Column: Do We Seek To Polarize Or Strengthen

December 5, 2016

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

In December of 1977, as a young man living temporarily in London, I had an experience which resonates with that metaphor, above. I began to discover an unconquerable aspect of myself. It eventually became apparent to me that this is also available to everyone.

It is revealed to us as we begin to understand that we cannot really be defeated – regardless of the nature of any challenge – once we are able to ‘trust’ – ourselves, others and the universe. Of course, this doesn’t mean we always ‘get our own way’.

It was during 1977 that I began to appreciate that my ability to trust, leverages my access to this invincibility, within myself. Of course each individual’s life journey is unique but they eventually intersect with so many others. London was a crossroads, as some of these strands, came together there, during 1977.

The roots of some strands emerged in London in the 15th Century, when the business interests of the day established ‘settlements’ across the ‘New World’. ‘Robber Barons’ were able to start the Slave Trade, making free labour available.

That scenario optimized profits for business, resulting in the consequential human tragedy. While the system of slavery was eventually dismantled, the consequences that flowed, led to centuries of society, stuck in segregation and substantial inequality.

Glenn Fubler TC Bermuda December 5 2016

That ‘winter’, was warmed up-over time – by the collaborative actions of many – mostly nameless- ‘actors’ who possessed a considerable trust in themselves. For example, Mary Prince, born in Bermuda, eventually lived in London, and played a critical role in the collaboration that brought about Emancipation on August 1, 1834.

Rosa Parks trusted herself enough to take a stand on that bus in Montgomery in 1956. The Progressive Group trusted themselves and fellow- Bermudians, so that the successful Theatre Boycott, peacefully removed Bermuda’s formal racial barriers by July 2, 1959.

This process was not straightforward – it was complex, with: one step forward and two steps backward. Those setbacks led to some undermining of trust and the resultant temptation to take the ‘low road’. This was the prevailing ‘climate’ of the late ‘60’s – early ‘70’s. It was in that context that Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 5, 1968. The resultant riots, led many of us to forget his reminder that the ‘arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice’.

It was during that ‘cold spell’ that trust was eclipsed. Rather than embracing the faith in ourselves to directly engage those resisting the coming ‘summer’, some of us yielded to temptation, taking the low road. At that point, I was among those who looked to polarize our community, rather than to seek to thaw relations.

This ‘cold front’ moved across Bermuda, feeding a spiral of ‘tit-for-tat’ that ushered in a gathering storm. Over time, this pressure led to a destructive momentum which stoked conditions eventually leading to the assassinations of a Police Commissioner, Governor and others, in cold blood.

Living systems in concert with the laws of the universe have a way of bringing about balance – a process called Homeostasis. After that most chilling period of our Island’s collective story; some of us were able foster a grassroots shift.

In the spirit of making amends, we choose to work to regain balance, stretching to recapture trust in ourselves and our wider community. This led us to mindfully taking collaborative actions, fostering relations and the pendulum began to return towards the centre.

The response to the assassinations resulted in the convictions of Burrows and Tacklyn and this reality led us to explore the context of restorative justice. One simple goal was to stay the hangman.

Over a period of almost two years, a small group of us exercised a deep trust, as in spite of having only minimal initial support, we were able to foster a broader societal shift. Given that the UK’s governing party – the Labour Party – officially opposed capital punishment and that there had been no hanging in Bermuda for decades, it looked as if we were ‘safe’.

However, it was not until days after engaging directly with members of the British Parliament in December 1977 that we became aware that we had misjudged circumstances – as history has documented.[The benefit of hindsight and significant research has shown that the vast majority of others involved in this matter from all sides, were also mistaken]

The rest is history. Notwithstanding the many fires from the resulting riots, that December, the Island went through a deep cold spell. This ‘error’ will only become more fully understood if our entire Island commits to become a ‘learning community’ and seeks to draw lessons to benefit our whole society.

That said; the easy takeaway offered to all of us is to seek to nurture trust in ourselves and each other.

Out of the ashes of December ’77 some of us sought to rebuild a sense of community that trusted itself and was committed to peace rather than polarization. These efforts proved to be so successful that during the Island-wide protests of 1981 – a few years later- it was evident that during that totally peaceful campaign that the police and protesters worked together in concert. I was able to see first-hand that this was due to a sense of trust in self and others.

Our community’s latest challenge this past Friday, on Parliament Hill could benefit by us reflecting on lessons from this chapter of our past.

We are all called to reflect on how we come to the table. Do we trust ourselves or not? Do we seek to polarize or aim to strengthen our community?

Regardless of our differences; together we have the capacity to not only survive, but to thrive. Let’s engage with each other with trust in ourselves. With courage we can mindfully look to benefit our children, our grandchildren and upcoming generations.

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Comments (12)

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  1. hmmm says:

    A good read, the PLP are hellbent on division and polarizing to secure power. I think people need to catch on, because a society cannot be governed through polarization in the 21st century.

    • Truth Teller says:

      Here Glenn Fubler goes again establishing false moral equivalences.

  2. San George says:

    The “Middle Class” is the buffer between the rich and the poor. The larger the middle class, the larger the buffer. Without the Middle Class there will clearly be two poles; rich and poor. History does not paint a good picture of that condition. This is an economic matter – you are still discussing an old social war.

    Quo Fata Ferunt

  3. Carpe Diem says:

    Thank you Glenn for a profound column. All sides in Friday’s events can learn from your thoughtful words. I hope that all of our leaders see this column. Congratulations Bernews for publishing it.

  4. Community First says:

    Thank you Mr. Fubler.

    Once again our Bermuda community is focused on the evaluation of our level of trust and connection as a result of Friday’s shocking decision to use police intervention with the use of pepper spray.

    What is our next right step? How do we come together to further create the community you outline?

  5. Terry says:

    What the hell does Martin Luther King, Julian Hall, Buck Burrows and Larry Tacklyn have to do with the “New Airport”.

    Evil hands at work who want all the pie and it’s ingredients because their stolen toys are rusty.

    Sad days ahead.

  6. Rocky5 says:

    Police Commissioner George Duckett was shot and killed outside his Devonshire home on September 9,1972. Six months later came the murders of Governor Sir Richard Sharples and his 25-year-old aide-de-camp Captain Hugh Sayers and the pet Great Dane. Both were shot dead in the grounds of Government House. Soon after that Victor Rego and Mark Doe were murdered in an armed robbery at the Shopping Centre in Hamilton.
    Erskine Durrant (Buck) Burrows was convicted of the murders of the Police Commissioner, Governor, Capt Sayers, Mr Rego and Mr Doe. Larry Tacklyn was convicted of the Shopping Centre murders but cleared of the Government House killings.
    During his trial Burrows sent a written confession to the prosecutor in which he admitted killing the Governor ‘along with others I shall never name’.

  7. Legalgal says:

    FFS it’s a contract about building an airport. Debate that. Peace.