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Mistakes of two leaders

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Mistakes of two leaders

April 22, 2102

Dear Sir,

Response to Brownlow Adderly April 19 letter on his Two great leaders (Sir Henry Tucker/Dr Ewart Brown)With respect to the subject of leaders and in particular great leaders here is a quote: “Before he can remake his society, his society must make him.”

I can't remember who wrote/quoted that, but it is an adage that pits the issue of what is a great man as being part of a social phenomenon. I guess if you look for a spiritual equivalent we have Jesus saying “If you lift me up, then I will draw all men unto me.” (Notice the compulsion or salient point is in being lifted up.)

All of those quotes, of course, are related to the phenomenon of leaders being born to lead and more importantly that they are shaped by social circumstances and the job is for societies to recognise their benefactors and lift them up. Some societies do and some don't.

There is the philosophy that will say that the world as we know it is as result of great men and that the highest of our species sets the code for what and who we truly are. It is also something we, as a human society, can see the evidence that each of us are influenced by the lives of great men and it's through them we discover parts within ourselves that exults us and helps us rise beyond the mundane, refine our character and find higher purpose.

If we were to use any of that as criterion to set a benchmark for greatness in our leaders in Bermuda, we may have to conclude that we haven't got there yet. While I'm sure there are personal motivational points on examining the life of both the persons Mr Brownlow deems as great. However I don't know if any of us become spiritually motivated to become better persons or resolve to become better humans, as a result of the leaderships of Sir Henry Tucker or Dr Ewart Brown. I don't think they inspire any of us that way.

Now there is the argument that great men doesn't necessarily mean good men and that the world has seen many great leaders who were powerful, but not good. Hitler is often regarded in that vein. Some may look at the impact that an individual has on his society and attribute the term great. I think that was perhaps the yardstick that Mr Brownlow used. In that regard Sir Henry Tucker had a tremendous impact on the political and economic shape of Bermuda for the 20th Century.

He was a pragmatist who understood that our segregated structure could not remain and needed to be integrated to remain current in a world that was changing. However Sir Henry was not designing a world of equals, but rather a careful exercise of maintaining political and economic control of white establishment as Bermuda transitioned forward. His role with the American baselands and the bank as a financial institution very much pre-staged the era of international business and the tourism that drove Bermuda ahead of most island jurisdictions.

He braved his own contemporaries and helped bring Bermuda out from abject segregation. But Sir Henry did not champion the era of human rights or enfranchisement. He was for the most part a detractor until it was inevitably outdated. Nor was his financial role benign at the bridge of social change when prior to the '60s black entrepreneurship was significant. He facilitated the deliberate economic rise of the Portuguese while simultaneously and systematically allowed the decline of indigenous Bermuda black business. He, along with others, were instrumental in driving the wedge between middle class blacks and labour, yet still he deserves the credit for making a progressive transition.

Dr Brown was and is a very intelligent man full of indignation. In many ways he is a product of this society and the antithesis of the economic stranglehold that was the exercise of the elite economic stake holders. His ire, which some refer to as his vengeance similar to that of Dr E F Gordon, comes out of knowing the polorized economic imbalance. The problem for Dr Brown as I saw it, is that the imbalance affected all of us and if there was to be a change it was meant to be for all of us.

Personally, while I can truly relate to the need to bring about inclusion, I would want to do so in a manner that actually empowered the beleaguered people and not simply empower my own self. I would also want to do it in a way that expanded our economy and not with the aim of diminishing the white sector.

So yes, his methodology was cold face and essentially the same kind of cold face that held black empowerment at bay. What he did in Dockyard for example is precisely what the established white elite group did back in the early '80s. They took everything as though it were a right with only the crumbs left to provide an illusion of being inclusive. So yes, Dr Brown showed power and determinism to counteract those kinds of efforts, but I think it is hard to celebrate his leadership ethically, because as is the case in too many black struggle scenarios around the world. How do I look at leaders who are rich and have become even more enriched when their people are left in their wake poor? I can think of a number of black contractors who are now much poorer since his reign and I can see a couple of non-blacks who would never have prospered so greatly were it not for his leadership.

Now some will offer the classic answer, “that's the way it's done in the real world, someone comes and takes/steals the kingdom and changes the course of history”. Isn't that what the Brits did to the Roman Empire? Well yes, but don't call that process the work of a great man particularly in this modern society. Finally we may all pay the price, because we too often adhere only to that kind of process of Dr Brown and the former establishment, which is motivated by race and will refute and outright repress any enlightened humanistic route. So, can we learn from our mistakes so clearly portrayed in those two leadership styles?


Sir Henry Tucker
Dr Ewart Brown

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Published April 24, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated April 24, 2012 at 9:37 am)

Mistakes of two leaders

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