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We must rebuild our value infrastructure

Work scheduled: an illustration of Bermuda's new airport

There are few people who would not admit that the building of a new airport for Bermuda is long overdue, and without action now our main gate of entrance could be destroyed overnight by a ferocious hurricane, leaving the Government and the people in a state of despair as to how to recover so that we may keep the island as a viable business and tourist attraction. No one in their right mind would want that to happen.

Although work on the new airport is scheduled to begin next month, the journey thus far has not been without heated controversy over the arrangements involving the Canadian company Aecon, which will oversee the project. However, there is a consensus that with the arrangements in place to safeguard Bermudian involvement throughout the venture, and to promote opportunities for the future, the focus should be on that new gate to handle the next chapter of our island growth for generations yet unborn.

There is, however, another area of community life that is also in need of urgent rebuilding, and that is our value infrastructure, which has been slowly deteriorating in recent decades. In that social corrosion, the family unit has become a casualty to a degree where political and community leaders are scrambling to find ways to halt what seems a pattern of antisocial behaviour and violent crime. Unchecked, this could threaten our future.

We know bricks, cement and steel, plus modern technology, will be implemented in constructing the new airport. But rebuilding our value infrastructure will require a unified approach in trying to rescue the family, which to use baseball analogy is the home plate for teaching values to live by in facing various challenges along the river of life.

That river today has become a rushing tide of cyberspace activity with so much material, good and bad, flowing 24/7 that some families have adopted the “salmon swimming upstream” posture in hoping to steer young minds towards more positive endeavours.

Just as any structure needs a good foundation to withstand the elements of nature, the mind with proper guidance during the early stages of life will be better equipped to make decisions relating to keeping alive good values, such as common courtesy, respect for others, discipline and a desire to build a safe society.

We would be burying our heads in the sand if a blind eye is turned to the serious illegal drugs problem that continues to eat away at our infrastructure, with many families having to cope with issues that often remain behind closed doors to shield or protect relatives or friends. In a small, tightly knit society, that can be an extremely challenging problem for the authorities. Yet it is an issue that must be openly discussed throughout Bermuda because only with everyone involved can there be any hope for change.

While the America’s Cup is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, with sailing craft that seem more like spaceships, there is something to learn when it comes to the teamwork involved. The ocean at times can be unforgiving for any vessel and sailors caught in storms can testify to that. In fact, Bermuda had its early beginning as a result of a storm. With the America’s Cup, each competing craft will be under a highly trained crew, fully aware that success or failure will depend on how well they perform as a team when the going gets rough. Each crew member is looking out for the other should something go wrong. That is what teamwork is about. The world will also be watching Bermuda’s performance.

Successful societies anywhere require equal commitment in dealing with day-to-day problems that exist even under the best of circumstances. It teaches that early guidance, and an education along with proper values could make our island ship stronger in meeting the many obstacles of modern life today. Public meetings and discussions must continue on the subject of our value structure because to ignore crucial issues will be creating new problems for the next generation.

The future worldwide is challenging and Bermuda is no exception. However, in our favour, we have a small population that should enable us to think as a team even when we have disagreements. The best of families experience that. We must recognise divisiveness as the enemy as we attempt to move forward. That will be crucial in trying to rebuild our value infrastructure.

That could very well be the difference between success or failure in keeping Bermuda on the right course.