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Every moment is a revelation

Soul singer James Brown, who had a hit with I’m Black and I’m Proud

For us baby boomers, the 1960s was a memorable era. The assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) was followed by the song Abraham, Martin and John sung by Dion and so soulfully rendered by Moms Mabley in 1969. The era was filled with the new sound of Motown, the Beatles and revolutionary street poetry called rap.

This was a new time of an emergent freedom from customary conservative values and standards upheld by almost all elements of society. Even the wall sitters at one time dressed with an air of elegance and speech which could hardly be differentiated from that of the educated. Then came the “Hippies” and then the funk and the hip slang and etiquette that introduced a new ethical standard called being “hip”. You were either in or out by the new code being generated on the streets.

For Bermuda it meant “Nelly’s Walk”, the gates of the Bermuda public library and of course, Court Street, where the youth would assemble and prank. It also was a time of identity, particularly among the black hitherto negro, who for the first time was accepting his colour with pride typified by songs like I’m Black and I’m Proud, sung by James Brown.

On another level the whites were abandoning historical bigotry with songs like All You Need is Love and Imagine and Give Peace a Chance.

Revolution was in every sector as the Patty Hearst crowd took to bombings, while the blacks clad with new Afros and black leather jackets put fashion to their own stance on the battlefield of freedom.

If the 1960s was an outbreak of freedom, the 1970s saw the search for real identity. It was something one day we can look back on and have a healthy chuckle when we see how desperate and out of touch we were in our search for identity.

You could go into a black community and find us dressed like a Chinese martial artist, an African from the Sudan or Nigeria, or an Arab or an Afghani, all in the same neighbourhood. Be yourself meant for the most part, anything but European. It never seemed to dawn on our conscience that no one wanted to look like us.

Vestiges of that era and the symptoms of lack of identity still exist, but increasingly through education and globalisation the idea of self is slowly shifting towards the development of a form of universal consciousness where people can take in all the elements of their environment and express their own nativity with originality and shine as an authentic being among all others on the planet.

In that regards there are only two religions, if we consider religion as the fashioner of culture. There is the religion of guilt, which asks the soul to obey its edits or burn in a hell, or at best offer salvation through being another, to protect from your sinful self. Or the religion of self-development and character-building to allow the divine light within, that is truly your heritage, shine throughout every aspect of your existence.

The journey is ours and as a complete society there are tales and signposts along the road, which are valuable lessons that are best heeded and oblige experiences to be shared.

The younger generation needs to be connected with their elders and the elders need them for continuance.

It is important to realise that life is a potent experience where every moment is a special revelation and unique. We should not disrespect this great gift by not cherishing the life we have been allowed to experience.

Our life is no less glorious than any period experienced on earth. It’s us who have to recognise its significance and, like a necklace of pearls, make the connection so as we become the link towards a better and better world.