Merry Christmas to all our readers
Inevitably, editorials on Christmas Eve look back on the past 12 months. For the past few years it has been a struggle to find much positive to say about Bermuda’s recent past.
Economic stagnation, the travails of Covid-19 and rising crime cast a pall over the island, while at home and abroad, the rise of populism and increased political polarisation have raised doubts about the viability of Bermuda’s liberal democratic system.
Happily, it is possible to look back over 2022 in a more positive light. Bermuda has emerged from Covid-19 intact and while full economic normalcy remains a long way off, there is now a greater sense of normality, a relief from the pervasive insecurity that accompanied Covid-19 spikes and lockdowns.
Bermuda’s ability to weather the pandemic is a testament to its leaders, the professionals in the civil service, the medical professions and the community as a whole.
While there were inevitably arguments and divides, and the cost of the pandemic remains high, the reality is that Bermuda survived and should now be on a better footing. That the vast majority accepted science over cynicism should encourage us all.
Still, there are lessons to be learnt and it would be timely for an inquiry to be established to review what went right and what went wrong so Bermuda is better equipped for the inevitable next pandemic.
But there are other elements of the period which should be remembered and built on.
The fact the community did come together, shared sacrifices and came to a consensus on how to enable people, including the most vulnerable, to survive should be remembered. Compared with our often fractious politics and sometimes petty disputes, this showed that there are more constructive ways to deal with the challenges that confront us.
As Bermuda moves forward, the community needs to recognise where it makes sense to come together and to put political and financial advantage aside for the common good.
The pandemic also laid bare just how many vulnerable people there are in the community. Bringing back full employment and ensuring there is a safety net for those who find themselves in severe difficulty must be a community focus.
It is heartening to see charities and generous individuals step up, and to see government agencies serve the public, but the reality is that we are all our brother’s keeper and we all have an obligation to help the less fortunate. Covid-19 proved that “there but for the grace of God go I” is not just a saying. Disaster can befall anyone at any time.
As we celebrate the Christmas season, this is where the teachings of Jesus Christ can be applied and this is valid whether or not people have a strong faith or are non-believers.
Whether there is a God, or life after death, are questions that can be left for another arena. But the teachings of Jesus are universal, beginning with the golden rule. If everyone started from the point of trying to treat others as they expect to be treated, the world would instantly be a better place.
And if we remember that ultimately love of family and friends, shared experiences and random acts of kindness are more important than any amount of material things, then Bermuda can be a better place.
But charity can only go so far. Finding ways to lift up the underprivileged and to make Bermuda a fairer place where no one is denied the opportunity to fulfil their potential must be the goal of the whole community and its political leadership.
Far more unites this community than divides it. The key is to find common ground and to come together to find solutions. There will be healthy disagreements along the way but if these can be debated in a civil and constructive way, we will all be the better for it.
Bermuda still faces great challenges. Inflation and economic stagnation hamper opportunity and are breeding grounds for crime and exploitation. The delivery of basic healthcare and education and safe and affordable transport are areas in desperate need of improvement.
Abroad, the world is a more dangerous place than ever, although the way the West has rallied to the defence of Ukraine gives reason for hope, as well as compassion for the suffering of that country.
If Bermuda can just come together, it can solve the problems it faces and be a force for good. Jesus urged his followers to put aside their pride. This Christmas and in 2023, we should too, and come together for the betterment of all.