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More walls need to crumble

As Bermuda prepares for 2015 with high hopes for progress in all sectors of community life, especially with the impending America’s Cup and all the anticipated exposure it is expected to generate, improving communication between Government and the people on all major projects is crucial.

I would suggest that more walls need to crumble in this area.

Obviously any Government should be careful when releasing information since it is better to have not said something than be back-pedalling because of inaccuracy, accidental or not.

Most democratic Governments strive to keep a close alliance with the people who have the power to decide whether they should be removed, or kept in office.

With so many calls for working together by various public officials, including the Premier Michael Dunkley, it remains to be seen how well action by both political parties, and other community leaders, will play out when the Christmas spirit so prevalent during the season begins to fade, and political confrontations once again takes centre stage.

Democracy works best when there is a sense of respect between opposing groups in reaching a conclusion that is fair and just for all.

Respect for one another in all deliberations as we try to move forward will be paramount in determining success on so many fronts.

Recent events in America involving the relationship between Police and the public touched off storms of debate and culminated in vast demonstrations throughout the nation.

Many protesters felt some officers engaged in heavy-handed action and abused their power when dealing with suspects; this created a wall of mistrust between the public and police.

While thousands protested peacefully to make their voices heard, others used the opportunity to ignite a wave of hate against all Police; some openly called for the killing of officers.

That was not only disrespectful to the many good officers who risk their lives daily to keep others safe, but it held the potential to encourage a weak mind to act on such a call.

Two officers were later shot dead while sitting in their patrol car by a man who left messages online, indicating what he intended to do.

He later took his own life, while being pursued by Police. The tragedy prompted a former Mayor of New York to comment on the hate-filled rhetoric aimed against the Police by some protesters. He said it was only a matter of time before someone went over the edge and acted on the hatred.

Sometimes going over the edge involves words. The current Mayor of New York found himself in the hot seat with Police after commenting that he cautioned his sons about encountering police.

Some officers were so upset over a perceived lack of support after the chokehold death of a black man, while being arrested by Police in New York, that they turned their backs on the Mayor at the funeral of one of the officers shot in the patrol car.

It was clear that a wall of communication needed to crumble before things could improve.

Police work around the world is extremely challenging, with many losing their lives in carrying out their duties to protect and serve various communities.

Unfortunately no police force is perfect, and when an officer crosses the line in proper procedure it can be seen as a reflection on the entire force, which is grossly unfair. It was heartwarming to hear the daughter of the man who died in New York while being arrested by police.

She said she supported the Police because not all officers are bad people. She also said harming a Police officer in an act of revenge did nothing to bring back her father, or improve the situation.

Others felt there were too many walls between police and minority groups that kept tension boiling in some communities.

Here in Bermuda, it is more than encouraging to see Police working through schools to build a better relationship throughout our communities. There is still much work to be done to eliminate gun crime, but better community support will help to make the walls crumble that keep us too divided as a society in dealing with problems.

There should never be a wall that divides us from important values such as respect, honesty and being truthful.

It will take a full community effort to bring those walls down.

However, they must come down in order to achieve the progress we all seek.