Art of working together is as elementary as P6
Only two months into the new year and it is fair to say that 2016 has been the year of the demonstrator.
With the initiatives that the Bermuda Government is hoping to push through in this the penultimate parliamentary year before the next General Election, it is highly unlikely that the d-word will be far from the lips of most commentators and those itching for a fight.
The protests have come fast and furious, and in varying forms — from silent and peaceful to loud and disruptive — as issues such as the redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport, same-sex marriage and civil unions, proposed school closures and pathways to status have presented enough talking points to engage a full year in review.
The Government could do far worse than to hold its hand up and admit that its delivery in the face of mounting public dissent has been just short of disastrous — and that's just in 2016.
Such a gesture may not win too many sympathy votes among those who are not for turning, but at least there would be tacit acknowledgement that those in power have made a Horlicks of it by putting the cart before the horse once too often.
Given the work and thought that had so obviously gone into each of the earlier talking points, the pathways initiative in particular, that is truly unfortunate because there is so much that is good about what has been proposed. But an own goal is an own goal.
The CITV programme last Thursday may have been planned well in advance but it did not seem that way, coming as it did on the heels of an aborted public meeting that was an utter embarrassment for this country and which recalled horrid scenes from nigh on 12 months earlier.
Those who stopped the Minister of Home Affairs (Michael Fahy), his junior minister (Sylvan Richards) and the Attorney-General (Trevor Moniz) from engaging on the initiative, which might very well have included them getting grilled — it is to be presumed they would have expected as much — can take little credit for what appeared a week later to be a retreat to a government-owned production studio to get its message out.
Democracy by then had been given a serious black eye as, yet again, the grown-ups presented an object lesson to our young people in how not to go about dispute resolution.
So where to turn when those entrusted, and trusted, to act appropriately cannot or choose not to? When the House of Assembly is more akin to a house of insults? When the Upper House's colours are lowered to such demeaning effect that the Senate chamber can be invaded at the wave of a deviant hand?
So where do we turn?
To the youth, of course, as we do with most things when inspiration is not forthcoming from those on high and when reasoning is out of touching distance in the face of mob intransigence.
Unfortunately, however, the age of innocence is having to become younger and younger, with fewer immune to behaviour among adults that is then inherent and leads to the betrayal of a rapidly diminishing median intellect that leaves Bermuda's forward thinkers on an island. Metaphorically speaking.
Lucky, then, for The Royal Gazette to be paid homage by 47 young literary hopefuls, who, through the aid of their iPads and trusty Pages Apps, shone a ray of hope into the newsroom — we bring you the girls of BHS Primary Six.
Spurred on by literacy teacher Tracy Renaud, the girls, who are aged 10 and 11, and come in all shapes, colours and sizes — as we all do — worked together on a project as one big group, collaborated in subsets, agreed to disagree, and then presented 22 well-crafted letters addressed to the Editor.
Hmm, what analogy can be made from that?
With the future of print media uncertain as the digital age instructs us to peer into the next universe to be explored, it is pleasing to know that our young people still care about the old-school basics. Where do newspapers come from? How have they evolved over time?
“Making the News” is the result of weeks of hard work, culminating in the writing of their letters by the end of January, for delivery to 2 Par-la-Ville Road in the first week of February.
Owing to the formulaic nature of the project, the letters have a sameness about them so that none can be handpicked as better or worse than the other.
What shone through, though, was a togetherness and a singularity of purpose.
They were not to know that, within weeks, The Independent would close its print edition after 30 years in business as the “new kid on the block” on Britain's Fleet Street.
It is a sad day for any news organisation when one of your own has to make such a difficult decision. This sadness is felt even though “Fleet Street” is thousands of miles from here, as it evoked memories of the final days of the Mid-Ocean News in 2008 and, more recently, the Bermuda Sun.
But a glance back towards the girls' letters provided all the hope needed to soldier on; they imbued the singularity of purpose that we can continue to make a difference for those on this island who are prepared to be moved.
Ms Renaud, when she presented the letters, noted how the girls had enjoyed an “invaluable experience”. She stands to be corrected there, though, for the invaluable experience has been all ours.
Thank you, young ladies of BHS P6. We salute you. You have done your school and your families proud.
• To read a PDF of the letters click on the link under “Related Media”