Atmosphere of togetherness shattered by the evil men do
Hurricane Nicole was a fickle one from the outset. She formed well to our southeast, moved north and then moved south before heading westward and turning due north, making a beeline for Bermuda.
With such unpredictability in her make-up bag, it should be no surprise that Nicole kicked up a fuss before putting on her lipstick and knocking on our door — forming into a Category 4 hurricane — before behaving in relative ladylike fashion upon hitting our shores.
As far as strong Category 3 storms go, this one was a bit of a soft touch.
But that is nothing to get all gung-ho about; we caught a break.
It is at this time that we cast an eye, still, towards our Caribbean neighbours in Haiti, where almost 1,000 lives were lost during the passage of Hurricane Matthew, and then towards the United States East Coast, where another 16 perished as a result of the same storm.
Then we must thank the heavens for the favour bestowed upon us. We were spared.
It is often repeated that it is at times such as these when the common good in Bermudians and Bermuda residents rises to the surface.
All the enmity, all the uneasy reservations over race borne of generations of mistrust, all the xenophobia, all the gender bias, all the politics — put to one side.
A country coming together, neighbours looking out for one another, strangers offering a helping hand, the young taking care of the elderly.
It may be something so basic as offering a hot meal, a shower hot or cold, or simply providing someone to talk to after a night of isolation and uncertainty as Nicole raged around us, trying as she might to rediscover the venom that prompted the National Hurricane Centre to call this “a very dangerous storm”.
Notwithstanding what normal citizens can achieve, we can rely on our champions in times of strife: the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the Emergency Measures Organisation have been immense.
Often taken for granted, these two groups show their true worth when put to the test. Their almost seamless transition from state of readiness to diving into action was and is comforting to tens of thousands.
It has been said on these pages before that Michael Dunkley unleashed a star when he relinquished the national security portfolio. Who knew that one of the best suited to their ministry in the One Bermuda Alliance Cabinet would be an unelected senator?
But Senator Jeff Baron has ticked all the right boxes since his elevation from Premier's aide and ministry spokesman to Minister of National Security. It begs the question: why the OBA would pitch such a prospect into Pembroke South East in 2012?
However the General Election goes next year, the ruling party would do well to ensure that mistake is not repeated and that one of their brightest sparks at least has a voice in Parliament by running him in a “safer” constituency.
Returning to Constituency 21 against the ebullient Rolfe Commissiong, a hefty winner four years ago, should be avoided at all costs.
As active and well-intentioned as Dunkley was as the Minister of National Security, Baron has picked up the baton and carried it with all the alacrity of Usain Bolt on the last leg of the Olympic 4x100 metres relay final with history in sight.
Talent on either side of the political divide is not to be dismissed lightly and it is to be hoped that Baron can make inroads into the cancerous growth that again reared its head on Thursday night.
It takes a special type of evil to attempt to commit murder against a backdrop of the community hurricane effort that was witnessed on Thursday and which continued through yesterday.
But evil does not do context. It is selfish and oblivious to the needs and concerns of others — even those who go to great lengths to harbour the very same evildoers. When the lone gunman fired into a group congregated outside The Spinning Wheel, striking one man on the arm, the argument weakened significantly for that small percentage of thugs who roam the island with impunity to be given some benefit of the doubt.
They are lost and do not want to be found — until it is at the end of a bullet.
All efforts must be continued to educate the at-risk preteens and teenagers, but those “lost” souls need to be removed from society for a spell, with cold-blooded murderers given no way back. Whole life may not be on our books in Bermuda, but it is pretty clear that the right-minded people of this country are growing tired of seeing killers let back loose into society, while their victims are gone for life.
Our non-scientific poll shows that almost 70 per cent of more than 3,200 respondents by the end of the workday yesterday are in support of murderers being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Those who would interrupt dramatically the bonhomie that is central to the spirit of togetherness that can be found only at a post-hurricane community effort do not really deserve to walk the same streets.