No room for nastiness
In the middle of an economic storm, Bermuda continues to struggle with a wide range of problems that has affected community life throughout the Island. Despite these challenges, Bermudians are endeavouring to rebuild by engaging in positive ventures in the business sector, and they need to be supported by positive attitudes from political and community leaders.
During any difficult period in most democratic arenas, the atmosphere can become quite charged with nastiness laced with vengeance, as people with differing view points clash over various issues — and, too often, the dark side of human emotions is the front-runner. In recent months, our political atmosphere has been tarnished by incidents that have projected a level of nastiness that has caused great concern as to what values should be held high as a guidepost for a decent society.
While democracy provides the right of freedom of expression, that freedom should never be abused by using the tool in a manner that is destructive and hurtful to others. Freedom of speech does not permit someone to openingly use profanity in public, or make remarks that demean or slander another's character. In other words, freedom of speech is precious and remains a vital asset in democratic jurisdictions. However, in the world of politics, where anger and bitterness are often prevalent, politicians in the heat of the moment allow their emotions and tongues to get ahead of principles they claim to uphold when appealing to voters.
Recent waves of allegations and counter-allegations between the Opposition and the Government are disturbing because most of the electorate are aware that attention shifts from significant public concerns to gaining or holding political ground to please supporters. It is as though each side is waiting for another shot to be fired, aimed purely at political advantage.
Bermuda must move away from being caught up in nasty, destructive exchanges in the process of trying to move the Island forward, no matter how sensitive issues may be. When any leader disregards basic principles in performing their duties as elected officials, it should strike a sour note with those who feel respect and dignity must be not only preserved, but should be held high by all who are elected to serve.
These are standards that mean the difference between moving to the high ground of decency and respect, or choosing to swim in the muddy waters of bitterness, anger and vengeance, which leads only to darker halls of divisiveness. In 2015, it seems incomprehensible that, with the challenges facing Bermuda, and the potential to turn things around, that political conflict is now an additional problem.
It is not the different viewpoints that bother the electorate, but the amount of nastiness that is tossed about as though standards have been simply thrown out the window in a new age of little concern about golden rules about life. If Bermudians learn to respect each other, irrespective of party allegiance, ethnic or religious differences, the community would become stronger and better able to tackle any issue.
Political conflict is an accepted part of any democracy, and most would agree that it is healthy to hear opposing viewpoints while striving for what is best for this Island and the people. However, our Island is a little too small for continuing nastiness and constituents could help in this area by letting any representative know that disrespectful conduct will not be acceptable under any circumstances.
Too many Bermudian families are struggling to make ends meet to have tit-for-tat weekly clashes that often have nothing to do with solving crucial problems of the day. Bermuda needs to turn a page and truly focus on how to bring about a better tomorrow. There is really so much to do that there is little room for nastiness.