Column: Think Globally And Act Locally

January 13, 2020

PHOTO-2020-01-08-15-20-44[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

During this dawning of a new and crucial decade, we are reminded of the above slogan. Just after midnight of New Year’s Eve, a dozen or so residents gathered in a small park at the crossroads of Dundonald and Court Streets in Hamilton, spending the first hour of 2020 sharing candle light and conversation regarding peace.

The gathering had been inspired by a symbolic act on the part of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bermuda – Most Rev. Wesley Spiewak and member of the local Muslim community, Imam Emir Saleem Talbot, a few weeks ago.

These two faith-leaders decided to build on an initiative of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, who joined earlier last year, in signing a formal document: “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”

While these acts were symbolic, Saleem Talbot has meditated on peace and worked toward that end for decades. The fruit of that labour is evident in his neighbourhood – the Devil’s Hole community.

By unfortunate contrast, it is disappointing that within the first days of the new decade, President Trump decided to take an action that most global leaders contend threatens world peace. The question could be asked; how was he thinking?

These contrasting scenarios offer a lesson in social dynamics, global and local.

Evidence of how he was thinking is provided by Trump’s own Twitter account between 2011 and 2012, when he tweeted at least five times making allegations about then-President Obama. All these tweets were variations of the following theme: in order to win the next election, Barack Obama will start a war with Iran.

However, during his second term, rather than starting a war with Iran, Barak Obama made evident how he was thinking when his actions facilitated the historic Iran Nuclear Agreement. This unprecedented international negotiation exemplified peace building. It was agreed to by the United States, U.K., France, Germany, China, Russia, Germany, the European Union and Iran.

Once President Trump was elected, he began a process to destroy the historic agreement with the help of Saudi Arabia, whose government is one of the most undemocratic global regimes.

In Bermuda, Saleem Talbot has demonstrated that peace building is a process that takes patience and perseverance. Devil’s Hole was known as one of the island’s hot spots by the police three decades ago. While Saleem had grown up in Devonshire, he moved back to his roots in Devil’s Hole 30 years ago.

Saleem, a graduate of Howard University’s School of Engineering, has served teaching math and science at various high schools. He expanded his passion to foster the development of young people by founding the X-Roads Warriors football team, which has played an important role in transforming the Devil’s Hole community. This, along with his leadership in the local Islamic community, has leveraged the effectiveness of his work.

The success of X-Roads can be seen on the field of play – notwithstanding being one of the smallest clubs on island, they were promoted to the Premier League a couple of years ago. Notwithstanding the club’s seemingly meager resources, they continue to punch above their weight.

In addition, Saleem has been able to encourage players to develop their full personal potential, as he has with his own children, who have become successful in medicine, international business, entrepreneurship, and other ways. All this while giving back to their community.

This example potentially offers other Bermuda neighbourhoods something of a template. There are sports clubs which have significant challenges regarding fostering peace in their neighbourhoods. I’m sure that Saleem would make himself available to consult with both governmental and non-governmental relevant agencies in this regard.

The actions of the Trump administration are beyond our immediate control. That said, as we closely observe their acting out, we are asked to reflect on how we think and act in those circumstances over which we do have some control.

During these early days of this new decade, one way to think globally and act locally might be to popularize the greeting used by Saleem Talbot and his fellow Islamic community; As- Salaam-Alaikum, or Peace Be Unto You.

- Glenn Fubler


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