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A brave new wired world

(File photograph by Akil Simmons)

All nasty comments aside, perplexed readers wondered what I meant when I wrote of the need for reinvention for 2021 in my last column. Fair enough folks. It was in the context of our battle to contain and to defeat Covid-19 — where and when possible. I commended the approach of: Respond, Recover, Reinvent.

None of this was ever going to be easy. We know that from all we see and hear about elsewhere, as well as here at home. To say that the effort has to be made is a gross understatement. Our government has been out front leading the charge, but ultimately it falls to us, individually and as a community, to aid in the recovery by responding responsibly. That, too, will be a challenge.

As for reinvention, the Chinese symbol for crisis better illustrates the point, composed as it is of two characters for the words “danger” and “opportunity”.

The silver lining is the opportunity with which we have been presented. Covid-19 is just the spark that could set us alight.

Some of those opportunities are obvious.

We have developed and adapted to some strong protocols for good hygiene, to say the least. Some are worth keeping. We can never know what is coming next, effective vaccine or not. We have long since passed the day when we were an island unto ourselves in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Nor do we want to be. Our very existence and future depend on the outside world, whether in the form of people, business or capital.

When it comes to tourism, there may be some advantage, too, in being a safe harbour in a global world. But the promotion of Bermuda to this end will require more than just the work of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, but an island-wide, unified effort that all of us get behind. A throwback, if you will, to the days of the “Bermuda is Me” campaign, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Our greatest resource has always been our people and not just our natural beauty.

We have already seen what such promotion can do for the development of business, and injection of money, with the issue of those one-year “Work from Bermuda remotely” permits — and full marks here to the Government for moving quickly on that front.

We have exploited the advantages of modern technology. Businesses and consumers have proved that they are able to adapt. We have adjusted to the new means of shopping and dining. It underscores the need for the island to be totally wired with the best and safest hardware available, and for our people to be technologically proficient.

This is the future in the brave new wired world.

Zoom meetings, e-mails and all forms of social media prompt us to be more focused in what we say and do. We need to perfect those skills in and out of our schools: train, retrain, and retrain again and again.

We need not stop there. There is the opportunity to reform and to dispense with the old way of doing things and to usher in the new.

The legislature is a good place to start and from which to lead. For those who do tune in, the broadcast proceedings show a marked difference in approach and presentation that strikes me as more productive and positive with less performance.

Now let’s see that translate in those cross-party parliamentary committees that do our business, like the Public Accounts Committee, which should get on with doing its job of real-time accountability and, in so doing, light the way.

This is no big ask, but a national imperative.

Incidentally, these ideas are meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. Readers will come up with their own, and on that note I end this column with the same question as I did in the last: what role will you play in the reinvention?

Here’s to a happier new year for all.

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Published December 30, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 30, 2020 at 12:42 pm)

A brave new wired world

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