraint refers to a community's preference for letting members live free to gratify themselves and have fun.
Based upon these dimensions, Hofstede and his team were able to compare countries to each other, and proffer that the differences between countries might explain how workplace values might differ in each. For Hofstede, the idea is not to say which culture is better than the other but to simply explain how culture might shape behavior, and tendencies leading to certain outcomes in everyday life.
The Bahamas, at least in so far as any search I did is concerned, does not seem to have been examined against Hofstede's six dimensions of culture. Jamaica has, scoring a power distance of 45/100, individualism of 39/100, masculinity of 68/100 and uncertainty avoidance of 13/100. In other words, Jamaica's culture tends toward assertiveness and achievement, less so toward expecting equality of power between leaders and followers; even less so toward a "do it on your own" mind-set; and almost not at all toward tolerating uncertainty and ambiguity. Sounds about right to me.
I believe that a professional assessment of our culture might be useful and go a long way to provide insights into why some of our political, economic and social systems work as they do. If I had to guess at it, I would guess that our scores would make us a culture that largely expects unequal power distribution between leaders and followers (65/100); splits our preference for masculinity over femininity (50/100); leans in favor of individualism (60/100); marginally tolerates uncertainty and ambiguity (55/100); tends to adhere to longstanding traditions and customs while slow to embrace chance (55/100); and is a marginally non-indulgent group (45/100). If my guess is correct, it might explain why strong leaders have been able to take hold in the country for such a long time, but why now that type of leadership is experiencing to pushback; it might explain why we tend to be so laidback in our approach to tackling problems and why high achievement is not a high priority in our society at large; it might explain why, for so long, we were content to live with whatever information the powerful and the rich pushed out, without challenging the same or demanding more; and it might explain why we tend toward religious conservatism but, within our closest friends, tend toward moral liberalism.
Do not be mistaken, what is true of our culture as a whole need not be true of any individual or set of individuals within it. Put another way, any number of us might deviate from what might be described as the norms for us as a culture, but the general observation of our collective behavior might well be observed. To the extent that this is so, it could offer leaders of organizations in the nation, public and private, insights that might help them to improve outcomes in ways unheard of. This much is true, the haddock approach often now taken to addressing organizational and national issues seems woefully inadequate, and might be better informed by good research and study. Perhaps in this new era of national governance, this is what we might get.

o Zhivargo Laing is a Bahamian economic consultant and former Cabinet minister who represented the Marco City constituency in the House of Assembly.

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Britain, Brexit and an uncertain future

June 20, 2017

A little over a week ago, the British people went to the polls. Although the snap general election was supposed to strengthen the government's negotiating hand in leaving the European Union, the outcome had the opposite effect, casting uncertainty over the nature of Brexit, and with it the country's future political and economic stability.
It was an election that in its outcome signalled that Britain had become two nations; one committed, as it were, to 'make Britain great again' and restoring an imagined past, and another, led by the young, the better educated, those living in liberal cosmopolitan cities and in Scotland, who saw a very different future, with new domestic and international priorities.
In seeking a much bigger parliamentary majority, Britain's prime minister, Theresa May, sought the vote of 'just about managing' voters, but provided few specifics during a remote, presidential style campaign that many political commentators described as having been the worst in the UK in decades.
In contrast, the country's Labour Party encouraged the young, often voting for the first time, those in the public sector, the marginalized, and those who wanted a softer form of Brexit, to vote for a more optimistic and less material view of society. They proposed greater social equity, a better funded social welfare system, and an end to huge student debt at a time of rapidly increasing rents and the unaffordability of housing.
While Labour caught the popular mood through social media and music, wrapped around an unlikely socialist leader, similar in many respects to the U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the Conservative Party remained brittle, often aloof, seeming to demonstrate little, if any, understanding of how to relate to young people.
In the end, Mrs May lost her gamble, ending up without a parliamentary majority in a hung parliament, with the prospect of significant internal divisions within her own party.
None of this is intended to be partisan, but to suggest that the region takes note, if it has not already, that Britain is changing profoundly, traditional ideological boundaries have become fluid, and the electorate has become volatile and unpredictable.
Strikingly, since the election, Prime Minister May has seemed unwilling to accept the message of a divided nation, appearing intent on proceeding to govern as planned with the support of a socially conservative party from Northern Ireland, with the likely consequence that divisions over Brexit, austerity and the Union will be exacerbated.
Two events in the coming weeks -- the opening of Brexit negotiations with the EU on June 19, and the delayed Queen's speech on June 21, which will set out the government's priorities -- will demonstrate how Mrs. May intends to proceed. They will indicate whether the moderating voices of Conservative elder statesmen and some Cabinet ministers, who want a more coherent and realistic strategy on Brexit, have been taken notice of.
If, as Mrs May and Downing Street suggest, it remains her intention to signal on June 19 that Britain will leave the EU and the single market and end free movement, there is a substantial body of opinion in political circles and the civil service that believes that when it comes to presenting the detailed bills to Parliament for Brexit implementation, she may find it hard to achieve a majority.
In response, and to preserve stability and avoid a rapid collapse in negotiations, a view is emerging that the government should now seek a cross-party consensus on alternative approaches to leaving the EU.
In this context, one suggestion that has gained traction since the election is that the UK might leave the EU but try to remain a member of its customs union, while negotiating new arrangements on free movement, and continuing to make a financial contribution.
Such an approach, its proponents argue, would have the effect of ensuring that the UK would have continuing frictionless trade access to the EU, retain jobs, keep in place existing trade agreements such as the EU-CARIFORUM EPA, while enabling the UK to accede to all future EU trade agreements. While it would not allow the UK to negotiate new third country trade in goods arrangements, Britain could, in theory, negotiate new services agreements. Whether this offers a long-term solution or might ever be acceptable to the EU is, however, far from clear.
All of this is happening as the EU27 is changing. The eurozone economy is recovering rapidly, and is now accelerating at a faster pace than in either the UK or the U.S.
France has a new young President, Emmanuel Macron, who is likely this weekend to upend French politics by having 'En Marche!', his one-year-old political party, take the majority of seats in France's National Assembly.
He has already demonstrated that he will exercise his authority in a style intended to restore France's self-confidence, optimism, and place in the world. He appears willing to act as a buttress against Donald Trump and to reshape the future of the EU27. With Germany's principled Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who is likely to be returned in Federal elections in November, he is expected to ensure that the EU, despite its many divisions, remains a continuing force in the world.
As for the UK, if it cannot rapidly create a viable economic construct based on a new national consensus on Brexit, the likelihood is that it will be economically diminished for a decade or more; becoming an estranged relative of the EU, increasingly at odds with the U.S. president over all but security co-operation, and in endless trade negotiations with others, including the Commonwealth, that expect such relationships to be reciprocal and mutually beneficial.
From a Caribbean perspective, this means that it will be increasingly difficult to forecast reliably what will happen in its relationship with Britain.
While the UK is not going to walk away from the region, Caribbean concerns, other than climate change and security, look set to become even less of a priority, as all parts of the British establishment become totally engrossed in Brexit, its implications and trying to stabilize the economy; knowing that at any moment another election might take place.
o David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org. Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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Defending democracy with diplomacy in Venezuela

June 20, 2017

The Bahamas and the United States share a deep democratic tradition. With the most recent election in The Bahamas, I witnessed first-hand the power of that democracy and the dedication of the Bahamian people to that tradition. With nearly 90 percent voter turnout, there is no doubt Bahamians enjoy their democratic freedoms.
After a hard fought campaign, there was a gracious and peaceful transfer of power. Unfortunately, the situation Venezuelans face today is the polar opposite. The Maduro government relentlessly and intentionally undermines the other constitutional branches of government from the inside. Since opposition parties won a majority of seats in 2015, Venezuela's National Assembly has been systematically smothered by the Maduro government.
Democratic nations have the responsibility to collectively defend democracy in Venezuela. In 2001, the OAS adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Not only did we affirm the right of every citizen across the hemisphere to democracy, we obligated our governments to defend that right.
When a government breaks with democracy, we must join in solidarity with its people. Not through intervention or interference, but with diplomacy and mediation among all parties to help find a peaceful, democratic and comprehensive solution.
June 16-20, at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, democratic nations have the opportunity to discuss the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela. Historically, the OAS has responded effectively to military coups, which usurped democratically elected governments. Today, we are witness to something insidious in Caracas. Citing vague, unproven claims of electoral fraud, allegedly committed by three legislators, the government has denied the legislative branch the right to pass laws and the captive judiciary has declared Venezuela's Congress "in contempt", stripping it of all legislative authority.
Faced with a crumbling economy and massive popular dissatisfaction, the Maduro regime is now destroying the last vestiges of the democratic order. The government has called for a constituent assembly to abandon the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution spearheaded by Hugo Chavez. My government certainly had strong disagreements with the late President Chavez, but Maduro is trying to instantly wipe away the current National Assembly, the attorney general and other existing institutions. This would trample on popular suffrage and rob the people of their clearly expressed democratic wishes from 2015.
Both of our countries can appreciate our strong, respected and apolitical militaries. Yet Maduro constantly undermines Venezuela's military, increasing his reliance on them to control the economy, intimidate opponents and suppress popular discontent. More than 331 Venezuelan civilians are being held and prosecuted by military courts in secret trials. Venezuela's own attorney general, appointed by Chavez in 2007, has condemned the trials and the military has refused her access to the prisoners.
The Bahamas and the United States have a long history of collaboration against the trafficking of drugs, arms and humans, but Maduro threatens to undermine our hard work. The spillover effects from Venezuela's crisis are serious and growing, whether it is irregular migrant flows to countries in our region, or the increasing flows of arms and criminal activity that affect the Caribbean in particular. All our countries have a direct stake in finding a negotiated solution that restores the rule of law and economic prosperity to our troubled neighbor.
I call on the citizens of The Bahamas to ask themselves: If this were happening here, what would you want your democratic friends and neighbors to do? I know from my three years of listening and watching political debates on radio and newspapers and peaceful protests in your streets, you would expect, even demand, that our American family of nations speaks out and reaches out, to help restore fundamental democratic freedoms.
The General Assembly of the Organization of American States is the venue for us to unify as a region and act to foster negotiations in Caracas to return to a respect for democracy, end the polarizing violence and help the Venezuelan people reclaim their democratic rights and their power.

o Lisa Johnson is charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau.

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Why the FNM won the 2017 general election, pt. 3

June 18, 2017

"One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician's objective. Election and power are." - Cal Thomas
The historic 2017 general election witnessed the unprecedented trouncing of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) by the Free National Movement (FNM) and will be studied for many years to come.
In part one of this series, we noted that many voters had completely lost faith in the Christie administration, including some ministers who did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, without any kind of sanction whatsoever from their leader.
Last week, we examined how BAMSI, the interference of a minister in the judicial process, the ill-conceived Chinese fishing proposal, and the Rubis oil spill debacle contributed to the PLP's defeat.
This week, we would like to continue to Consider this... Why did the FNM win the general election of 2017?

Disclosure of private emails
In March 2017, former Minister Jerome Fitzgerald read and tabled an email thread in the House of Assembly, as he sought to paint an environmental advocacy group, Save The Bays, as a "political organization" bent on entrapping fashion mogul Peter Nygard and destabilizing the Christie administration.
Many persons were greatly offended that a Cabinet minister would publicly read and table the emails of private citizens in Parliament.
In a strongly worded statement, Sharmie Farrington-Austin, the data commissioner at the time, cautioned public officials against tabling private documents in Parliament, and that the tabling of private correspondence in the House of Assembly is a "dangerous trend and opens the society up to chaos".
She also said: "It is my considered view that members of Parliament ought to be cognizant of the fact that members of the public expect that their members of Parliament will be held to the same standard as ordinary citizens in relation to the commission of a criminal offense.
"Citizens have a right to expect that their private communications would enjoy the protection afforded them under the laws of the country."
Save The Bays sued the minister and the government for publicly releasing the private emails, and the minister was ordered to pay damages of $150,000. Before the elections, the matter remained on appeal.
Many Bahamians were appalled by the public exposure of private emails by a Cabinet minister who enjoyed an exceedingly high level of parliamentary privilege. However, parliamentary privilege requires a very high standard of parliamentary responsibility. There was a general view that the minister's conduct in this matter crossed the line of public decency and considerably contributed to the narrative that the Christie administration would do anything to score political points.

VAT
On January 1, 2016, the government introduced the value-added tax (VAT), which many persons were convinced was justified, given recurrent annual fiscal deficits and a rapidly rising national debt. The government initially indicated that VAT would significantly contribute to a reduction in annual fiscal deficits and would ultimately foster the reduction of the national debt.
Like most persons, Bahamians do not readily welcome new taxes, although there was overwhelming public acceptance that the government needed to increase public finances, particularly for the stated purposes for which VAT was introduced.
The rollout of VAT was generally commendable and the VAT revenue impressively augmented the national coffers by $1.1 billion. Notwithstanding that success, the annual deficits continued to rise, as did the national debt. Therefore, the public repeatedly demanded that government explain where the VAT money went. Several months before the general election, the government attempted to explain how the income from VAT was spent, although by that time people had lost confidence and trust in anything emanating from the government.
The government's lack of transparency regarding how this new tax was being managed greatly contributed to the narrative that the government was squandering this windfall revenue, at best. At worst, the public perceived that the government was grossly negligent in its transparency and accountability for this new tax that raised more than $1 billion.
The government's explanations were not credible and its management of this matter greatly debased the public's trust in the Christie administration.

National Health Insurance
Early in the Christie administration, the government announced that it was determined to implement a National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme for all Bahamians. This was a noble objective, but was virtually stillborn, because it was neither particularly well thought out nor clearly articulated.
The government spent millions of dollars on foreign private consultants and got very little to show for its investment. Prior to the general election, a comprehensive plan had not been unveiled, the persons who were supposedly the greatest beneficiaries of the scheme were none the wiser about its specifics, and the major stakeholders, namely the medical profession and insurance industry, who were critical to the scheme's success, were equally uncertain about the details, practicability and cost of NHI.
As we approached the general election, the government made several abortive attempts to resuscitate this failed scheme.
Bahamians grew increasingly suspicious of the government's intention regarding NHI. The government seemed more concerned about its legacy than in introducing a well-considered, generally accepted and reasonably priced NHI plan.
The government's failed NHI plan further contributed to the erosion of trust by a people who increasingly looked askance at their government's desperate, last-minute endeavors and maneuvers.

The Baha Mar debacle
The Baha Mar resort on the island of New Providence was originally owned by Baha Mar Resorts Ltd. and managed by CEO Sarkis Izmirlian. The initial resort included four hotels with 2,200 rooms, 284 private residences, a 100,000-square-foot casino, a 30,000-square-foot spa and a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.
The resort was initially scheduled to open in December 2014, then delayed to April 2015. Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which permitted reorganization rather than winding-up, was filed on June 29, 2015 in a Delaware court, but dismissed that September.
A Bahamian judge appointed provisional liquidators to be in charge. The resort blamed its misfortunes on delays in construction without any source of income to resolve the problem. The financiers and primary contractor blamed the delays on mismanagement by the developer.
Many Bahamians blame the government for interfering in a dispute between two private entities: Sarkis Izmirlian and the China Export-Import Bank, the project's funder. Some persons believe that, if the government had not intervened, the resort would have opened a long time ago. Perhaps, but we will never really know.
That the courts sealed the details of the transaction that ultimately took Baha Mar out of liquidation and found new owners has angered very many Bahamians. Bahamians concluded that the government, in its haste to open Baha Mar with the inherent jobs bonanza that would have resulted therefrom before the May election, possibly gave away too much to achieve a political purpose.
If the government was not concerned about the public's reaction to the concessions that it granted to the new purchasers, it was argued, why not encourage the stakeholders to remove the court's seal on the transaction?
Once again, the government's lack of transparency, shrouded in its propensity for deep-seated secrecy regarding the "new deal", further eroded the public trust in a government that had long ago lost its way.

Conclusion
In the final installment of this series, we will examine how the PLP's pre-election convention, the arrogant sense of entitlement, and charges of corruption and conflicts of interest contributed to the FNM's overwhelming victory that has sent the PLP into a profound tailspin, one from which recovery may take a very long time.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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Gossip is a useless pastime

June 16, 2017

As today's title simply puts it, gossip is a useless pastime. Yes indeed it is. In The Bahamas where I presently reside, gossip, or "sip sip" as the locals put it, is very prevalent indeed. I contend that people who gossip have two flaws in their character. Number one -- they must have very little to do in life, thus they have to resort to constantly speaking in derogatory terms about others; and number two -- they have low self-esteem. That's right, if you have to spend all of your time talking about others and what they supposedly did wrong, believe me, your life must be completely fruitless.
Yes indeed, people with low self-esteem who have not got any accomplishments of their own to talk to others about usually spend most of the day talking maliciously and maligning others, and as today's title so aptly puts it, gossip is a useless pastime. Yes it most certainly is! And yet so many continually participate in it.
These people just crave finding out something really juicy, as they say, which really means most disgusting about someone, especially someone whom they don't like, and then spending their evenings on the phone spreading this malicious gossip to one and all. What a real tragedy it is to observe someone who is engaged in this kind of extremely petty pastime. You feel like saying to them, get a life.
Yes my friend, if you've got nothing else to do but spread useless gossip about others on a regular basis, I strongly suggest that you seek out immediate professional assistance from a qualified counselor or life coach so that you can raise your level of self-esteem and thus start to achieve great things in life. This will give you something really positive and worthwhile to share with others.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Educating leaders to care

June 16, 2017

In many organizations, the claim is that leaders show little concern to care about those they manage. The same happens in politics, where in many Caribbean countries people feel that after an election they are jettisoned, and the personal interest of political leaders takes precedence. In some companies the training employees were promised is put on hold and their request for resources to enable them to work more efficiently is ignored. They therefore feel the company is uncaring, and this results in staff absenteeism, even resignation of some.
In politics people see uncaring leaders as promising, but not delivering, dividing the country's resources among themselves and having a sense of social superiority after being elected. Uncaring leaders are perceived as interested only in themselves, using the country to benefit themselves and their associates. The politics of care is therefore lacking.
This idea of educating political leaders to care is dealt with by Canute Thompson, of the UWI, Mona, in a piece in the Jamaica Observer about politicians lacking in care while acting in their own self-interest, and he suggests measures to educate these leaders to enable the creation of a culture whereby they could properly represent the people by focusing on their interests.
One of the measures he recommends, among others, includes training in political education, which involves knowledge of local legislation, his country's relationships with others, and international agreements and protocols. I think these topics make sense in terms of the practical areas leaders deal with. Learning about legislation and its purpose shows political leaders how social initiatives have to have parliamentary legitimacy, and that it is about advancing the welfare of the body politic. This makes leaders aware that legislation affects people's lives and fosters an ethic of care. They will then become more committed to their constituents.
But training in local legislation, as mentioned by Thompson, is not sufficient, unless its impact as a tool of development for constituents is mentioned. It is the impact of governance that creates awareness of its relevance and garners clientele support, since they then realize how political leaders care, and so refrain from labelling them as self-seekers.
Educating leaders in inter-country relations, along with international agreements and protocols, has to stress the caring elements of respect for other people, admiration for their achievements, and demonstrate how protocols encourage ethical behaviour and rule-following. From this context comes positive representation of people and the cultivation of a caring attitude towards them and others.
Another educational measure Thompson mentions is corruption prevention training and the consequences for any violations. Here he includes conflicts of interest, accountability and recall measures. But here, as before, Thompson does not explain these terms. And he does not indicate how, by operationalizing them, politicians become more caring, giving priority to their constituents' interests.
He needs to clarify how politicians become educated by the measures he mentions, which would transform their behavior. The same problem presents itself when he mentions ethical training for politicians, with oversight, to prevent the use of public office to engage in unseemly behaviors.
For me, ethics training sensitizes individuals to proper public conduct. Here, the consequences of certain choices could be stressed and their implications noted. This has the effect of rubbing in the importance of ethical conduct for the present and future prospects of politicians. Inherent in ethical training is an ethic of care, which can orient politicians to become more compassionate to those responsible for their being where they are.
Thompson further mentions public policy training, strategic planning, and leadership as educational measures to enable politicians to become more caring and jettison self-interest in the interest of the public. Like his other suggestions, I think this is fine, but again he fails to give details of what is entailed in each of the areas he gives, and how they contribute to educating political leaders.
I see public policy as consisting of measures to make things really happen for citizens, hence the idea of public. Built into it is the welfare of everyone with no space for personal benefit. The citizenry will see the practical manifestations of government for all and lend their support to making the policies work. This is practical caring, with selflessness as a prime ingredient. It means public policy will be seen to guarantee the socio-economic needs of the populace.
And he connects to the above, strategic planning and leadership, but again neglects to mention the ways these concepts promote caring and discourage self-interest in politics.
My idea is that exposing leaders, both political and in other sectors, to the concepts mentioned will cause them to select and organize projects relevant to the needs of citizens, ensuring fairness in their application. And the implementation of programs will be monitored to ensure needs are met appropriately. Here, leadership becomes important in directing and deciding priorities, and in projecting future requirements.
Exposure to these ideas enables leaders to be more empathetic to the demands of clients, enriches their capacity to care, and fosters an unselfish philosophy.
The writer then suggests that the performance assessment of representatives, based on benchmarks and having a mechanism for their recall, is another measure that could counteract the care deficit and self-interest of politicians. But Thompson does not give examples of the benchmarks, or say what level of corruption or ethical violation would warrant a recall. Nor does he say what constitutes success of the training program.
Of course, performance assessment gives some indication of the quality of work done, and a system of recall for behaviors that tarnish the public's image is acceptable. But what would constitute concrete evidence for action here?
I think Thompson has written a good piece, but could have included some of the observations I made. His article could serve as a guide to political leaders and those in other types of organizations as to how to foster an ethic of care and selflessness in organizations.

o Oliver Mills is a former lecturer in education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an M.Ed degree. from Dalhousie University in Canada, an MA from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in HRM and Training, University of Leicester. He is a past Permanent Secretary in Education with the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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Fatherhood is much more than biology

June 15, 2017

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
- Ephesians 6:4

I am amazed at the many men who die and their obituary indicates that they left to mourn numerous children. For the most part these children are out of wedlock. It is true that after the creation, "...God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'" -- Gen. 1:28a. God said this to a man and a woman, husband and wife. In becoming fruitful and multiplying, they were to jointly create a family.
From my personal experience of raising three children as a single parent, following the death of their mother, my wife, I have concluded that God intended that children be raised under the supervision of two parents. Single parenting is difficult for both the child and the parent.
Fatherhood is a serious responsibility. Children should never be deprived of the love and care of their father. Men who indiscriminately father children, with multiple partners, are abdicating their parental responsibility. Their action is irresponsible.
As human beings, we have a mind to reason. This puts us above the animals. We are to subdue the earth, having "dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth". (Gen. 1:28b). Therefore, we should not act as animals. We are above animalistic behavior.
Throughout biblical history, the father is portrayed as the most dominant person in the family. His role is to take care of the family and to ensure that his home is God centered.
It is unfortunate that, in many instances, men have abdicated their responsibility in the family. Notwithstanding this, it is still God's intention that fathers lead the way.
I am convinced that much of the deviance that we face in our communities from young people can be attributed to the absence of fathers in homes. This is troubling.
Even though there are many homes with fathers, there are instances where fathers neglect to spend quality time with their children. Children desire to spend quality time with their father.
It is more precious than material things. When the father is gone from this life, the greatest legacy that he can leave his children is the time he spent with them. It is more precious than money, real estate or stocks and bonds.
The father's personal interaction with his children will be most appreciated. It is something no one can take away from them.
Patrick Morley in his book "The Man In The Mirror" writes, "The duty and role of fathers includes protecting our children from evil as well as teaching them righteousness. Our children are entitled to more from us than a laissez-faire approach to parenting. A man must take hold of the reigns of spiritual leadership in his home. Children need to be guided into the value system we want for them."
He continues, "We need to influence our children as much as possible as early as possible, because once they become teenagers their friends [peers] exert more influence on them than any other single factor." (Pg.1,212].
I say, "Quality time with our children begins at age zero."
This coming Sunday we celebrate Father's Day. Moving forward, I beseech our men to remember that fatherhood is much more than biology. It has more to do with nurturing our children. Scripture tells us in the above text, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
In order for fathers to adhere to the above text, they have to live in the same house with their children. I say they have to all eat out of the same pot. Happy Father's Day! Amen.

o Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone 323-4107; E-mail: lutheranchurch@coralwave.com.

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Work gives worth

June 15, 2017

I've actually heard people say, "If only I had nothing to do all day long, I'd be happy as can be." To which I reply, "That's what you think." Believe me, I've had to go through long periods of doing absolutely nothing and it's extremely boring and debilitating, to put it mildly. In fact, doing absolutely nothing all day long is extremely debilitating -- yes it is.
You see, I strongly believe that we were all born with an inner drive and desire to be achievers. When we have a very busy day and at the end of it have a warm feeling inside that we indeed achieved something really worthwhile, we feel somehow validated, and as the title of today's article puts it, work gives worth. In other words, when we have completed a long day's work we get an inner feeling of accomplishment.
Believe me, when I write these articles upon awakening in the morning in the silence, I do indeed get a feeling of accomplishment -- even joy when I finally get to the end of a segment. Then, of course, when I go to the studio every two weeks and record a two-week supply of my radio programs to send to radio stations who air the series around the world, believe me, I do get a tremendous feeling within of accomplishment, as I think about all of the millions of people who will be listening to my words and hopefully be inspired by them to do great things in life.
Yes indeed, there's no doubt about it whatsoever, as today's short title puts it, work gives worth, that's why being unemployed for long periods of time can be so debilitating for so many who feel utterly useless.
So my friend, in conclusion, if you held some childish notion of retiring at an early age and then doing absolutely nothing, you better think again, for as Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of the bestselling book on self-image psychology -- "Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Technique for Using your Subconscious Power" whom I had the distinct pleasure of working with for a period time put it, "You can't retire from life." No you can't!

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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A Kingdom without physical location

June 15, 2017

Who are the believers and followers of Christ and what is their identity, status and role on the earth? This is a very complicated question and it is hard for one who is outside of the Kingdom to understand, but this issue is critical in determining how we live in the world and interact with the people and systems of the world.
Let's begin by looking at Jesus. Most of us live in countries that have what is called a Judeo Christian background and we take several things for granted. We take for granted that Jesus Christ is central to our belief system. We take it for granted that He is who He said He is. And we take it for granted that He is God and has given us guidelines for living. If you have ever gone to church it means that in some way you believe something fundamental about the authenticity of Jesus Christ or you are curious about Him.
In order for us to take an objective look at Jesus we need to begin by examining what He said about himself. If we adhere to the notion that He is who He said He is and we are His followers, then we must examine His statements, not what others said about Him. So what did He say about himself?
First of all He stated very clearly that He is a king. The Bible refers to Him in the Book of Revelation 19:16 as the King of kings. So the beginning of the conversation about Jesus is about a king and not just about a king -- about the ultimate and supreme king over all kings. This cannot be denied because it is a central theme in the Bible and in His own words.
If we look at His normal conversations with His disciples and others, He constantly spoke about a kingdom. We all recall when the disciples asked Him how to pray and He replied, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Many of us have grown up reciting the Our Father Prayer and have not paid attention to the fact that Jesus spoke about a Kingdom constantly. In another instance Jesus admonished the disciples to, "seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you". Matt: 6-33. Here again Jesus specifically refers to this Kingdom.
In another instance a young man came to Jesus wanting to know the keys to life and how to get into this Kingdom that Jesus spoke about, and Jesus went on to explain to him something that makes no logical sense in the everyday human experience. He told this young man, "Except a man be born again he cannot enter into the Kingdom." (John 3:3)
So here again Jesus spoke about and focused on the central theme of His life and message, which was and is, the existence of and the centrality of this Kingdom as the ultimate source of life.
Let us agree then that Jesus' central theme was the establishment of the Kingdom. Beyond this basic theme, Jesus began to make startling claims about this Kingdom. He stated that this Kingdom was superior to any earthly kingdom and that this Kingdom would bring about abundant life. He also stated that this Kingdom would produce revolutionary change and benefit to anyone who became a part of it. The word kingdom was so important to Jesus that it is found over 100 times in the four gospels and 162 times in the New Testament.
What might be considered weird to the average resident of earth is that Jesus spoke so fervently about this Kingdom, but yet He was not referring to geographical location or territory. Even His disciples did not initially grasp this concept because they were expecting Him to overthrow the Roman authorities and establish a physical kingdom. Others in the region also began to question him about this Kingdom he referred to -- to the extent that he issued a strong and emphatic clarification. He explained that this Kingdom was not based upon a physical, earthly or geographic location. He explained to them that, "the Kingdom of God is within you". In this scripture you will note His answer, which probably further confused some of the questioners.
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you."
After all the suspense about this wonderful Kingdom, Jesus explains to all that you cannot go to a geographical location to find it. He stated that to enter it you must be born again. These were, I am sure, very strange statements. He was either God or a lunatic. On earth up until the time He made these statements, the only kingdoms known were physical places where one could see a physical throne and a resident king. Jesus introduced a new concept into the world, something that we casually refer to, but something that is indeed a startling departure from what we would consider normal. Welcome to the discussion, the examination of the Kingdom of God, a unique and revolutionary Kingdom that has changed the world and the way we look at life.

o Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.

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The power of love

June 15, 2017

The month of June is a very special month in my family. This is the month my late parents got married. Hence, my sister, Ann Albury, was reminiscing about the kind of love our parents shared and was inspired to write about it with me. The following are her thoughts.
Alfred and Mary, my parents, like all couples, had their valleys and their mountaintop experiences. The natural tug and pull of the rapidly moving world around them, advancing careers, four active, growing children, demands of church leadership roles and sometimes limited finances, created all the tensions we witness from day-to-day within families. Yet something held them together like white on rice, for where Mary was always there, so was Alfred.
What was the key factor that was the glue in their relationship? Love. Through their living, a lesson to learn is that there is power in love and commitment. It was not the love as idealized in the play "Romeo and Juliet" where the two lovers fatally died young together. Rather, it was the unconditional love of two persons courageously forging through the various stages of living. Together, they journeyed from the promise of young adulthood into the crisis of middle age, and slowly descended the sliding slope of old age. Then lastly, and with boldness, staring death eyeball to eyeball.
Alfred and Mary, having accumulated 66 years of experiences together, waded through a myriad of challenges and yet still found ... no -- always chose to love each other. Their love remained steadfast, though not finding perfection, but learning to see and love an imperfect person perfectly.
Then the things they did for each other were amazing! They were always complimenting each other, giving daily hugs and kisses, and celebrating the small things. There was even excitement about a favorite dish cooked or Mom's favorite chocolate bar pulled out of Daddy's coat pocket upon returning home, or sitting beside each other in the family room caressing each other. Their cooking together, the gentle rubs, and the manicures or pedicures, are just examples of a very long list of things they did together and for each other. These remind me of something they both reiterated, "It is the little things that mean the most!"
Their relationship values included a generous mixture of humor, laughter, gentleness, kindness and caring for each other's needs; also, their equal voice on issues by practicing consensus rather than compromise when necessary, and their strong belief of partnership in support of each other's life's purpose. How can I leave out their deep respect for one another?
As the sun began to set on their lives, we often acknowledged the depth of the bond between our parents and wondered what the inevitable ending would bring forth. When Mommy became ill and told us she was tired, had done her best, all she could in her lifetime, and was not willing to fight anymore, Daddy refused to accept her request.
He did everything he could to get her well again. He often said to us, "I am not ready to lose your mother!" Or to her, "Honey you can't leave me yet!" On a Saturday morning during the doctor's home visit she inquired what the family desired if Mom expired. In meeting to discuss the subject later that day, our father, with a broken heart and buckets of tears said, "If your mother go, prepare for two!"
Several days later, as the caregiver and I looked after Mom, I started humming the tune, "I'm Gonna Lay Down my Burden". Mom opened her eyes and started singing in a soft, weakened voice the words of the song. She said very little after that, and she left us with a clear message of her heart's desire. Mommy breathed her last breath, as Barry, her only son, ministered by her bedside on January 7, 2015.
Later, during the summer months I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my father about him grieving the loss of his dear "better half" as he would usually say, and listened keenly as he openly expressed his deep pain in losing his soul mate. Amidst tears he shared that he thought he would go right after Mommy, but he said, "It looks like I'm still holding."
On Dad's birthday, November 15, we had an especially long, jovial conversation. Dad and I always had hilarious chats that tickled my soul as we mocked the English accent, pretending to be King Alfred and Princess Ann in dialogue. Yet at the end, with soberness he said, "I do not want to be here when Christmas comes. My first birthday in 66 years without your mother is too hard, just too hard." I encouraged him and we laughed again, with no inclination that it would be my last talk with my father. Several days later, Daddy succumbed to a massive hemorrhagic stroke, with his children around his bedside. Within nine months we lost two of the most precious human beings to grace our lives, Mommy and Daddy.
I miss Mommy and Daddy so much. My heart is full of love, peace, joy and gratitude as I reflect on the years of their loving example set before me. Undoubtedly, the model they demonstrated influenced the 31 years of my relationship as I sought to emulate their model of love and commitment.
Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be, is mistaken for a myth. But it has profound truth for those who chose and nurture love in their lifetime. What a profound testimony to have seen the blossoming of two powerful creators coming together and enhancing the experiences of one another for so many years. The power of love is the most valuable lesson I learned by observing their lives, as they co-created a relationship of quality and substance. Oh, such love! As a young person growing up, I desired nothing less in a relationship. While married, I experienced nothing less in my relationship. At this juncture in my journey, once again, I would want to have nothing less. Daddy and Mommy enjoyed much laughter and cried many times together, yet without a doubt their happiness and fulfillment throughout their lifetime was the result of their love and commitment. It certainly is true -- the greatest of them all is love.

o Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.

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Extend your hands to lift the fallen

June 15, 2017

"I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
- 1 Kings 19:10

There are many persons known and unknown to many of you dear readers, who are depressed, rejected and neglected and on the whole are sunken deep in the valley of low self-esteem. This sad commentary does not only dwell among those who are tied by poverty's strong ties, as many are led to believe, but in homes stately and adorned with manicured lawns and bubbling water fountains; not to leave out designer name vehicles. Let's call it all "depression".
Depression is a life-threatening condition that is often muddled with troubling confusion. Many confuse mood and depression, and it is not uncommon to hear people say, "I am feeling depressed" or "you look depressed" when in fact one is merely sad or discouraged.
Those suffering from depression may feel sad, but they are just as likely to feel irritable or emotionally drained. It would be better to characterize depression as a state of overwhelming hopelessness, aggravated by feelings of worthlessness, self-pity and even guilt. Other common symptoms are a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, a general lack of energy and being overwhelmed by even simple tasks.
Those suffering from depression will often display behavioral changes that are out of character -- recurring bouts of anger, uncontrollable crying or social withdrawal. They may have trouble making simple decisions and exercise poor judgment. Serious or prolonged depression can seriously affect one's physical well-being and be accompanied by a longing for death or even suicidal thoughts.
In the 19th chapter of 1 Kings and verse 4 we read, "But Elijah himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, 'It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers'."
Are we being upfront and honest about depression in Christian circles? Can the godly suffer from depression, or is it only something that afflicts the weak in faith? There are many who when asked how they are feeling would say, "I'm blessed" or "I'm too blessed to be stressed out" when in fact, the body language and expressionless face says as Maury would say "That's a lie".
Elijah the prophet wanted to die. He asked God to take his life because he had come to the conclusion that he was a failure. Elijah had just been victorious in the showdown with the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. God had sent fire down from heaven to consume Elijah's sacrifice. In addition, the prophet had predicted a terrible famine, and the Lord had not sent rain for three years. After that time, Elijah prayed for rain, and God produced a torrential downpour. God was working mightily through His servant Elijah and this made him very unpopular with Ahab and Jezebel, the wicked king and queen of Israel.
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this." Because of this, Elijah was very afraid and he fled from Jezreel to Beersheba. He was terribly discouraged, for he had remained faithful in proclaiming God's message, yet the only result, as far as he could see, was a threat on his life, further making him to believe that he was the only faithful person left.
There are many of God's children who in times of grave difficulties and lack of encouragement mixed with ingratitude would join in with the words of an old saint in her hour of trouble, "I wish I was a rat so that the cat would eat me!"
When his burden seemed too great to carry, Moses also asked God to take his life. Likewise, Jonah preferred to die rather than watch the Ninevites repent and be spared by God. Jeremiah cursed the day of his birth. These were all great men of God, but even at their greatest, they were still mortal men.
Woe to the people who put leaders on pedestals and do not look down to see that their feet are made of clay. Every man at his best is still a man, and they will fail. History is filled with men and women who were complete failures as far as the public or professors were concerned, but turned out to become great inventors, musicians, scientists, war generals and world leaders.
Depression can have profound consequences. It can destroy families and the productivity of one's life. It is the leading contributor to drug and alcohol abuse and every aspect of life can be affected, including one's emotions, physical health, relationships and work. Indeed, the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few, and so those of the household of faith and workers in the vineyard of the Lord need to be proactive in preventing and dealing with depression.
No longer can we afford to turn a blind eye to situations that we can see developing and not reach out in the spirit of love and help. We must be willing to listen with compassion, rescue the perishing, care for the dying and, in some cases, use drastic measures to snatch them in pity from sin and the grave. No use gossiping, but weep over those who are erring and extend our hands to lift the fallen.
The apostle says it best -- "There go I, but for the grace of God."

o E-mail 241haystreet@gmail.com; Facebook Ruby Ann Darling or write to P.O. Box SS 19725 Nassau, Bahamas, with your prayer requests, concerns and comments. God's blessings!

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The FNM's mandate for change and bold reform

June 15, 2017

After the FNM's and Hubert Ingraham's historic defeat of the PLP and Sir Lynden Pindling in 1992, the deposed party and leader cockily bragged that the election was an anomaly; that the FNM could not govern the country; and that the PLP would return to office in five years.
From 1992 to 1997, the FNM exposed some of the PLP's corruption. The FNM steadily fulfilled many of the promises of its manifesto. The first Ingraham administration began revamping the economy and our tourism product.
It also initiated an extraordinary upgrade of the country's infrastructure, both in New Providence and in the Family Islands.
Ingraham and the FNM launched an era of reform and modernization, which included greater transparency and accountability after the dark years of the Pindling era.
Critically, the FNM did not engage in the widescale corruption and victimization that marked much of the Pindling era. Ingraham made changes such as ending the double-dipping of various public officers, a perennial issue. He insisted on tabling heads of agreements before Parliament.
The FNM famously advanced democracy by ending the state monopoly on the broadcast media. If the Minnis administration can make dramatic changes to ZNS, which will require a tremendous effort, it will have achieved something no government has yet achieved.
In the first Ingraham term, measures like improving the process of applying for and obtaining car and driver's licences made a difference in the quality of life of Bahamians and residents.
Voters saw a government in action trying to improve their daily lives. Voters also believed that public funds were being used for their benefit not the benefit of political cronies. Beginning in 1992, the FNM dramatically increased the number of Bahamians receiving Crown Land.
By 1997, the FNM reduced the PLP to a few seats. It won the then highest popular vote since internal rule.
Despite recent history, it is not preordained that the FNM will enjoy only five years in office this term. If the FNM governs much in the same way that it did from 1992 to 1997, voters will be disposed to re-elect the party in 2022.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and the FNM have been given an extraordinary mandate for change and bold reform. Bahamians do not want business as usual in government. But dramatic change means moving quickly and laying the groundwork as soon as possible.

Groundwork
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie took forever to make decisions and to get the ball rolling on a matter. By the end of both of his terms he accomplished little because he was slow in laying the groundwork for innovation and change.
To maintain public goodwill, the FNM must refrain from arrogance and be seen to be working hard in the interest of Bahamians. Even if the government makes mistakes, it can be rewarded with public support if voters believe that it is acting in good faith.
The new government's most critical job must be a broad strategy for economic growth and job-creation. Further, voters want to see where and how public funds, including VAT revenue, are being spent.
Small businesses and budding entrepreneurs desperately want a government that will introduce effective measures to help with the ease of doing business. Many eagerly await Minnis' youth entrepreneurship program.
Bahamians grew increasingly sickened that they had to grease the palms of certain individuals to have proposals considered, applications reviewed or work permits renewed. Bahamians want a level playing field.
Were the FNM to advance measures like bringing relief to residents of New Providence in terms of a reliable electricity supply, and address the problems at the landfill, the party will continue to enjoy widespread support.
The alternatively smug and hope beyond hope view by defeated PLPs that the party can naturally return to office in five years betrays the classic sense of entitlement and arrogance of the PLP, which believes that it is the natural party of government.
Many in the PLP view the FNM as political interlopers, whom the country must tolerate in government from time to time.
This mindset has been on display in the petulance and rants of Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis and Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin, both of whom have shown scant to no humility after the PLP's crushing defeat.
Many FNMs in Davis' constituency lamented the inability of FNMs to get government contracts in the past five years. They spoke of their victimization by Davis supporters on Cat Island and San Salvador.
Yet Davis is warning about victimization by the new FNM government. It is like the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland fame who keeps appearing and disappearing, with a wide and toothy grin, warning others about mischievous and malevolent cats.
What the clever parser of words, Davis, means when he warns of "victimization" is that the FNM should give a pass to and not investigate alleged wrongdoing by any PLPs.

Convoluted
But if the PLP were in office and investigated others, they would supposedly be doing their duty. This is not hypocrisy in the minds of many PLPs. In their convoluted mindset, there are different standards for PLPs and FNMs. After all, God bequeathed The Bahamas to the PLP.
For the last five years the PLP victimized the Bahamian people through all manner of waste, fraud and corruption. Huge sums of VAT money seemed unaccounted for. But the FNM is supposed to ignore all of this. The FNM will do so at its peril.
The FNM has a mandate to investigate and audit public finances, including any improper behavior by former Cabinet ministers and public officers who may have aided and abetted or attempted to cover-up financial malfeasance.
There should be sweeping and widespread investigations, including of public corporations such as Bahamasair and the Bank of The Bahamas. The public wants corruption by officials to be exposed and the law to take its course.
Hanna-Martin noted in the House that there were some things on her side that she did not like in the past five years. As she is now styling herself as the avenger of truth and justice, perhaps she would like to note what she had concerns about on her side, concerns she conveniently did not share while in office.
The FNM should ignore the self-serving noise in Parliament from PLPs who do not want their record exposed and are instead deploying a strategy of constant attack.
The FNM must be on the offensive in Parliament, holding responsible those in Parliament and others who brought the country to its knees over the past five years. The party should not be on the defensive in the least.
But even as it holds the PLP accountable for its misdeeds and corruption, the FNM must demonstrate a strategy for governance and getting things done on behalf of voters who desperately want change and a new era of reform and modernization.
While some change comes with time, one must lay the groundwork for change. At other times changes should be bold and dramatic. The FNM has a mandate for both. It should not be distracted by the self-serving and petulant noise of PLPs, many of whom still don't understand why they were decimated at the polls.

o frontporchguardian@gmail.com, www.bahamapundit.com.

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When do you want to begin

June 14, 2017

I was talking to a young man a little while back who was inclined to consume large quantities of alcohol just about every evening after work; and then at the weekends he'd really go to work by getting absolutely wasted, as that well known saying so graphically puts it. I did my best to talk some sense to him about quitting his destructive habit of consuming far too much alcohol night after night.
Incidentally, I'm well qualified to speak on this subject of overindulgence in the area of alcoholic beverages, as I myself used to do exactly the same; that is of course until I finally got sense and quit my destructive habit in my mid-forties. Thank God I did, for if I had not, I would probably not be alive today.
After my talk with the individual who was drinking far too much alcohol, day after day, he said very casually, "I guess I'll stop someday" ...."Oh yes .... I simply don't believe you," I replied. I then added "When do you want to begin?" He looked quite startled and added "You mean you want me to stop now?" ...."Yes Now ....Right Now" I replied.
You see the world is full of people who are always going to do something tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. This is a joke as they don't really mean it they're procrastinating and as Young put it "Procrastination is the thief of time."....yes it is. The world is full of procrastinators who talk a whole lot about what they intend to do in the future but who somehow don't get anything accomplished in the end.
My Friend, if something is worth doing, it's worth doing NOW. Yes indeed, you need to cut out the procrastination, stop putting things off and adopt the philosophy which is summed up in the following short phrase 'Do It Now'. Yes My Friend, as the question posed in today's title puts it 'When Do You Want To Begin?' I do hope it's TODAY as you set out to be a winner in life.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to 'Time to Think' the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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