Let’s move forward with love, understanding and tolerance
15 September 2013
I agree with the recent comments by Mr Donal Smith insofar as he states that Bermuda has a problem. He, like many Bermudians, laments the loss of the Bermuda of yesteryear —- a thriving Bermuda where tourism was the mainstay of our economy, tourists were welcomed with open arms, and jobs for Bermudians were more plentiful.
It is clear that Bermuda has changed and it is personally disconcerting to hear the generation that raised me mourning the Bermuda we seem to have left behind.
Mr Smith seems to blame some of the challenges the Island faces today on certain changes that Bermuda has gone through in the last couple of decades, however this may be oversimplifying the issue.
Change is inevitable. Nothing in life is static. Just as you and I are not the same people we were a year ago, Bermuda is not the same place it was a year ago, a decade ago, or a lifetime ago. And change can be good, too. Our Island home has adjusted to and embraced some very major and positive changes over the span of its existence. Some of the greatest changes include emancipation in 1834, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, universal suffrage in 1968, and the 2013 amendment to the Human Rights Act. Bermuda has also had to adapt to economic changes over its 400 year existence persevering in industries as varied as shipbuilding, salt-raking, agriculture, tourism, and most recently international business. As a Bermudian, one can feel proud of and inspired by prior generations for having the courage to adjust to the changes and challenges they faced.
If Bermudians had not changed with the world around them, they would not have survived. As individuals, we can choose to resist or ignore the changes we face. But no matter how hard we try to hold on to the life we are used to, the world doesn't stop changing around us. And the further the world moves from the spot we hold on to, the more uncomfortable it becomes.
Bermuda faces challenges today because we are still catching up to the changes that are happening all around us. Although Bermuda is an island, it does not mean we should be insular in our attitude towards the changes happening around us. Mr Smith talks of Bermuda as being fragmented. I see it as stretched. It is being pulled between the Bermuda of the past and the world of the present, and the patches of our social quilt are slowly coming apart. In order to begin to heal our community we need to try to re-adjust our ideas and increase our understanding and tolerance of one another. Deprecating international business or people with alternative lifestyles only contributes to the discord. The key to getting along in the world is making an effort to understand it and the people and things within it.
Bermuda's motto (“whither the fates may carry us”) is sometimes criticised for suggesting Bermuda lacks control of its own destiny. To me, quo fata ferunt serves as a reminder that as our circumstances change so must we as a community, local and global, change and adjust to meet new challenges.
Yes, Mr Smith is right that Bermuda has problems. I suggest that solutions can be found if Bermudians move forward together with understanding, love, and tolerance.