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Fear of change must not stop progress

As Bermuda prepares to begin a new chapter of its political life, at a time when dramatic changes are occurring around the world, collectively we need to be more mindful that change usually creates fear especially with those who feel their world, right or wrong, is under siege.

America is currently in a new type of civil war, and although it is without weapons, it is a war of words over assault weapons. After a series of horrible tragedies involving weapons capable of firing 100 rounds in a matter of seconds, the nation is divided over the true meaning of the Second Amendment in their Constitution.

One radio commentator known for fanaticism in expressing views, said the President of the United States Barak Obama, must be stopped from introducing legislation that would restrict ownership of high powered rifles. It was that type of weapon used recently in the Sandy Hook School tragedy where 20 young students died along with several teachers. Gun lobbyists in the US feel ownership of such a weapon is a constitutional right. Other commentators felt attacking the President with vicious threatening words could easily inflame extremist who might consider achieving that goal outside the law.

The latest school tragedy which shocked the world, turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back on the issue of guns in America. Cries erupted throughout the United States calling for action to halt a trend where thousands die every year in the US with no solution in sight to improve gun control. The powerful National Rifle Association has yet to budge from its position that instead of restrictions, more guns are needed to keep people safe. That view is considered by many as preposterous.

In fact, frantic buying of assault weapons throughout America followed calls from the White House and numerous groups that tighter controls over these weapons were needed to keep them out of the hands of criminals and the mentally disturbed. The problem is that in a nation flooded with guns, it will be difficult to bring about real change. How this will all play out will be a test of America’s will to put common sense ahead of the argument that the right to bear arms includes assault weapons. Without change, many feel the next gun tragedy is not too far away.

There is much we in Bermuda can learn from various situations around the world where people in large and small countries struggle daily in their quest for peace and justice. Our world is a much smaller place with modern communication technology that provides a global spotlight on just about every event within seconds on any part of the planet.

Our leaders on this small Island need to remain focused on key matters affecting the people, especially since the global recession without a doubt has impacted just about everyone. Violent gun crime continues to be of great concern to most Bermudians, since there is always the fear that a desperate criminal with a gun will target anyone.

As the One Bermuda Alliance attempts to tackle a wide range of problems with a new administration, they must not shift their focus from key issues such as improving the economy, tourism, crime, healthcare, education and seek new ways to deal with the ever lingering illegal drug problem. The Opposition Progressive Labour Party can be expected to point out any weakness they deem as counter productive, which is their role. That is a part of democracy and the OBA know that. However if the OBA keep the people well informed at every turn along the way, support for them will grow. Any democratic Government that allows a disconnect with the people will lose the confidence needed to remain in office. The former United Bermuda Party, and now the PLP know this.

There are many problems ahead, but political fighting for the sake of fighting will only hinder progress. Egos or political posturing must take a back seat if we hope to get Bermuda back on a successful track economically and socially.

The aftermath of an election usually leaves crushed egos and wounds to heal and even this can be a challenge for a new administration. Our Parliament building, we hope, will not become a battle ground for political blood letting. Instead it should be the centre where the concerns of the Bermudian people is the highest priority.

Every Parliamentarian should place the people above party when it comes to making decisions that mean the difference between policy and what is best for Bermuda. As in the past, the people will be watching closely to judge for themselves who really has their interests at heart. We all want a better Bermuda. Commonsense, cooperation and commitment should move us in the right direction. We should never allow the fear of change to stand in the way of progress.

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Published January 15, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm)

Fear of change must not stop progress

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