We’re all Bermudians, let’s work together

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  • Tense day: protesters outside Parliament on December 2 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Tense day: protesters outside Parliament on December 2 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda is facing a wide range of challenges in our cultural and business infrastructure, and there are growing concerns that unless there is a higher standard of respect and collective transparency from our leaders, our journey into the new frontier will be hampered by our inability to find reason on critical issues that affect the lives of all Bermudians.

Pushing the pause button on the last parliamentary session was a positive move after that awful day on December 2, 2016 when protesters against the Government’s proposal for a new airport, scheduled for debate, gathered in front of Parliament in what was billed as a peaceful demonstration.

However, there was tension in the air as protesters set up a human shield to prevent Members of Parliament from entering the building. Appeals by police for protesters not to block the entrance went unheeded, and scuffles ensued, with police responding with pepper spray to gain control.

The incident itself had the potential for exploding into something far more damaging to our island stability.

Bermuda should never be held to ransom by a display of disdain for civil order, since our democracy provides avenues to sort out problems, no matter how sensitive they may be.

Now, after attempts to let the dust settle to get a clear picture of what happened, all of Bermuda needs to send a message to leaders on both sides of the political divide that the electorate expects nothing short of civil order and respect in dealing with protest.

The same could be said for the police, who are duty-bound to protect peaceful protesters, while also having to deal with some who can become quite disruptive by not following police instructions. That can be a dilemma for any administration.

With Parliament not sitting again until February — an agreement reached between the Speaker of the House, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition —it appears that both the One Bermuda Alliance and the Progressive Labour Party have a period to reflect on what happened in the interest of closing ranks to ensure that there is no repeat when sessions resume.

Disagreements, a part of any democracy, will still be there, but what they should be hoping for is that members keep respect and decency in mind at all times, especially when emotions begin to override control of setting a good example for young people, who also may be looking to serve their country one day at parliamentary level.

When Parliament meets again, most Bermudians will want representatives to be fully aware of how important it is to work collectively in expanding tourism, which should benefit all of Bermuda, and the continuing efforts to keep our international business thriving. The year 2017, with the America’s Cup slated as one of the highlights to boost the island’s image globally, is a part of our new frontier, and success depends on how close we all work together to show the world why Bermuda is very special.

There will be bumps in the road at times, and that is to be expected. However, if we think of ourselves as Bermudians first, even when we have disagreements, we will find the road getting much smoother.

When things go wrong, instead of pointing fingers, we need to extend a helping hand in trying to find solutions.

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Published Dec 17, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 16, 2016 at 10:25 pm)

We’re all Bermudians, let’s work together

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