by TAIGE ADDERLEY
I mean we tried….
We thought it was about the time where we could finally break free of the ranks of countries that don’t allow women full citizenship rights. We were ready to leave behind bastions of common sense and equality like Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Malaysia, and Nepal, and join the 20th century (because most countries decided they didn’t hate women awhile back). However, after the resounding failure of yesterday’s referendum, being a modern country isn’t in the cards for us.
We really tried, but our latest shot at becoming a modern democracy that does right by all of its citizens has passed us by. So we’ll be stuck here in the dark ages burning witches and treating cancer patients with leaches for a little while longer now. But what happened? How did we get here? I’ll try to sum it up as best as I can:
We are a country of stupid people.
Modern, economically prosperous countries tend to have this in common: They all have smart people living in them. They take pride in educating themselves and their children. No, this doesn’t mean teaching them the answers so they can regurgitate them in some paint-by-numbers standardised test (like the ones we cling profusely to despite the fact that our kids perform horribly in them), this means that you actually disseminating knowledge to students in ways that that they can practically apply it.
To have a country of smart people we have to teach students critical thinking skills, IE. being able to decipher what’s being presented to them, and being able to make decisions for themselves based on having an accurate interpretation of their surroundings. The majority of Bahamians don’t seem to be able to do that. In fact I’m reminded of each of the 1034 times I heard someone manage to degenrate a discussion on gender equality into a rant about “deese sissies”.
We’re TOO FUCKING religious…. but only when it suits us.
I don’t have any problem people with believing in God, Allah, Buddha, Shiva or The Flying Spaghetti monster.
You should have every right to worship whatever you think will get you into your ideal afterlife. The problem begins when you try to force the entire world to be a reflection of your personal beliefs.
Religion, more than anything, is supposed to be a personal guide to living life without being an asshole, because, as history has taught us over and over again, people tend to be tremendous dicks to each other. This is why, alongside entrenched norms from whatever place and time that religion is founded, most religions seem to have to be the same basic tenets; you know, don’t be an asshat, don’t murder anyone, be nice to your mom. Stuff most sane people can agree that you should or shouldn’t do.
Where we screw up as a people is that we tend to juxtapose religion against our own human nature, in the process discounting the “don’t be an asshole” part of religion (because like I said, humans are dicks) while clinging to the “societal norms” part of it.
In doing this we effectively weaponize our religion against people who don’t fit into our societal norms, even when they aren’t necessarily harming anybody. When this happens we completely neglect our duty as humans, regardless of our religion, to take care of our fellow humans. We cherry pick religion based on our prejudices as justification for being terrible to people who we don’t like for whatever reason.
The end result of cherry picking religion based on our biases is that we have a country where women are denied basic citizenship rights on the outside chance that one day, gay people might possibly get married to each other.
The people who raise issue with people operating outside of societal norms because it offends their religion never actually discuss the issues that are actually harming people because they’re too busy attacking people society deems deviant. People’s biases are confirmed, preachers get paid, it’s a great racket for everybody…. except for the weirdos who live on the margins, but we don’t care about them, because God.
We don’t know jack shit about our history.
In the lead up to yesterday’s referendum on gender equality, I heard a lot of people wax poetic about how awful foreigners and women are. Every time I would hear someone spew this unfounded and asinine rhetoric it would make my blood boil. What they don’t understand is:
1: Our entire country was built by foreigners.
Nobody who lives here is descended from anyone who actually came from here. Our country is a melting pot of people from America, Africa, Haiti, Cuba, The Lesser Antillies, England, China, Greece and a number of other places all around the world. They came here and sacrificed a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to build our country, becoming Bahamians in the process.
Our heritage isn’t turning away foreigners willing to contribute to our society, it’s welcoming people and taking advantage of what they bring to the table to make us better. My great grandfather, for example, was a man from Barbados who came here, married someone and contributed to The Bahamas so hard they named a school after him.
2: We wouldn’t have a country to call our own if not for the tireless efforts of women.
The Bahamas was only able to have majority rule because women mobilized and fought for the right to vote. Before this happened, the Bahamas was a place devoid of educational and economic opportunities for black people. Forget about having any say in the political process, because if you can’t go on a beach or get a job you know damn well you weren’t allowed to have a political voice.
There was nothing here for black people. You farmed, fished or and if you were a carpenter or a small time merchant people would look at you like like how they would goddamn heart surgeon today. If you were black in The Bahamas you pretty much shut the fuck up and learned to be happy that you didn’t get lynched like you would if you were in Mississippi. It was like this for the most part in the century between the end of slavery and the start of majority rule. And it’s end was brought about entirely due of the tenacity of a few brave women with incredible foresight.
Denying women an equal stake in our society is effectively spitting in those women’s faces. We went back on everything they fought for and if they were alive they would hate what we’ve become.
We have to do better.
To become a better country we have to act like one. Not only do we have to learn more about the world around us, we have to embrace knowledge and independent thinking, and pass it on to future generations. Even if we observe religion we shouldn’t try to legislate it into other people’s everyday lives. But most importantly: we have to treat people better.
Through the entire process of this referendum I’ve heard Bahamians talk about foreigners, women, and LGBT people like they were evil creatures from a fantasy story and not humans that we live with. Until we start treating humans like, well humans, none of our societal problems can begin to get solved. So let’s get out of our bubbles and listen to people who have different backgrounds from us. We may find that they may have more in common with us than they think.
And even if they don’t, who gives a shit? People different from you pay taxes the same taxes as you.They deserve all the legal protections you have.