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If only Bermuda Day spirit could last for more than a weekend

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Bermudians revelling and entertaining in their camps during Bermuda Day is a particular feature of the long weekend (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The colloquial term “24th of May” and the vanishing term “the Queen’s Birthday” have become embedded local tradition and is deservedly now called Bermuda Day. For people like me, it’s the marathon (half-marathon); for others, it’s the day the boats take to the sea and is universally considered the official start to open-water swimming.

The streets will be lined with everyone knowing their favourite vantage point. In the City of Hamilton, there will be the penultimate street party with the sidewalks lined with campers who have stationed themselves for a daylong festival, usually every year at the same spot that they would stake out the night before.

Bermudians revelling and entertaining in their camps during Bermuda Day is a particular feature of the long weekend (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

After the runners and bikers, the party begins replete with music, marching bands, Gombeys, the new form of dancers (once majorettes) and floats. The real deal is the ability to see folks sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder, sharing food and beverage as the straggler can walk from Front Street to Cedar Avenue — all the way to Bernard Park meeting and greeting an endless stream of friends and family.

The mood is happy and cordial; it’s a sense of community. Then it ends and the building comes crumbling down, and we are back to our divisions and battle stations as of the following Monday.

It begs the question, although perhaps a naive one: why can’t we always be as happy and sharing?

On Bermuda Day, we come as close as we could be as a human community. The simple answer is on Bermuda Day all the roles are suspended. There are no ranks; it’s just a colony of people enjoying food and laughter. Understood properly, it represents a potential of when egos and roles are relaxed.

If we could grasp the idea that we are first human and that the other characters we take on are in reality just roles. If we could, then we can adjust to the idea that roles need to be perfected and the greatest tool for that is criticism or critical analysis. In other words, criticism does not have to be an attack on the person; it may, if taken correctly, be a way to enhance the role.

Yes, it would take a great soul to take the position that whatever role they carry is just a function of that role and therefore any criticism should be entertained as a reflection of performance in that role, and not personal. Roles need to be perfected and the road to that perfection is paved with the observations and critical analysis that often come through media and other people. Great souls lay their humanity nakedly before their people and channel criticism towards perfecting the role. Poor souls, on the other hand, attempt to silence criticism, and even attack or destroy critics if they could.

As long as there is an egocentric environment, it will be a test of ego, not necessarily a test of logic. The ethos in such world is to fight fire with fire. True, not all criticism is from goodwill; too often it is to dethrone, embarrass or otherwise accentuate the one making the criticism.

There comes a time when someone has to just sit still to evaluate incoming data and draw the best out of that data to make decisions that are not protecting their ego but are for the universal good. Poor leadership takes criticism as a personal attack; good leadership is able to see the role and absorb the criticism by setting aside the personal dynamic and use the criticism to perfect the role. A free press is an absolute nemesis to a poor soul.

Bermuda is now a multicultural and diverse society, and holidays such as Bermuda Day are the best facilitator and environment to transfer the best of our native culture in a spirit of happiness and sharing. We have at least two events that we can call our own, Cup Match being the other. When things are done with “intention”, it is always more effective. Holidays can be a ritual that help society to get past the egocentric ideas that are the root cause of division.

We should encourage our leadership to take the opportunity that these heritage moments provide to promote the true spirit of our humanity. It may assist in allowing the sharing and laughter to prevail a little longer as we carry the intent forward, and not let it die immediately the day after.

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Published May 31, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated May 31, 2022 at 7:50 am)

If only Bermuda Day spirit could last for more than a weekend

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