This is why we must march
7 May 2014
If history has taught us anything it is that we as human beings don't really learn anything form history. Here are three examples of how historically the improvements of the past 250 years have done just as much to hurt society as they have to help it.
Yes, with the advent of the industrial revolution there were some magnificent stride in business and industry. These were all followed by their own social ills such as poor working conditions which in turn led to the spread in diseases like cholera, the conditions of workers in factories, child labour, imperialism, social Darwinism in colonial colonies and the enforcement of European tradition and culture which ended up destroying many indigenous people. In every instance a period of adjustment was embarked upon bringing with it social campaigns designed to improve the adverse consequences that came with progress.
The development of labour unions was a direct consequence of industrial practices which caused harm to the workers of the world and protests and marching were some of the ways that people brought such change about.
During the 19th century the industrial revolution bought great strides, economically with the advent of capitalism; such as the inclusion of a highly mobile middle class. Recent history has also shown that these same principals when applied to today's business model can cause serious economic disparity which of late has only benefited a mere one percent of society. For 99 percent of the population throughout the world economic and financial security has been consistently degraded and the burgeoning middle class of the 19th century have all but disappeared.
With this the freedoms that came with that upward mobility have begun to degrade. In order to further such freedoms society has a tendency to either agitatedly and or to peacefully protest.
During the height of the financial catastrophe in the United States, civil unrest occurred in many large cities in the wake of the Wall Street debacle. There were protesters marching in the streets, people occupied parks, and in some instances in European countries there were riots and public anarchy ensued.
To date the only civil unrest which has taken place in our tiny Island have been a few marches where people have united to show their solidarity. The question I ask is this, “why are people surprised when we march, and why is it deemed as an affront?” The reason why we march is because unlike some in our society, we have consistently had to deal with the full force of the “economic collapse” since it began in 2008.
Bermuda has greatly benefited from capitalism thanks to international business in the 20th century. However, with the market crash of 2008 Bermuda businesses like businesses throughout the world have suffered leaving our economy like other economies throughout the world in dire straits. This decline has left many in the middle class to deal with the burden of these economic disparities. Not to mention the way this has affected the poor and those who are the most vulnerable members of our society.
Many have lost jobs; some who still have them are struggling to keep up with the cost of living which has risen drastically. The idea of leaving a better legacy for our children is the mantra of the middle class throughout the world Bermuda is no different.
The value of success through economic and educational opportunities is the strength upon which any society uses to draw upon and to enhance its potential for growth. The same is true for the current generation and yes; many believe there must be policies put into place that will help people find ways to improve their economic conditions either through further training, for those who need it or by gaining outside employment such as having a second job in order to supplant ones income. When people see little or no opportunities to empower themselves or the next generation they begin to look to those in power to initiate policies that will help them to achieve these endeavours.
We keep hearing the powers that be telling us that we must tighten our belt and that “Bermuda must embark on a shared sacrifice during these financial trying times.” The Government of today must stop making excuses and moreover; stop passing the buck. I for one am tired of hearing that had it not been for the PLP we wouldn't be in this predicament. The PLP is no longer in power this Government must now take responsibility for the creation of fair and practical policies that will enable our society to compete economically and also help those who need it the most. Many of us, and yes I include myself as one who would publicly protest and ask this Government to institute policies that will not only help convince businesses to return to Bermuda but also to institute training opportunities for those Bermudians who need it, to continue to subsidise and help those in financial need to give us the opportunity through education bursaries that will give the next generation of Bermudians a fighting chance.
Justice is asking this Government to look at immigration policies that exclude Bermudians from getting both first and second jobs because of unfair hiring practices which allow expat workers who come here and employ people who are also expats to get those jobs because they will work for less.
Justice has never been a promise it has always been a quality that must be fervently fought for. In the autobiography of Martin Luther King he writes that his views on civil disobedience were greatly influenced by the writings of Henry Thoreau. King states that his ideas for sit ins, marches, and boycotts were direct results of the idea by Thoreau who abdicated that people not pay taxes to finance a war that would help further slavery.
Thoreau's ideas establish the thought that society must defy that which they deem unjust by peaceful means but that those means may be constituted by the power structures as impractical, however as King goes on to state “that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.”
“It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders.” - Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
And so the fight continues.