We need to recapture our DNA
After listening to both sides of the House of Assembly on the Throne Speech, it becomes clear that there are polar opposites operating at two extremes of the political spectrum.
Take the issue of sovereignty. The PLP basically said the people are ready and calling for the next step on the road to sovereignty, which may appear in different forms — that of complete separation or that of associated statehood — and the electorate will be faced, as they said, with an unambiguous pathway to choose from after being educated on the topic.
Coming from the opposite side of the House, there came the question: why now? “Why, when, for example, there are already so many people seeking British passports?”
So in classic form, they each appealed to their core audience. The PLP will say, "See, the OBA doesn't want constitutional change and evolution." The OBA then played into the climate of fear and stoked it with: "Of all times, why bring up the subject of independence now when the economy is in tatters?“
Couldn't the OBA instead take on the topic and say, “Yes, we do need to talk about constitutional change and then talk about the areas of reform that lead to greater democracy, more openness, and accountability.” They did not need to talk about sovereignty but could have led the discussion of the people's right to have their input and the Government's need to test the will of the people and to have a clear mandate on the issue of sovereignty. They could have argued about what it means to have a clear mandate, with plenty of examples such as Brexit.
All over the world, countries are having similar problems where most people are in the middle but their political choices are plagued by the extremes at both ends. The recent US mid-term elections were a testimony to the fact that people don't want extreme politics. Their vote revealed that message clearly. Most Bermudians fit in the middle, and poll after poll for years has indicated that the largest segment of voters are in the middle — about 47 percent. They just lack any leadership.
Who would have predicted that the fintech company in the Bahamas would have suffered such a blowout? Who would have predicted that the vertical-farm company — the very one the Government had dealt with — would fail? Essentially two of the economic pillars the PLP has promoted as part of the means to stimulate the economy. Not to suggest that there was no scepticism in any quarters because there was plenty of it. The cryptocurrency market has been over-subscribed and in need of a transfusion of wealthy clients in recent years and the market sensitivity for farming with a population that does not have the critical mass to sustain many new technologies would give any investor reason to pause.
The only thing in the equation that has critical mass is the 30-6 in Parliament which allows this Government to ride out a tsunami. This Premier has the ability, like Donald Trump who said he can shoot a person and still maintain his support. Our leader has demonstrated he can castrate or decapitate members of his Cabinet or Senate, while the others sit on their stools like well-trained poodles, waiting for a treat or to be called to replace the decapitated.
So back to the Throne Speech. Of course the OBA was full of rhetorical solutions, which isn't too hard to do with almost any area of government, particularly now with a declining population and a school problem that no one has been able to fix. Throw any idea up against the wall and it will probably sound better than what's going on.
The problem is that until the country becomes productive again there is no workable solution. Bermuda has faced a cultural change. We are no longer the adventurers who grabbed the world by the horns and spun it to our benefit. We are being tossed by the waves rather than being masters of the sea, which is the legacy of our forbears. Yes, before HSBC, the Bank of Bermuda was a Bermuda-owned global player, as was Butterfield. Their existence was run off from the adventurers and they kept their spirit. Bermuda was on the Northern Desk and comfortably held the position. To excel meant to do better than what was in the northern platform. Now we are swinging to the south while all our people are heading north for refuge. These are sad observations but aren't they true? They are not migrating south in droves.
Even our ideals of things like liberty, freedom and equality are sinking to the levels to the south where there is no concept of equality or freedom, except for the rulers and their hand-picked elites. We no longer aspire to do better than the north — we want to be equal to the south.
Bermuda's saving grace is in its DNA. We are mariners, not farmers. It is our maritime experience that made us great and we will be great again when we stop seeing ourselves as from the plantation. Two thirds of our population for a couple of centuries were engaged with seafaring in one way or another, so much so we had to bring in the Portuguese in to assist with agriculture.
By UN standards we are an indigenous people, a point brought home by a guest of Dr Eva Hodgson from the UN who gave us a view of the UN's position of what constituted indigenous persons. People often confuse aboriginal with indigenous, when indigenous only means first people. Yes, all of us, Black, White and others including our native American blood and all who are descendants of the early generations of original settlers are considered indigenous people by the UN criteria and of one tribe. Accept that status and you already have a seat at the UN and are a part of a wider body and classification of people. We are not alone as an isolated body.
When we return to ourselves, pride in self, which no flag can give us, will be our inheritance. We need to go beyond politics and return to where there is joy, and it´s there already in our souls. Happiness is magnetic, and when we become happy again, we will become brilliant and will attract brilliance.