We must become agents of a diverse and inclusive world
It has been said that history repeats itself because the nature of people never changes. Human behaviour is a labyrinth with patterns to our behaviour from which we can discover something about our tendencies and emerge free from its cyclic hold. In that regard, it is beneficial to become old and able to witness personal, national and even global cycles.
I never saw the rise and fall of Hitler or the Nazi movement, and certainly not the fall of the Roman or the Islamic empires. However, during the span of my lifetime, I knew a period when it was still being said: “The sun never sets on the British Empire”.
It was Rule Britannia on one side of the Atlantic under the Union Jack, while on the other side it was the striped star-spangled banner singing, the Battle Hymn of the Republic — “Glory, glory, hallelujah, his truth is marching on”.
Today, the sun at times barely lasts eight hours a day over Britain and the truth in America stopped marching, as fake news and alternative reality have become the new truth.
I have truly in my lifetime seen the fall of all the infamous and even great empires that have adorned the world for the past couple of thousand years through cycles of events happening in my time.
Movements have their labyrinths also — whether it was the second or third generation after Jesus, or Muhammad, the American Revolution or any reformation including the Progressive Group and the ideas leading to responsible government in Bermuda. They all had their first generation of idea-makers; however, they were inspired or informed.
They all began with a purpose or a goal and oftentimes an adjoining methodology, which after each successive generation had difficulty retaining or even finding its originality. In most cases, its successor's influences and affluence became their greatest obsession.
Put in simple progression, at first there is the purity of the ideals associated with sacrifice and struggle, at times with pain and even the ultimate sacrifice. Then comes success, accompanied by wealth and affluence. Although nothing is inherently wrong with success or wealth, that sense of opulence and power too often has consumed the minds of leaders, stripping away qualities such as compassion, empathy and even idealism.
When leaders become contaminated by opulence, they tend to lose their humanity, which then leads to their downfall. Because, to retain power and to continue to enjoy opulence requires control — any insubordination must be crushed.
All organisations, even churches, are tested when they have successful programmes. To maintain the cashflow, they can become tyrannical and against those advocating principle, even if by unethical means.
OK, so I have been a bit philosophical and most people like to eat meat; some prefer raw meat. The days of struggle or even idealism in Bermuda have long past, and we should be in a revisionist mode of analysing any missteps with a view to perfecting our pathways going forward, such as in the American context “towards a more perfect union”.
The attitude of leaders today is, “protect the position of power or the booty” — annihilate dissent. That attitude creates division, the type that cuts through even family and undermines the ability of any country in need of unity to survive, let alone thrive. Countries rarely fail from outside forces; it is the elements from within that cause ruin.
Many years ago, a group of men and a woman stood up in a central committee meeting and told one of the founders: “You are the problem in this party. It's you with your attitude that is holding up the progress, and not the people you revile”.
They were expelled and, effectively, it broke the party, resulting in it spending nearly 40 years in the wilderness.
Today is no different from 55 years ago, and if there was a song that typifies what the mode should be today, it would be “let them in, let them in” or “bringing in the sheaves”.
The message should be: “Go ye into the highways and the byways”. This is not the era for “me and my mates” or “us in the room”. This is the time for everyone, including the neighbour that you don't know and their children. We must evolve from egocentric or ethnocentric appreciation and become more world-centric. Even nation-centric would be an evolution from where we are now.
The times calling on leadership are not unlike the epic biblical struggle, where the message that the Christians received coming from Paul was that the word from Jesus was not only meant for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. It was no longer ethnocentric and meant only for the Jews; the message was world-centric and to the world.
We must bring an end to the days of looking around the room to make sure it is filled with people who look and think just like me. We must raise our sensibilities to become agents and representatives of a diverse and inclusive world where we jointly participate in making a better tomorrow.