Column: ‘Let’s Pull Together And Just Do It’

May 26, 2017 | 8 Comments

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

A few years ago, my wife and I received a call from our daughter, telling us the surprising news that she was pregnant. Initially, I had some concerns due the circumstances, but within a short time I caught myself, realizing that my wonderful daughter and our family were being offered a ‘gift’ – the miracle of new life.

One of the challenges of being human is our tendency to react to life’s circumstances – rather than respond; potentially missing our ‘gifts’. It is evident that the Planet – including Bermuda – is at a crossroads, given the challenges. This makes addressing our gifts, that much more important.

It is in this context that I reflect on a conversation with a group of friends this past Saturday evening. We were discussing whether America’s Cup would benefit the Island. I suggested that it had potential for rebooting our Visitor Industry. One person responded that it seemed like the Government wanted Bermuda to ‘only become the playground of the rich and this would only move us back into a condition of servitude’. This reaction brought up the matter of ‘gifts’ for me.

Appreciating ‘gifts’ is central to life’s journey. In Genesis, one story has Abraham and his ‘infertile’ wife camping in the hostile dessert when two strangers pass by. Overcoming his initial resistance, Abraham ‘caught himself’ and offered these strangers hospitality and subsequently the elderly couple received the gift of a baby son – a miracle.

When the Sea Venture was hit by a hurricane in 1609, the shipwreck would have initially had those travelers feeling like victims. However, they were able to see the gifts offered, re-grouped on the ‘Rock’ and eventually building two new ships, they were even able to assists settlers in Virginia.

Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to cooperate with the inhumane policy of segregation. Her story has her overcoming initial apprehension as she recognized the gift in that challenging situation and went on to inspire a movement that transformed, not only Montgomery, but the most powerful country in the world.

In September 1959, 2 months after the success of the peaceful Theatre Boycott, dockworkers, led by ‘Porkchop’ Mills, initiated the first successful comprehensive local strike of a shipping company. However, circumstances led to a situation that the protesters considered very unfair and their resultant anger led to a situation that teetered on unprecedented violence.

However, a group of mediators, including Leonard Bascome – then BIU President and the 23 year-old Rev. Vernon Byrd who had only recently settled in the island, helped cooler heads prevail. Out of initial disappointment, patience from all sides led to a process that eventually established the gift of a system of industrial relations that benefited not only dockworkers, but all employees.

The staging of the America’s Cup, like life, has some potential downsides. However, it potentially offers a gift. As far as our visitor industry becoming a niche for ‘rich people’ and the implications that this will foster a sense of ‘servitude’ in residents; history offers another perspective.

One of my mentors, Wilfred ‘Mose’ Allen, a confidant to Dr Gordon and mentor to Dame Lois was perhaps the most militant advocate for ‘rights’ in 20th Century Bermuda. In Mose’s view, Bermudian hospitality set an example to the Globe providing good service without being servile.

When we access our best selves, Bermudians engage visitors as ‘equals’ – regardless of their background. You have seen this demonstrated for decades by the Doorman at Hamilton Princess – Carvel VanPutten. Carvel provides service without being servile. Michael Douglas referred to this spirit in his recent interview on the ‘Today Show’.

Other evidence of this traditional approach to service is the fact that a number of hospitality employees often spend holidays in the homes of their guests. Sister ‘Molly’ Burgess of the BIU proudly tells the story of how she still visits former guest that she served 40 years ago.

Our visitor industry had been in decline for the past 30 years. International Business, while a vital leg of our economy can only accommodate a limited number of Bermudians as employees, based on its complex nature. We are being called to stage a renaissance of the industry rooted in the island and inclusive across our workforce. America’s Cup offers the gift of a stepping-stone towards that reboot.

Let’s pull together and just do it!!

- Glenn Fubler

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Comments (8)

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  1. Cow Polly says:

    As the old saying goes “no one has power over you unless you give it to them”. Putting that saying into the context of your column, giving great service shouldn’t feel like servitude unless you wish it so.

  2. Unbelievable says:

    Co-sign.

  3. Athena says:

    From that initial shipwreck of the Sea Venture came a gift. We are now being given another gift from the sea. Let’s all embrace it.

    Thank you Mr.Fubler for sharing your thoughts and encouraging us all to
    show the world what we can do when we pull together.

  4. Breathe says:

    I am fascinated by how so many folk are lining up to re-cast history in support of this event. Mr. Fubler, how can you demand unity around this event where none exists generally or specifically on any other issue in this divided country ? It’s offensive to conjour up these historical references in support of this event when it’s entire raison d’etre runs counter to the principles of every movement or cause you cite.

  5. PLPNA says:

    The Bermudian way of service was around long before the Ritz Carlton put in in words:- “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

  6. Realist says:

    How refreshing! Excellent, heartwarming piece.

  7. So Tired says:

    Very well put Glenn but unfortunately, when AC is over, it will be business as usual

  8. Pastor Syl says:

    Thank you, friend Glenn. Earlier this year I spent a far too short time at the Half Moon Hotel, one of Jamaica’s premier hotels. The service was 5 star all the way. Everybody smiled. Everybody was friendly. Nothing was to difficult for them to provide yet not a one was servile. There was no hint that the staff felt they were in servitude. There was instead much pride evident in their ability to create a so supremely memorable experience for their guests. I don’t know from whence we got the idea that good,friendly service meant that we were servants. ..probably yet another US import. In any case, as always we make the choice as to how we see ourselves…

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