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Tackling the emotional undertow

Hidden danger: Bermuda is blessed with natural beauty such as Southlands Beach but people should beware dangerous undercurrents. Oour columnist sees such undercurrents as a metaphor for social dangers

Bermuda has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and it is with great pride that when we promote our amenities to boost tourism, our shoreline beauty is a winner every time. However, even with nature’s wonderful gift, at times hidden beneath the waves is an undertow that holds the potential for mishap if mishandled.

Many of us have spent many years on these beaches playing in the waves and having a great time without ever experiencing the real power of an undertow. I recall moments as a youngster when I could feel a retreating wave trying to take me out with it. But, in most cases, I was close enough to shore to scramble back without a second thought. We were usually taught, should we find ourselves being pulled out into the deep, that it was best to relax and wait, since even the undertow has a weak spot.

As we all know, there have been unfortunate incidents over the years when people caught in an undertow panicked with deadly consequences. It should be pointed out that in most cases, during stormy conditions the risk is greatest. Otherwise, our beautiful beaches are not only most enjoyable, but with knowledge of the potential undertow, they can be a safe and a memorable delight.

Life itself can have emotional undertows that should also be handled with great caution in trying to avoid being swept in the wrong direction. A lesson when caught in an undertow while swimming is to keep a cool head, if possible, in order to preserve energy until the pull weakens. This tactic, which maybe easier said than done, opens the door for rescue. The undertow that bothers most today has nothing to do with our lovely South Shore beaches. There appears to be an undertow of anger, mistrust and divisiveness swirling in our political arena to a degree, where unless greater caution and coolness is exercised, progress for the Island economically and socially will be hampered.

The march to a diverse worldwide society is unstoppable, and even here in Bermuda the clock cannot be turned back to the dark ages of social and economic injustice. Yet there is that undertow of divisiveness that we as a people are having trouble shaking off in order to embrace a new day of tackling our problems collectively.

Almost at every turn there is someone ready to draw a line in the sand over this or that issue. We have yet to learn from the ocean undertow experience.

There have been occasions when a small group of swimmers have fallen victim to that invisible undertow. Racial, religious or political differences mean nothing in the struggle to survive. The undertow has no favours.

Bermuda needs to be careful in tackling our emotional undertows because fighting among ourselves will always give the undertow the advantage.

The Government and unions need to work through their various issues, aware that an emotional undertow poorly handled could put everyone in jeopardy.

One does not have to look far to see the world has become a very troubled place, with police in America facing an undertow of anti-police attitudes, which has made their job extra dangerous. Desperate people in other regions daily continue to risk their lives to escape savage military confrontations. We have much to gain by not allowing any emotional undertow to stifle efforts to make further progress during these testing times.

There is far too much at stake to permit an emotional undertow of political or social conflicts to prevent us from moving to a new page in our quest for what is best for Bermuda.