Before I post this, let me say two things. First, I have been informed by a reliable source (one of the editors) that the Tribune was not responsible for writing the article whose headline I slammed; it was an AP story that they re-ran as the lead.
And second, I am trusting that by reposting this I will find someone who will tell me that this is not what my Prime Minister actually said (the emphases are mine).
Ingraham added: “It is not appropriate for us to be collecting goods to send to Haiti because there is no means by which we can get [them] there. The port is in terrible shape. The airport is difficult to navigate. The ground transportation is terrible. The extent to which we in the region can provide assistance in terms of medical support, doctors, nurses, public health, pay for medicine, food, water, whatever it is, we are clearly prepared to do so.”
via The Nassau Guardian Online
Here’s my problem. If this is what he said, the message that our Prime Minister is sending is that it is all right to allow practical impediments get in the way of help. It is OK to let the fact that it’s difficult (not impossible, as Miami has demonstrated by getting Channel 10 news crews in and survivors out, or as Jamaica has demonstrated by flying its PM and the leader of the Opposition in) to get planes and boats into Haiti stop us from giving whatever we can. It’s OK for us, the wealthiest and most fortunate independent nation in our region, to keep our wealth and fortune to ourselves in this time of great need because it’s hard to do something different.
I cannot think of a worse message to be sending to a group of people already hidebound by greed and fear. I hold my leaders responsible for setting standards of behaviour. If this is what he said, our Prime Minister just gave his people license to exercise selfishness, to continue to breed prejudice, to continue to choose greed over generosity, to continue to seek the easiest paths to comfort.
I hold our leaders responsible for the way in which some of us behave. The stands they take influence the attitudes we display; monkey see, monkey do after all. I am calling on all responsible Bahamians in positions of influence and power to behave as they know we should all behave, to encourage us to make every effort to find ways to get to Haiti, to encourage us to give and give and give until it hurts, to ask us to share our wealth a little more, to ask us to give up a little of our comfort and safety to build true community and nurture compassion with our neighbours. I am calling on all talk show hosts to refuse to allow more hate and fear to infect the air waves, on all politicians to think about what is right instead of what is expedient and to model it, to all teachers to model the highest standards for behaviour, to all administrators to exercise fairness and compassion. I am not giving any of these people a free ride any more; real change comes when individuals take risks. From here on in, let us call them out.