Bermuda must grow up emotionally
It really matters little which party is in power here in the delusional Bermuda islands. There is nowhere quite like Bermuda, as most of us used to proudly say. There is still nowhere quite like Bermuda, but not for any reasons we can be proud of.
An economy unparalleled with any others, we reaped an embarrassment of riches that once trickled down to the vast majority of Bermudians. But somewhere along the way, we sold our soul to the highest bidder, shot and feasted on the golden goose and today have an underclass of Bermudians that cannot afford to live in the only home they know.
While our history book is tainted with the abhorrent practice of slavery and its insidious legacy of institutional racism that many prefer to deny, our brothers and sisters in the ironically named “Land of the Free” still face each day with more oppression, discrimination and fear than most do in other first world nations. See #blacklivesmatter.
But we also can boast one of the most integrated societies in the world, and both black male and female leaders ... the island’s demographics are slowly starting to play out as they should in leadership roles, but there’s still a ways to go. Positive change for universal equality may be as slow as the molasses in our black rum, but at least it has been moving in the right direction. Until now.
With too many lawyers holding political office — this was the sole topic of one of my former weekly columns in the Mid-Ocean News — why, oh why are they universally unable to understand the law; constitutional law? Both governments have now passed laws that violate basic human rights tenets. The Progressive Labour Party made a discriminatory law against all Bermudian property owners when we were all denied the ability to sell our property to any non-Bermudian, irrespective of the price or ARV.
I wrote a piece that explained the economics of the law: how it devalued all Bermudian homes and increased the value of all properties owned by non-Bermudians. Of course, this was the law of unintended consequences coming into play: the measure was a political one devoid of any serious thought or consultation. Not only was this law discriminatory against Bermudians, it backfired spectacularly when Oprah Winfrey expressed a serious interest in a Tucker’s Town property on so-called “Billionaires’ Row” and was denied because it was owned by a Bermudian.
Our government of the day, the PLP, had put up a roadblock that prevented the potential first and only black ownership on that stretch of high-value real estate. Oprah took her $30 million, $40 million or $50 million and invested it elsewhere; I believe, Barbados.
Alan Marshall, the owner of the high-value property, thankfully had the resources to challenge the law and, as expected, was winning all the way to the Privy Council until the Government knew it would lose and the law would have to be struck off, permanently. Instead of facing this inevitability, the PLP settled with Mr Marshall and left the unconstitutional law on the books — too prideful to admit its mistake. Then in comes the One Bermuda Alliance and does the smart thing, the right thing — the law is revoked.
Was this a sign of wisdom to come in its first term? Hell, no. Last week, the OBA followed suit and penned a political amendment to the Human Rights Act that is equally wrong and unconstitutional, simply for voter optics. The entire referendum on same-sex marriages and civil unions has been an expensive exercise in political pandering and cowardice for most. It is sad and quite illogical for the vast majority of Bermudians who are descendants of slaves, who are rightfully vociferous in their celebration of emancipation, who ensure that our children (and parents) never forget our shameful past, who claim to abhor oppression, who ordinarily are champions of equal rights to all to then turn around and deny the rights they fight to preserve and now enjoy to another class of discriminated Bermudians. Or is it?
Psychologically speaking, this kind of thinking is not uncommon, but it’s also not right. There’s a sad but prevalent phenomenon in the abused becoming the abusers and it is playing out here. From a statistical standpoint, most abusers of others are former victims of abuse. So to see a group of people whose ancestors were denied the basics of all human rights and civil liberties, once these wrongs were righted to use their power to oppress another group ... well, it’s wrong on so many levels, but it’s also sadly predictable.
The more emotionally healthy one is, the more we lose our fear of what we don’t like, know or understand, the more we are able to evolve as a human being. We just need more of us to grow up emotionally and to have faith that God created all of us equally — the whites, blacks, heterosexuals and gays, and if we fight for each other as much as we seem to be able to selfishly fight for our own personal agendas and prejudices, we would truly become a great nation.
Once that evolves, we can move forward with an intuitive ability to handle the big issues of our time: education, crime, recession.
There is a frightening similarity between the right-wing racists in the United States who can give no intellectual argument against same-sex marriage but can parrot biblical passages that happen to support their bigotry — and those particular passages can be found close to those that support slavery, inter alia — and the religious factions in Bermuda that agree with them.
But, sadly, with the results of the referendum and the political spinelessness of the Government, Bermuda has just devolved from recalcitrant teenager in need of guidance and direction to a foot-stamping toddler who cannot be left unsupervised for a moment. We can change that tide, but until we do and until we, as a nation can grow the hell up emotionally, we have a long way before we even deserve to be self governing; we are too immature. Those who continue to deny equality and freedom for others do not deserve it for themselves.
“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions that which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions”
— Albert Einstein
In my last writing, I challenged all of my fellow Bermudians to locate their integrity and become one of Einstein’s few. Clearly few, and even fewer in the OBA leadership, were up for that challenge.