Great opportunity to refocus on values
With the festive season very much upon us and much of the world in a tizzy over mounting issues that affect life on this earth, with divisiveness, hatred and violence exacting a heavy toll, this seems an appropriate time to pause and to reflect on what values really count in building a society where we should respect one another and treat one another in a dignified manner — even at times when there are starkly conflicting views.
These days with changing lifestyles and various viewpoints on what is best for building strong families based on traditional values, there is no shortage of debate. This is particularly true in the family setting, which is not as we once knew it and which is facing difficult times under an onslaught of distractions that involve cyberspace technology and electronic pitfalls.
There are growing concerns internationally about the family unit and how it is has been terribly weakened in recent decades, as so many young people have fallen victim to the misguided illusion that whatever is exciting is better than old-fashioned traditional values such as honesty, truth and respect.
Every day there are tragic incidents that shatter families throughout the world — when a young person is lost as a result of following a path of destruction disguised as new thrills in life.
There are no easy answers to these problems that affect families, even in our lovely island of Bermuda. A great challenge for our politicians is not how well they perform in the political arena, but how well they can connect with our social infrastructure to tap into the very heart of society — the family.
The gang activity on our island that has claimed so many lives of young Bermudian men did not evolve overnight. Every gang member was in a crib at one stage with no sign of becoming a danger to society. This can only mean that it is very crucial what happens during those early years of life in the family, which will either set the stage for building a good citizen or lay the foundation for difficult-to-comprehend, hostile traits that explode later for the family and the community.
No society is perfect and a wide range of circumstances economically and socially can be contributing challenges for all families. However, it is also true that in the most humble conditions, a family held together by the glue of values such as honesty, truth and respect will remain the strength of any community.
During this festive season, we hear a great deal about those in need, and a special effort is usually launched by the entire community, including the business sector. That is always welcomed. However, it is after the festive lights are turned off and the new year unfolds, there are still many people hurting with emotional and economic issues. That, sadly, is a part of modern life throughout the world, even in areas that appear to be flourishing with plenty.
Amid confusion and doubt, refocusing on good sound values and a willingness to work together will be the key to turning on the flame in that lamp of hope that should never be allowed to be extinguished.
Christmas is more than a festive time of partying, simply because that is what people do this time of the year. In other words, if it is a party that could be held any time of the year, the true meaning of it all is missed. Few would deny that during this festive season people are open to a little change with more smiles and warmer greetings — even for strangers. That in a way is a part of the miracle of hope that should never be lost for a better day.
So much has been written by leading journalists in America about the negative issues of the Donald Trump administration that what happened in a federal election in Alabama was seen as a shot in the arm for all Americans who still believe in decent values.
On election day, the people apparently decided that the Republican candidate fell too short of expected values and decided to support the Democratic candidate, sending a signal that although Alabama may be considered a Republican base, the people in the end will have the final say. This is important to highlight because it was a display of positive people sticking together — blacks and whites.
With the many challenges facing Bermuda in the new year, including violent crime, reckless conduct on our roads, declining family values, education issues, the plight of many of our seniors and the need to keep our economic infrastructure alive, Bermuda must collectively approach the future with a strong focus on values that rise above political status.
In the world of politics, it is not who you support, but rather what you support that really counts.
But this is the season to refresh our attitudes towards each other in the hope that we can build a strong healthy society for all to enjoy. The most essential element in that process will always be the family. That is where it all begins.
Best wishes for all and a happy new year.
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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