Dismont: Politicians must show leadership
Martha Dismont has challenged Bermuda's politicians to demonstrate the leadership behaviour needed to tackle a multitude of social problems.
The executive director of Family Centre noted that Michael Dunkley has continuously called for Bermudians to come together to overcome the Island's challenges.
However, she said: “If they are the leaders, they have to demonstrate leadership behaviour.
“We're looking for individuals in the community who will be models of the leadership behaviour that is necessary. We're all looking for that and at the end of the day to get us all depolarised and get us together we need emerging leaders to come forward.
“So it would be nice and helpful for our parliamentarians to give us an understanding of what that is.”
Mrs Dismont said she had heard the Premier say, “let's all work together” — a sentiment he has repeatedly expressed, including in a televised speech to the nation on April 27.
As he issued a rallying call to Bermudians, urging them to come together to overcome challenges faced by the Island, he said: “Let's use this time to come together, to work together, exercising tolerance and respect.”
Mrs Dismont now wants all parliamentarians and adults to step up and set a good example.
“All the adults in the community need to think about leadership, because if you're a strong leader and you're taking care of your child, you'll be a responsible parent,” she said.
Mrs Dismont's comments came as the Family Centre celebrates its 25th anniversary — and there is a growing demand for the organisation's services.
Yesterday, The Royal Gazette reported her call for Bermuda to agree on a set of core values that will help determine how to address the Island's social problems.
By outlining Bermuda's fundamental beliefs in a national plan, Mrs Dismont said they could become goals that the Island can then collectively work towards. But Mrs Dismont believes that strengthening relationships is the key to solving problems such as unaddressed trauma, poor education and a lack of life skills.
According to Mrs Dismont, these problems were not caused by the recession — in fact, she said, the economic downturn exposed underlying social weaknesses.
Offering an example, she said: “If you're not strongly tied to your wife, you lose your job and all of a sudden the relationship breaks down.”
She referenced a comment by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, who quoted investor Warren Buffett: “It's only when the tide goes out that you find out who has been swimming naked.”
Mrs Dismont said there were a lot of uneducated people in Bermuda in the past but “they could get along”, with men, for example, often getting well-paid construction jobs when they graduated from high school.
“Now we're in the 21st century and you have to be educated and the tide has gone out and you're not ready — so we are an unprepared nation,” she said.
“We have to rebuild our relationships, we have to strengthen our education system and we have to make sure we take care of those who are without skills.”
She added: “I've always said, it's not what happens to us, it's what we do about what happens.
“If we were strongly tied together as a country, even with all that has gone on, we would have been able to deal with this problem.”