On Emancipation Day

Wanted to post something all day yesterday but was working to finish one of the two reviews and so I didn't. (I did finish the review though!)This is the beginning of what I wrote:Today is Emancipation Day. It's the last public holiday for the summer, but that's not really the point of the day. On August 1, 1834, slavery in the British Empire came to an end. (The conditions that attached to slavery didn't end then, but that's another story). I'm not entirely sure that we truly understand the significance of the day, but that's also another discussion. This year, in 2011, neighbourhoods, communities and families are planting trees.It's a first step. But for emancipation really to have been achieved, we need to emancipate our minds from a number of things. The first of these is the idea that many of us have—that far too many of our "leaders" appear to promote—that we Bahamians cannot do anything without outside help. That we cannot trust the man sitting next to us, or the woman in the next room, but that we can trust the stranger coming in from overseas. That we ourselves do not need to prove ourselves trustworthy because, well, Bahamians don't know any better anyway.For true emancipation, we need to believe in something bigger than ourselves, and something less scam-distorted than the "god" we hear so much about. (Believing in God is all well and good, but if it's just to make sure we get material reward in this lifetime, then it's not God we're really believing in at all). Something like truth, or honour, or service, or community. Something that makes the enslavement of our ancestors and their subsequent freedom worth all the suffering they endured. Something that would make them proud to have survived what they did on our behalf.So plant trees—and water them. What was begun yesterday must continue for the rest of the year, even the rest of our lives. But we need to understand that this is only a beginning, and a symbolic one at that.