We need to catch ourselves before we wreck ourselves

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  • Growing tensions: about 500 BIU members and members of the general public, show their support for Tweed (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Growing tensions: about 500 BIU members and members of the general public, show their support for Tweed (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

No type of science is needed to sense that emotions and tempers are boiling over an issue that has caused the drawing of verbal swords at a time when Bermuda should be mature enough to avoid sinking our island ship. But sink it we are in the process of doing, amid a confrontational storm over decisions from the bridge.

There are so many angry words being tossed about that many people caught in the centre are bewildered and confused. Here in 2017, we are still unable to sit and discuss a sensitive issue without resorting to tactics that could affect every Bermudian negatively.

With many people, it is not a question of taking sides. Everyone knows there are those who support groups without question. That is a direct result of deeply embedded attitudes attached to our history of social injustice, as too often the struggle to move to the higher ground of diversity has kept divisiveness as a major obstacle.

In most cases, whenever there is disagreement in the political arena, and the matter is highly sensitive, it seems to trigger age-old emotions connected to our racial past. And in the heat of exchanges with waves of allegations and counter-allegations clouding the picture, trying to focus on the issue itself can be impossible.

The present tension over the Government’s rejection of a work permit that it maintains was the result of the applicant falling short in requirements to comply with immigration law has ignited a furious reaction from certain sections of the community.

Included was an open threat to derail the America’s Cup, an event slated for May and June that is expected to project Bermuda to the world. With anger at a fever pitch level, and some people reluctant to discuss the matter for fear of losing friends or damaging family relations, it is high time to think of cooling things down so that calm thinking can surface.

I am reminded of a Men’s Day sermon in the 1940s preached at the St Paul AME Church by a Reverend Owens.

Even as a young boy, the sermon caught my attention when he began with these words: “Think, think, think.” He emphasised that, wherever he travelled, his goal was to make friends because, as he put it, “you never know when you are going to need them”.

The essence of that sermon seems as relevant today as it was then. Bermuda has since made significant strides in attempting to eradicate conditions that create divisiveness throughout our communities.

Even when socially and racially unjust policies were removed to pave the way for a Bermuda where fairness and equal rights would be the path to follow, leftover emotions from that period are not easily erased. Our political climate today still reflects those sentiments that surface quickly when anger and emotion override efforts to seek solutions with reason and calm thinking.

Bermuda and its leaders in government, including the Opposition and the unions, need to really cool things down before we run headlong into the proverbial iceberg — and we all know how they ended for the Titanic. No right-thinking Bermudian wants that.

The Bermudian people, and we mean all Bermudians, can sense when things appear to be slipping to a point where our infrastructure and stability as a progressive island could be seriously harmed by actions that break down rather than build. The people will need to decide how to respond to that threat.

There are times when a dispute will require crow to be consumed by both sides before moving on. Bermuda needs to cool it because there are children in our schools studying and playing together, while preparing to take their places later in what we hope will be a better society, where all problems are tackled with a collective responsibility.

There is much to be sorted out as we go forward, but at no stage should the island be held hostage by any group over disagreements.

Many families have strained relationships over the situation with the Reverend Nicholas Tweed because, even within families, support for and against certain policies can run deep.

There is still time to catch ourselves, but the people will need to urge our leaders to cool it and think more before escalating farther an atmosphere that most Bermudians are more than concerned about.

We really need to cool it.

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Published Jan 5, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 5, 2017 at 10:02 am)

We need to catch ourselves before we wreck ourselves

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