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A Wish List for 2011

As 2010 draws to an end we now shift our focus to the year ahead. Many of us will be making New Year's resolutions in the hope of fighting what sometimes seem like personal demons; I will, instead, share my wish list for Bermuda in 2011.1. While we all accept that education is one of our greatest challenges, I want to see demonstrable improvement in our students' performance in both English and mathematics. We know how to fix it; we have examples of success; so let's get this done.2. Violence is at unprecedented levels and we need decisive action on this front. Responsibility for dealing with this emanates from a multitude of areas police, prisons, community groups, parents and therefore requires a greater coordination of effort. I want to see a reduction in incidents of violent crime this will be a measure of progress.3. Opining that our tourism product is challenged would be an understatement. To best reposition, restructure and rebrand we need a comprehensive strategy for tourism. This strategy, built with public input, must decide who are target market is and how to reach them, along with the rationale; it must detail a plan of action regarding improving our infrastructure; and it must have a realistic approach to ensuring quality service.4. Over the years, we have seen sporadic acrimony between Government and the business community. In 2011, I want to see a better, stronger relationship. While there may at times be diverging interests, they both benefit when the economy is robust, when society is stable and there is genuine equality of opportunity.5. Too many of us are lip-synching when we say we want young people fully engaged in society. For this to happen we must start from the position of mutual respect and be prepared to relinquish some power to young people. In 2011, I want to see a national focus on youth where they are empowered to work alongside those of us beyond our 30s, as equals, to make a meaningful contribution to fixing some of our most pressing issues.6. I want to see that large segment of our community who are so forceful with their opinions in Letters to the Editor (anonymous and otherwise), on talk radio, on blogs and social networks, become fully engaged in the quest for reform they say they believe in. These actions, while an important part of a strong democracy today, are no substitute for social activism. Bermuda needs you … but not merely venting from the comfort of your couch.7. Politicians listen very intently to the people when the election bell has been rung. Too many tend to lose their hearing in between: they don't follow up on their constituents, don't return phone calls or respond to e-mails. Not surprisingly, this helps generate voter apathy. In 2011 I want to see more responsive politicians, those who do not simply listen to their constituents but who actually show they are concernedas they are mandated to beabout the issues affecting our country and are not focused on either the status of public office or the trappings they can garner.8. The state of politics and the economy are such today that there is a suspicious, cautious eye cast toward our business and political leaders. I want to see greater confidence by the public in our leader in the coming year but this will have to be based on a strong ethical foundation to leadership. The public should accept nothing less.9. One of the most critical components required for next year is a vision of where the government wants to take the country. It is one thing to manage and fix problems. We will move to an entirely different level when we have a clearly articulated vision for the future the role of government, the private sector and the public in getting us there, and the elements of that vision.10. Finally, I want all of us to engage in a national conversation about our future relationship with the United Kingdom. The world is changing rapidly and many of us, mistakenly, believe Bermuda is standing still. Britain has asserted more power over us in the past ten years, while the supra-national European Union makes decisions concerning us while we have no voice. What relationship do you want with the UK in 2011?The onset of a new year provides a convenient opportunity to reflect on the way forward. My reflections are submitted for your contemplation.Walton Brown is a social and political commentator. Follow his blog on www.respicefinem1. blogspot.com. He can be contacted at walton[AT]researchmix.com