I have been thinking about my role in our community for a while. I’ve avoided politics because it terrifies me. I’m sure if I ever ran for office, within minutes I’d have both feet in my mouth and be chewing my fingernails at the same time.
I’m not tactful or good at keeping my mouth shut. I could never promise I wouldn’t crumble in the limelight or lose touch with reality in the heady space of power and responsibility.
A lot of our ancestors fought to vote. I’ve created my own election platform to share with the public. I’ve tried to avoid speaking negatively, but my intentions are to influence change for the good of our entire community, so I’m going ahead anyway.
I find party politics in Bermuda divisive and destructive. I would like to see all our elected representatives working with each other and with members of the public service, private sector and labour unions in dignified and respectful ways to do the following:
1, Create schools that foster peace, tolerance, friendship and understanding. Where the potential of all children is developed, with teachers, families and students receiving support, learning enrichment and encouragement to realise this goal
2, For all bickering, quarrelling, complaining, point scoring, competition and power grabbing to stop. To stop denigrating, diminishing, complaining and criticising, and instead to support and encourage the best potential of each other and our community
3, To put the interests of the greater community first and for personal interests to be secondary. For those of us who are not in governance, to allow people in public office to have private lives, personal time and space
4, To draw on the differing wisdom, strengths, talents and capabilities of all involved in providing governance
5, To remember the goal of all laws is to foster peace, tolerance, good order — to foster human rights with the responsibility of treating all people as free and equal in dignity and rights
6, When decisions are made, give them time to see if they are correct or not. If decisions need to be tweaked or rethought in business, it’s simply done. To expect perfection the first time round in country governance is unrealistic. Circumstances change and new information comes to light. Change is inevitable. When we contribute to the process, and support and encourage change, then we are constructive and create a climate where it is OK to say “I made a mistake” or “In light of new information, I’ve realised we need to change course”
7, To create a culture and climate where it is understood that we all have differing beliefs, and it is a normal and ordinary part of being alive, and to access the collective wisdom and greatness of those beliefs
8, No more pedestals or heroes. We are all human beings. We are perfect and flawed at the same time. When we put people on pedestals, they always fall off. The best thing we can do is to support and encourage respectful and dignified behaviour. To laugh, to love and be in peace. Keeping the word “respect” in the centre of our lives. Doing unto others as we would have done unto us. The term “do unto others” means something different to each one of us
9, To pass laws and put strategies in place so as to achieve full employment. To protect and support the most vulnerable people in our society
10, We all have buttons and when those buttons are activated, they create any number of stories that are not the truth of who we are or who anyone else is. It’s called “cognitive dissonance”.
This happens to everyone. When we want to blame, criticise, complain or have repetitive negative thoughts, we can choose to press the pause button. To allow curiosity to trickle in.
To develop a greater sense of compassion for ourselves and others.
To practise opening our hearts and minds.
In politics and advertising, our buttons are deliberately manipulated to achieve a certain result. If we learn how our brains operate, we become able to deactivate our buttons and are much less susceptible to manipulation because we have created space for our deep-thinking brain to operate.
The process of questioning ourselves and asking whether our reaction is the truth or not is a lifelong practice. On the other side of each question is an opportunity that creates an immense amount of wisdom and personal power.
We have to stop looking outside ourselves for change to be brought about by someone else. A wise friend told me: “Change is like a jigsaw puzzle. There are many pieces and players, and the picture isn’t clear. It becomes clear as many people put in the pieces to solve the puzzle. There are many puzzles to be solved.”
Change is a journey, not a destination.
Each one of us has to ask how we can help.
As long as we keep on asking that question and are prepared to lead and follow, we’ll keep on moving forward.
•Monica Jones is a former attorney, and modern-day artist and writer, who has sold her art through private sales from her home studio in Pembroke for the past several years. She started her personal writing in 2010 and has published a newsletter, blog and regular Facebook dialogue, with the goal of creating a more peaceful and humane world