A vision of an opportunity
While our intellect seeks summary meaning for a story, our soul craves depth; layers of meaning. The Christmas Story is multilayered, offering a sense of mystery. Lets consider the implications of our general election in the context of that First Noel.
This story is central to the stew called Western Culture. The focus on a newborn offers a perspective of renewal, a yearly opportunity to explore ones latent potential. The setting of this King of the Jews being born in so humble a circumstance, offers an indication that our true power is found within; not in external trappings. This context provides a lens through which we might explore our political reality.
That initial Christmas had a political dimension, leading to a grassroots movement that challenged the status quo. Joseph, the carpenter was required — like fellow Jews — to take the pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem to pay a New Tax.
That had been levied by Herod, the surrogate King of the Roman Empire, paying for his extravagant construction projects. The crowds meant that there was no room in the inn and the baby Jesus was born in a stable. The shepherds out in the fields are the first to hear the Good News from an Angel; not the religious hierarchy, nor the political classes.
The Progressive Labour Party was born out of a grassroots movement which challenged a status quo. One of its key founders — Wilfred (Mose) Allen — was a mentor of mine, in the 70s and 80s. While no one would have described him as Christlike, except when Jesus turned over the tables of the hustlers in the Temple, Mose was the essence of humility. A confidante of Dr Gordon and mentor to Dame Lois, serving with her at the Conference that hammered out the first Bermuda Constitution in London in 1967, he was as grassroots as the Apostles.
However, he readily engaged those counterparts such as founder of the UBP, Henry Jack Tucker, regarding pertinent issues. In his 70s when I knew him, Mr Allen would travel everywhere by pedal bike, notwithstanding having only one leg.
Mose was the firebrand that stood as a conscience for the Party. However, in my view, there were times that, like St Peter, he went too far. This was one of the factors, that arguably delayed the development of the PLP and its level of political success. Nevertheless, Mr. Allen would be considered one of our Islands proverbial 3 Wise Men (or Women), exemplifying integrity.
After some time in the wilderness, in November 1998, as a result of a culmination of a variety of factors, the Progressive Labour Party successfully took the power of Government, a fundamental shift in the status quo. That was a key milestone of a process that has transformed the island forever. That change resonates with the Christmas story; which constituted a paradigm shift some 2000 years ago.
Herod, while Jewish, served for the Roman Empire as King of Judea during that First Noel. He exemplified a lack of integrity during his rule and Jesus subsequent ministry offered a challenge to that status quo which sent ripples through two millennia.
While I wont go into detail of the 14 years of Government since 1998, save to say that there have been some good times and like all situations, some mistakes made. Over time, some supporters of the PLP became disillusioned with their Government. While this is a complex matter which will be addressed subsequently, it evidently led to the result of the general election. The former Premier Paula Cox, has graciously stepped down after what, for most, was a shock defeat in her own constituency.
The new Premier Craig Cannonier, Leader of the One Bermuda Alliance, has begun a process which constitutes opening a new chapter in the story of Bermuda, calling for the rebirth in our way forward. The PLP has elected a young Leader, Marc Bean who has spoken about the need for renewal, particularly regarding the narrative regarding the legacy of being a biracial island.
While the Christmas Storys literal translation suggests an immaculate conception; the underlying meaning might speak simply of the role of the Divine. We seem to be on the verge of a new birth in Bermuda, which is the result of two parents. There is the new OBA Government that brings something from the old UBP. While the other parent would be the renewed PLP Opposition, which can offer the best of their previous generations, along with renewed insights of those upcoming.
Out of a crisis, there is a vision of an opportunity; spoken to by both Premier Cannonier and Marc Bean. Our challenges speak to the fact that we are neighbours on a small and remote island in the Atlantic. A central message of the Christ is that we love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Recalling the suggestion of the Angel not to fear, as we move forward together as a community, we could engage in a conversation right from the grassroots, regarding how we could live out that commandment.
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