Column: The Argument For Coming Together

February 18, 2022 | 33 Comments

Romeo Ruddock Bermuda February 2022[Opinion column written by Romeo Ruddock]

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Bermuda has become more polarized politically and socially in recent years. It seems everyone is defined according to their affiliation with a particular political ideology, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Many were hopeful that the COVID-19 global pandemic would help repair this. We live in one of the most challenging periods in our lifetime; however, we are more divided on this twenty-one square mile island than ever. Why are people so angry? Why do we insist that there is no other option outside the one we have? Why haven’t we been able to pull together? Sadly, we have spent more time segregating, arguing, and disseminating misinformation while the virus and the escalation of violence tear our communities apart.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 and the violence that continues to plague the island do not give a damn about our divisions. We cannot survive economically and socially if we remain separated. We need to show respect and concern for all residents of Bermuda whether we agree with their opinions, or not. The erosion of social, moral, cultural, economic, and political values will severely hamper our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic inequality adds fuel to the fire. Stark differences in current financial security bring anxiety, fear, distrust, and resentment. Bermudians and non-Bermudians alike are struggling to pay monthly bills, pay off debt, cover the costs of food, education, healthcare, and housing. Our failure to appreciate the economic frustration and pain residents feel will continue to separate us.

We need to speak candidly about the economic impact COVID-19 continues to have on the economy, and how we can work together to improve it. We cannot remain in a constant state of delusion and denial.

While the pandemic’s long-lasting impact has affected public health and the economy, acts of violence – firearm incidents, stabbings, and other criminal activities – have increased, especially in the Black community. We must ask ourselves why does this keep happening? We must “tell it like it is” and be honest about the underlying issues resulting in this kind of behaviour. And it’s time to break the proverbial code of silence.

Do we value life? Are we holding people accountable for their actions or inaction? People have wanted to come forward with information in many circumstances but have decided against doing so due to fears of retaliation. The Crime Stoppers hotline and website allow us to anonymously report those responsible for these acts of violence and eliminate the risk of retaliation. Gone are the days we can “See and Blind – Hear and Deaf.” Our civic duty is to assist law enforcement in eradicating the perpetrators in our communities.

To be successful, we’ll need a new era of relations, marked by cooperation, not conflict. Regardless of our status, we must be seen as individuals, not as being part of a group that is either oppressed or part of a group that oppresses. Divide and conquer is no longer an option. The energy that could be used to transform this island is being wasted. Furthermore, we must be prepared to do what is necessary to revive the economy. Blindly adhering to a particular viewpoint or ideology, can do more harm than good; but, talking to business leaders and other professionals who have had experience in different regions can prove valuable. And it’s not just the Government, but “we the people” who must be strong enough to address these problems, and willing to let go of traditional and entrenched beliefs so that we can rise from this morass, successfully. Being inclusive and working collaboratively means Bermudians and non-Bermudians must maintain a willingness to embrace the possessive pronouns of “we” and “our” and “us.”

Collaboration, when successful, generates better solutions and more significant benefits. Bermuda’s economic recovery is paramount, and ensuring that our young people have access to higher education, certifications, training, and the ability to upskill to compete locally and globally is imperative. We cannot allow those easily swayed by political demagoguery and race-baiting to impede an inclusive recovery. And we must be prepared to banish those cultural mores, practices and codes of silence within certain sub-sets of our community that protect perpetrators of negative behaviours. Such practices have only proven to be counter-productive to real progress in the Black community, while empowering the few bent on perpetrating these behaviours, even passing them on to younger generations as a legacy. Undoubtedly, this will only undermine any progress that can be developed as part of a recovering, inclusive society.

We must be proactive and intentional with our approach. Government spends a lot of money to help individuals and families pay for food, housing, and a wide variety of other needs. However, the financial assistance programs are not sustainable without increasing government revenues.

We must be creative and think outside of the box to solve the ongoing economic crisis. A Think-Tank should be established inclusive of Bermuda residents to identify strategic investments and policy changes to facilitate more effective alignment with our current state of affairs. Serious consideration should be given to revising the tax on corporate income. Difficult choices must be made relating to taxes to ensure an equitable recovery to help residents move from barely surviving to thriving.

Many industries, particularly hospitality, small businesses, and entrepreneurs continue to wrestle with how to pay the costs associated with the pandemic. The development of a fund where they can secure low-interest loans is another area for potential collaboration.

We need to be willing to invest in creative and strategic initiatives for more inclusive long-term growth by working with international businesses to develop initiatives that will secure training visas for Bermudians to gain international experience, making them more skilled and more competitive in the local job market when they return to Bermuda.

I don’t and won’t pretend to have all the answers; however, I felt compelled to put myself out there to appeal for us to come together for the greater good of everyone on this island. We need to work together. The contribution of ex-pats and foreigners should be celebrated instead of denigrated. It is time for us to realize that together we are the cavalry; we must put aside our differences, impress upon our leaders the importance of uniting the island around a plan for economic growth that includes everyone, and save ourselves.

- Romeo Ruddock

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Comments (33)

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  1. wondering says:

    this piece is full of so many cliches it is not funny……the content of which lends credence to the supposition that the writer is not in tune with the REAL Bermuda where the issues listed above aren’t new at all (sans COVID)

    • Anna says:

      I usually don’t read the comments, and this is precisely why. You failed to realize that the writer asks us to come together because the “REAL Bermuda” is counterproductive.

  2. Remzroller says:

    This is said every time the government is being questioned. We must not fight, we must support. Every. Single. Time.

    • Romeo Ruddock says:

      I can assure you that the opinion expressed are my own and in no way was I influenced by anyone in politics. I felt compelled to write this because it’s time to think carefully and figure out a way forward.

      • Tania Stafford says:

        Mr. Ruddock, Thank you for your article. I too consider that collaboration is preferable to conflict, especially in difficult times.

        Unfortunately, anonymous commentators use the media forums to vent rather than to look for solutions. I encourage you to keep writing.

        • Sandgrownan says:

          Articles like this are as much use as a chocolate teapot.

          • Joe Bloggs says:

            Actually, if, as Mr. Ruddock says, he is writing his personal feelings and not for political gain, then articles like this are what we need to move forward.

            We need to face the issues which divide us and we need to recognise our strengths and weaknesses.

            Politicians say what they say for political gain. Social activists say what they say to make the world a better place.

            That is the difference between Nelson Mandela and Donald Trump (to use an extreme example.

            • LOL (original) says:

              “Nelson Mandela and Donald Trump (to use an extreme” bad example more like Nelson Mandela and Clinton/Trudeau. Trump di dnot even come close. Besides Hillary did spy…

            • Sandgrownan says:

              Nope. Fine words I grant you, but what exactly do you expect to happen now?

              Bermuda is a religious-conservative island that votes for incompetence repeatedly.

              Not my fault it does that, but what exactly does the writer want me to do? Support Burt? Let DREB off the hook? Forget about the homophobic stance of the government?

              No, let’s see some PLP contrition first.

    • Ming says:

      I did not vote in the last election and I am not a PLP supporter however, the writer is asking us to consider doing things differently for the greater good.

  3. Hey says:

    If only people could realize that the polarizing propaganda and stirring up of emotions which the PLP are very good at doing does not help a person financially and creates a separate mentality in our nation.

    It needs to stop. We are all affected by decisions made and not made and we need to ensure that our representatives are there for the betterment of Bermuda and not just because they stirred up emotions to gain power.

    20 years of PLP rule has not created a better Bermuda and that is the reality we and our children have to deal with.

    PLP need to start delivering on education, the economy and cut the excuses, rhetoric and spending. Hitting us in our pocket is unacceptable, am tired of us Bermudians having to pay more for less.

  4. Observer says:

    Coming together, what a joke. There are particular people within the current ruling party who are diametrically opposed to any form of united front for Bermuda. The agenda of Mr B JP MP is so obvious, so heavily outlined in every move he makes and words he speaks. A joint approach to a successful Bermuda is indeed a nice idea, but it can’t be done when minds are entrenched in hate and bitterness.

    • Romeo Ruddock says:

      We must work together to solve challenging problems — even when the solutions are far from easy.

      • Sandgrownan says:

        Well they wouldn’t be challenging if the solutions were easy would they?

        Give me a break, 20 years of PLP failure and xenophobia and incompetence and discrimination and NOW you want me to come together? Bollocks to that.

        • Question says:

          Exactly. All of a sudden we should stop criticizing the obvious and enourmous deficiencies in the government.
          The PLP have f… things up completely, and they own it.

          • Ming says:

            With that kind of attitude we will never come together.

            • Sandgrownan says:

              Stop electing the PLP then, stop rewarding failure.

              You now want my help?? Yeah, as I said elsewhere, bollocks to that.

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We cannot survive economically and socially if we remain separated.”

    I agree. Now get the PLP Government to stop the “us” and “them” rhetoric and start bringing us all together

    • Romeo Ruddock says:

      Dysfunction in politics will persist until WE demand that our leaders do better. If we want our politicians to live up to a higher standard, we must be the ones to hold them to it. We have to change our attitude and be good neighbors and citizens, to see our political opponents not as enemies but as people who disagree on policy; this would cause politicians and those who feed off the division to change their messaging.

      • iyiyi says:

        Sad part of this is the reality that many of the politicians from both parties are not capable of doing better mainly due to not being qualified in their post on any post for that matter .
        It seems anyone can be a politician simply because they are liked or have connections with the voters and qualifications don’t matter .

      • Burtcoin says:

        Bla bla bla….. Heard it all before. This maybe the perfect answer but to expect it in such a political environment that trickled down to the people. Just take a look around . If everybody works together then there would be no need for party politics now would there? People have different views for a reason. Accountable? Ha … Your just delusional. No need to come in here and defend yourself. This kind of sunshine talk it absolutely plain politics

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        “Dysfunction in politics will persist until WE demand that our leaders do better.”

        The current political leadership is too arrogant to listen to us. The last 2 UBP premiers (David Saul and Pamela Gordon) listened to the people. No premier since has.

  6. J. Miller says:

    Thank you, Mr. Ruddock! There are a lot of us who understand structural racism continues to disproportionately segregate communities of color from access to opportunity and upward mobility. 

    It is disheartening to constantly be blamed for things that had nothing to do with my generation. So many foreigners don’t feel welcomed in Bermuda even after being here for years.  We have tried to give advice and offer solutions; however, the government of the day is not willing to accept us as equals. This island would be better off if we could come together.

    Again thank you for your encouragement. We are not the enemy, and we are willing to assist.

  7. Craig Looby says:

    and within a governance system that has no real functioning way to hold those in governance and in the civil service accountable for their actions / lack of actions how does the writer suggest bermudians hold ppl in governance accountable? the bermuda govt engages in friends and family access to opportunities, while blocking others that have contributions to make who are not friends n family….creating another dimension of the haves vs have nots….the white political party does it for their friends n family, and the so called black party, which is a black eletist party, does it for their friends n family…this is discrimination, this is un constitutional, this is govt structured corruption

  8. Willing says:

    Mr. Ruddock, this conversation is long overdue. While individual white people are not to blame for policies that began before we were born, we still benefit from them. Seeing the undeniable truth of this, we must challenge rather than comply and work toward creating a more livable country for everyone.

    Please send this article to Chris Furbert, Jason Hayward, and Rev. Tweed.

  9. Wishing says:

    “We cannot allow those easily swayed by political demagoguery and race-baiting to impede an inclusive recovery. And we must be prepared to banish those cultural mores, practices and codes of silence within certain sub-sets of our community that protect perpetrators of negative behaviours” Good point and well said.

    We would have other options if there were a viable third-party system in Bermuda or independent candidates that could make a difference. If we allow our differences to balloon in importance, they can appear more significant than what we have in common.

    Mr. Ruddock, I hope the PLP, OBA and the Union leaders listen to your advise.

  10. Bill says:

    Yes I 100 percent agree with you Mr Ruddock. The biggest problem is greed and “me first attidude” on this island. You can see it first hand on the roads “overtaking to get ahead of the person in front” and in businesses. A few years back we looked after each other more and were a layed back friendly island community. Banks are greedy putting fees on ever single thing they can without being questioned. It is only happening here where they charge you to take out your own money for instance. Shipping companies are adding extra fees. Government are implementing added fees and licences. Travel Authorisation, sugar tax for eg. Health insurance companies are doing the same and not covering you when you are really in need over 65. Belco has added fees. Unfortunately this is driving the gap between the rich and the poor even bigger. The middle class are leaving the island to find a better standard of living elsewhere. It is too expensive to live here because of greed and the value for money per service is not sustainable, the bubble is going to burst very soon.

  11. Sarah says:

    “Being inclusive and working collaboratively means Bermudians and non-Bermudians must maintain a willingness to embrace the possessive pronouns of “we” and “our” and “us.”

    Mr. Ruddock,
    I wonder how many Bermudians genuinely believe the above statement? My daughter plays football, and you would be surprised at some of the comments from Bermudian parents.

    • Tania Stafford says:

      Hi Sarah, how terrific your daughter is playing football.

      If you are not already doing so, I’d like to suggest that you and she join the national read along of Florenz Maxwell’s excellent prize winning book Girlcott. It sets out the very recent history of segregation in Bermuda. I think it might help find the comment ground encouraged in this article and by the serious commentators on this forum.

  12. Common Sense says:

    Barack Obama once stated that if one divides a population in order to get elected; then that population will be hard to govern. Calls for unity after getting elected are a bit cynical.

  13. Ming says:

    Mr. Ruddock,
    I agree. When it comes to joining together to make our island better, one of the most important things we can do is find out what we have in common. When we share something with the people around us, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, it can help us make connections we never realized we could.

    Now we must find common ground. This is a great forum for this conversation.

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