’Tis the time not to let our guard down
There are still a number of shopping days left before the big day, and as the pace of hustle and bustle quickens, with people caught up in numerous pre-holiday activities, there is a tendency to become a little less alert in taking proper precautions to ensure that valuables are secured at home and in vehicles.
The Christmas festive spirit is wonderful and usually can be felt throughout the community, with complete strangers exchanging warm greetings as though they were old friends.
It is a time of the year that most people look forward to, and for a few days the bright light of generosity turns the Island into one big neighbourhood. However, despite the glow of celebrations, it would be a mistake to assume that people with criminal intent have slipped into a coma during the holiday period. We all know better.
Every year at about this time, police urge the public to take extra care in securing their homes before heading out, especially since criminals never take a vacation. An insecure home could be a target for those seeking valuables unlawfully. It is a reality that every community is confronted with, although some areas are more vulnerable than others.
This is certainly not a subject that brings great comfort at a time when people are looking to participate in the joy of sharing, which touches many hearts in different ways.
I am reminded of a professor in the film The Bishop's Wife, made in 1947 and starring Loretta Young, David Niven and Cary Grant. The professor, who never aspired to anything religious, told the bishop's wife, Julie, played by Young, that despite his stance, having a tree reminded him of his childhood and that it was a good time for looking backwards.
Without actually looking backwards, reflecting on the past is often helpful in assessing how to cope with challenges in a modern world where so much emphasis is placed on material things. Bermuda, while still maintaining its unique charm, has over the years seen an increase in illegal drug activity, violent crime and road safety issues because too many disregard the danger of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
As families move about visiting one another, the risk of mishap through an inconsiderate motorist failing to comply with safety rules is high, and this calls for extreme alertness by those who choose to drive or ride with the safety of others in mind. It is letting our guard down, when someone obviously intoxicated through overindulgence, is allowed to take to the road on any type of vehicle by relatives or friends — an act that places others in danger.
Hopefully in the new year, our legislators will adopt a get-tough policy that would send a shock wave through the motoring public: that the penalty for driving under the influence just may result in a mandatory five-year ban. That would make people think twice before embarking on such a potentially dangerous venture.
However, for the moment, the islandwide community needs to be vigilant in helping to protect each other from those who choose to disobey basic rules and laws of the land. An official with the United States Department of Homeland Security put it best when he said, with the eyes of the public assisting in detecting activity out of line with basic rules of behaviour, authorities have a better chance of staying on top of problems.
The same attitude is essential even here in Bermuda, and neighbourhood watch programmes are good examples of approaching these matters collectively.
Meanwhile, no matter how safe things may appear, we should never let our guard down in trying to keep our entire Bermudian community safe and healthy. There could be no better gift for our children than an Island where they can move about without fear, in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.