For a functional independence
After watching the funeral of the late MP Walton Brown Jr, I am mindful of an old comment put on fallen soldiers’ graves: “Let my death have more meaning than my life”.
I listened carefully to all the commentaries, and, indeed, they inspired hope of a greater Bermuda; I could almost hear an inaudible collective amen from the audience.
I heard the word “sovereignty” mentioned in his speech and the call for a “true” democracy.
We may each disagree on which comes first in the order or the timeliness, but we won’t disagree on both as being noble pursuits.
My argument has always been that the principles that underlay a democracy should be first.
The United States as a system is perhaps the highest form of a democracy that the world has, as an example and experiment.
In spite of the policies, driven at times with their administrations that are blatantly wrong, the system itself is credible because it has the ability to correct itself. Leaders can go astray or even fall afoul of the law and the Constitution, but the checks and balances with the rulebook that provides oversight, and the mechanisms that give the people the power to bring justice to any in power, are firmly in place.
We don’t need to be American to understand or implement the values and principles that support their democracy.
We need the human courage to put our humanity first and the lives of others as having the right to be a full and complete equal in the affairs of governance.
When equality is the basis of our determination and seeking the ideals and systems that allow such equality and freedoms to flow, only then is the idea of sovereignty dignified.
Sovereignty, on its own, is a blank sheet of paper without a definition of its real existence.
To sit at the table of nations is a distinct honour, but when truth is told, that table has also been attended by many dishonourable nations with abhorrent systems of governance.
It was good to hear the theme of our premier David Burt’s comments at the funeral, centred around the question of what type of legacy would one want to leave behind?
It was good because it was couched in the notion of one living to and sacrificing your life to achieving an ideal democracy or making a better world.
My hope is that the follow-on from the fallen comrade will lead to a fuller discussion, that engages the entire island, on what it means to be a fuller democracy and how we as a country can exemplify the making of a better world.
The road towards democracy is not based on who can muster the greatest power, but rather should be based on yielding to input and bringing the debate to the highest level of intellect and cross-dialogue the country can muster to make an informed and relevant choice.
Can we take Walton’s desire to see an independent Bermuda to the next level, which is not simply the status of independence, but what in fact the principles of an independent Bermuda would be built on.
What will be the full political rights of an individual, starting from what are their voting rights, which includes the right to stand?
Will political parties be publicly accountable to the electorate and how?
What are the mechanisms for oversights and, again, what is the public or electorate’s rights and impacts on the role of oversights?
In short, there should be no interest in a drive towards a sovereignty which, by design, is not a democracy, but instead is, by default, an autocracy.
We do want passion in that which fuels us towards sovereignty, but we should want a passion girded by intellect and wisdom.
I want to see a Bermudian flag also, but more importantly, I want a flag that has a virtuous meaning, behind which is the emblem that stands for our democratic ideals and pursuits of truth and nobility.
I want a flag for whose meaning I am prepared to fight, if not die, for.
In a world that is increasingly co-dependent and interconnected, we should all want our idea of independence to mean that we stand equally, as a capable, self-reliant jurisdiction able to compete and economically thrive.
Yes, I would want functional independence, not dysfunctional isolation.
The march towards any format of sovereignty should not be a “protest” movement; rather, it should be a “progress” movement that engages the entire public to make a mutual step towards self-determination.
As was the case with Martin Luther King, who said “I have a dream”, that was left to future generations to fulfil.
In similar fashion, we can attest that Walton Brown Jr had a dream that is now left to present and future generations to fulfil.
May God give us the wisdom to pursue those aims with nobility.
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