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The true will of the people

Political leaders throughout much of the world have a tendency to speak as though their objectives are representative of everyone, even those who disagree with them for whatever reason.

Of course in dictatorial settings whether the people agree or disagree makes no difference. Those in power usually make it clear that objectors will be treated as insubordinates.

In a true democracy the people should always have the right of free expression, even to the point of disagreeing with those in positions of power, which is the very base of any democratic society. In too many instances it is the disagreement itself that sets off a chain reaction of angry emotions that blot out a sense of reasoning, resulting in escalating divisiveness which are a stumbling block for building harmony.

Most people are open to disagreements as a part of life, but it is a different story when this happens in the political arena, where people at times have such deep allegiance to this or that group that an opposing view is frowned upon as an obstacle toward progress. This is unfortunate, because in a small society as we have in Bermuda, some refrain from discussing controversial issues, even within family circles, out of fear of damaging relations in unpleasant exchanges.

Politicians need to be careful what they perceive as the will of the people, when in a diverse society opinions vary on a number of subjects. Both the OBA Government and the Opposition Progressive Labour Party have unwavering supporters with strong views on what is best for Bermuda. However, there are also those in the middle who feel just as strong about issues that affect daily life, such as a fragile economy and job losses that continue to impact families throughout the Island. This in no way means they are unwilling to confront history that has many pages of injustice.

What is troubling to Bermudians, irrespective of race or political ties, is that those history pages cannot be rewritten, and those who engaged in such practices are not here to be placed before the courts. The Opposition PLP's disengaging in the Parliamentary process to protest the Governor's rejection of a call for a Commission of Inquiry into past illegal land claims appears ill-thought-out. The Governor made it clear he wanted more clarification on what would be involved in the process, and in that light would be prepared to have a second look at such a proposal.

Calling for a march on Government House at the moment over this matter seems a little over the top, with the Island in such a precarious economic state that stability, while working through any type of disagreement, should be a priority with our leaders and the people. Just as workers should avoid downing tools while sorting out labour disputes, responsible political leaders should be willing to do business at the negotiating table.

The true will of the people in democratic jurisdictions is that political leaders act more responsibly in what is best for the people, instead of seeking to build a support base for objectives that carry political undertones.

This is not a time for emotions to bubble over on any issue. The true will of the people is that our leaders carry out their duties in a manner that is not clouded with anger and bitterness when disagreements occur.

Marches and demonstrations, although a part of democracy, usually attract some people who simply want an opportunity to disrupt civil order. It happens all over the world.

There has to be a more responsible way to tackle this situation, and it should be within the walls of the Parliament building.

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Published July 15, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 14, 2014 at 9:52 pm)

The true will of the people

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