TONI THORNE: God is not a Bajan
FIRSTLY, I would like to thank God for the fact that we had no deaths during Matthew. I saw a video of a house roof being blown off in The Bahamas and instantly wondered if persons were inside the house when it happened. I witnessed a friend in Miami refer to the chaos in preparation for Hurricane Matthew as “Babylon”.
As she kept updating her statuses and lamented about the fact that her hotel was so far away from any other hotel, I grew more and more concerned for her safety. My flight to Miami was cancelled and the more my other friends in Miami sent me updates, the more I wanted to stay in Barbados.
What really broke my heart were the pictures of what occurred and continues to happen in Haiti both during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. There was a picture which went viral of a woman in water up to her chin with her hands raised. She was hoping that someone would see her arms and rescue her. Haiti is a country which is still trying to recover from previous natural disasters and many felt the pain of the people but also respected their constant resilience.
However, with empathy always comes disdain. Some people, credited Haiti’s outcome in the hurricane as an “act of God against voodoo” and the mere mortals were quick to analyse the prevalence of voodoo in Haitian society and the fact that “God is not pleased”.
Who are we to pronounce God’s reasons for doing things? Always be wary of some people who speak on behalf of God and spew hateful or demeaning comments. Quite recently, someone claimed to have a “message from God” for me. My response was, “Wuh I gotta be real dumb cuz I right here and God coulda holla at me”.
We can all analyse and give our opinions on why Haiti continues to suffer the way it does. However, the only one with the answers is God. What is admirable is the resilience and pride amongst the Haitian people amid the disasters they experience. Quite recently in a Carifesta meeting, I was intrigued by how proud the Haitian representative spoke about his country.
We must also remember that at one time, Haiti was the gem of the Caribbean and eventually, all things come full circle.
Perhaps, these sentiments are a reflection of a bigger issue at hand. Truth be told, many Bajans believe that God is a Bajan. Many of us say it. I heard a man say so jokingly in the gas station the day before the island was shutdown. As a result, we do not take the warnings of the DEM office seriously and constantly condemn their efforts and instructions. Many steupsed and said the officials were “wasting their time”. Similarly, this attitude of lack of caution was seen in the cars who drag-raced along the highway; the surfing on the Garrison Savannah and persons who insisted on working during the time we were experiencing the system.
We have been blessed people, no doubt about that. God continues to protect us. Many of us have no idea how to adequately prepare for, behave during or imagine what would occur if we were hit by a serious weather system.
In conclusion, I hope that we can continue to pray for Haiti and send any items we can to assist our brothers and sisters. Perhaps, we can cease trying to analyse the ways of God and focus more on helping than on judgement. Thirdly, a lot of the things we say and do would be greatly enhanced if many of us stop believing that “God is a Bajan” because he is not.
Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email: [email protected]