What makes Bermuda unique? Some would say itís the people, others will say itís the pastel-coloured houses and white roofs. The list would go on, so let me include that itís the coastline that has been shaped by the millions of years of wave action, currents and hurricanes. What remains as our coastline after constant bashing and subtle sculpturing is the unique geological shape we call the isles of Bermuda.
Our shape is truly indicative of life, where strong forces have rooted out and separated the weak from the sturdy. Bermudaís shape is analogous to some principle factors and many valuable lessons to observe, such as how fire burns and destroys, but it also forges metal out of rock, just as adversity can refine the character of humans.
When living is easy and wealth abounds, everyone claims to be your best friend and even your confidant. Winning is easy, success is awesome, but we know the true champions are those covered with scars. When the money goes, the so-called friends and the confidants are not to be found. So, too, is presumed love, which burns so bright in the morning, but wilts and melts away in the heat of the noonday sun.
In 1978, I met some Somalians and was so impressed by their warmth and display of love for each other that I may have made the comment that I had met some of the finest people on Earth, because I certainly felt it.
Soon after, the Soviets pulled out of Somalia and their economy fell upon its head, and circumstances for the people became extremely dire and every trace of their glorious humanity I witnessed turned into savagery. Within a few years, they began to resemble the worst people on Earth.
As the fortunes in Bermuda have changed, it has had an effect on every element of our lives. Principles of life now must be seen in reverse. The strength of a business, which cannot pay a bonus or overtime or the well-deserved wage, is tested. The husband or the wife who can no longer bring home the quota will be tested. The child who expected the motorbike at 16 will be tested. These challenges will either make the community and all its subsets stronger, or break it apart with a fury.
Politics and leadership are important; they are like the captains of a ship at sea. In Bermuda as everywhere, most of the people at risk are not on the top deck. The life rafts and boats are all on the top deck and it only adds insult when there are not enough life jackets for everyone. Of course, this is allegorical but truly we are facing a storm and no one feels it more than those on the bottom deck.
Itís time for the best of leadership to surface for the good of the country. We know our future is vague, but with a little foresight and compassion we can produce great leaders who are able to turn despair into hope. We, even in our private lives, can lead by showing a way forward rather than throw rocks at our opponents.
The populace may feel the political momentum and mood of the country as it shifts its support from one party to another. But it is imperative that political leaders are clear about what they stand for, what they intend to do and what direction they will set out for the country rather than feed on populism or simple sentiments.
David Burt as Opposition leader has the task of providing the country with a clear plan of a government under his leadership, taking in all that we have experienced, with a formula that brings comfort and promises to energise the economy. The present leader, Michael Dunkley, will need to show how his government intends to foster inclusion and not assume for one minute that because water is hitting the top of the trees, it will filter down in sufficient amounts to nourish growth in the pastures.
We can emerge greater then we have ever been or descend to bottomless pits. It all rests on the shoulders of our leaders. I can only suggest that leaders take example from other great leaders and great ideas. We live in a global village where everyone is looking. Our leaders must lead us as though they were tasked to lead the whole world.
Letís make Bermuda the world we all want to live in. The vast majority of Bermudians just want good leaders with a viable plan as their first priority and will be less persuaded by the vile rhetoric of pre-elections.