A scientist will say the thing that differentiates humans from animals is their ability to conceive of tomorrow. They will also say the feedback stimuli that feeds the human brain allows not only the ability to contemplate the future but also the ability to deal with totally unknown and unscripted situations never experienced before.
Animals differ in that regard; their brains are not as developed and, from a scale of consciousness from that of an alligator to a monkey, will operate and organise in patterns that are very predictable and limited to the scope of their brains’ feedback and conscious ability.
An alligator, for example, is a reptile and responds to survival instincts, incapable of emotions such as in the case of a monkey who will form bonds and even organise using emotional senses to determine friend from foe.
A human can think and respond to life situations like a monkey or a reptile, but the difference is animals and reptiles cannot respond like a human. For that reason, trials and difficult circumstances serve only to bring out innate human ability.
We often find ourselves in situations that appear impossible, where we may even be cursed and ready to cave in and give up. Did we ever think that these are just a part of the random exercises that make us human?
Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman, almost a statistical impossibility, but that’s why he is “the greatest” — he did not become the greatest because he beat only who he was supposed to beat.
In a broader sense, there are national or societal situations that have ravaged communities faced with poverty and adversity, where the social responses were a survivalist, reptilian type where persons steal, loot and kill each other — even their next-door neighbour — just to save themselves or their families. Then there are the sublime examples of societies, although few and far between, where the societal responses to the same travesties and hardship have been met as an exercise of sharing where persons, as it were, would refuse to fill their own bellies to ensure their neighbour had food.
While that may be an extreme example, the milder but no less potent form is when society looks at the space it occupies and recognises the benefit of everyone having a right to be included as an occupant to participate in the bounties and to contribute to the direction of society.
That is not democracy or communism when it comes from the heart; it is humanism. I listened to a few words on Election Night in Bermuda, and the words that stuck with me were: “This government has an opportunity to alter the destiny of Bermuda”.
There is no idea more pertinent and, given the challenges and adversity the island faces, nothing can prove our humanity more than rising to this occasion and pushing the envelope farther than before, where Bermuda can experience a different sense of itself as a truly prosperous but inclusive society.
One of the distractions that prevented previous governments from achieving that goal, despite no lack of opportunities, was the problem of opportunity being controlled so that only special interest groups benefited. Some call it greed, but let’s use the scientific term — reptilian.
Under those previous scenarios, society knew its place as it allowed the oligarchs to feed, knowing the consequences of wanting to participate would be met with victimisation. It did not matter what name we called the Government; it was cronyism and it all came down to who you knew, had an association with, or paid homage to the acceptable cartel.
This government has the opportunity to “break the Billy” and govern on merit, allowing greater participation without the factor of special interest curtailing programmes because it upset the monopolies or self-interest.
It always struck me as odd when the former minister of economic development was part of the largest interest group in the island. It comes as a refreshing break that the present minister is not stuck with a vested interest. While it may not be the only recipe, it is a huge step in the right direction and may indeed make the difference, so full kudos to the leader for that wise choice.
Bermuda can survive and climb through all the perceived economic obstacles it faces. The biggest obstacle is ourselves; we need to embrace each other and welcome participation. When we behave like humans, we will meet the challenges and find solutions, no matter how difficult. Facing and overcoming challenges are what prove our humanity, and separate us from the animal. We just have to choose to be human. I think we can.