THE MAN IN THE MIRROR

So how did we get so many young males living in what looks like a separate sub-culture?

            From 1960 – 1994, as Kim Young, UBP, MP wrote, we were “keeping up with the chairman of the board”. We were so busy making money, building houses, and taking trips that we never did what Michael Jackson sang about.

            We Bermudians never looked at the man [or woman] in the mirror.  Because we didn’t look at ourselves, we didn’t look at our neighbourhood – the village. Because we didn’t look at our village, we didn’t look at our country.

            Now, with guns popping off, baseball bats batting people instead of balls, and an obvious sub-culture and underclass in our midst; we’ve ‘suddenly’ started to see something.

            What we’re seeing is the result of a human failing. None of us likes to see messy and unsightly stuff. Frequently we try to mask it. If that doesn’t work, we ignore it.

            Then, when it’s completely unavoidable – our longtime Bermudian habit has been to stuff some dollars in the pockets of a foreign ‘axpert’ and launch him at the problem.  Generally, the ‘axpert’ manages to perfume the problem and mask it for a little longer.

            Then, one day, our well-perfumed mound explodes into a stinking mess. Then we Bermudians really react.        

            But we could – should – have seen it happening. How? By looking in the mirror that every – other – society seems to have.

            Look at the past five decades of Bermudian visual art. One thing stands out. There’s damn few Bermudian pictures showing ordinary Bermudian people. There’s lots of sea, scenery, and sunsets. But few people. It’s the solid evidence that we – as a whole country – didn’t even look at or see ourselves.[*]

            Additionally, up to the very early nineties, very few books were written by and about ordinary Bermudians. Writers perform the same function as visual artists. Writers create word pictures. Musicians create sound pictures.

            But not only artists.  Statisticians, whose mission is to collect numbers and identify relationships and trends, seemed to spend all their time following the flow of tourist people and dollars. Statisticians didn’t collect and highlight population numbers and social trends, and their relative values and importance. For statisticians, this is supposed to be their raison d’etre.

            By not looking at ourselves in these different ways, we were placing a low value on our human community and on our individual selves.

            Because we didn’t see ourselves as we actually were, we didn’t see what was actually happening. We didn’t see the under-educating, the under-training, the under-employing, and the consequential displacing. We didn’t ‘see’ the predictable social trend away from certain jobs. We didn’t ‘see’ the forming underclass with its predictable underclass subculture. That’s how we got here.

            In getting out, the value placed on Bermuda’s majority population is of primary importance. In past years, this population was not highly valued.

            So, first action?  Unpleasant and ‘politically incorrect’ it may be, but we’ll probably have to continue ‘writing-off’ some people. Not shoot or Zyklon them. Instead, as we started doing in the 1970’s, we’ll have to carry on serially ‘warehousing’ them in the ‘new’ correctional institutions specially built for them; and go on ‘warehousing’ them until they die out.

            Second action? Properly educate, properly train, and then employ every able-bodied Bermudian. However, even with heightened Bermudian employment, accept that our peculiarly narrow and uniquely shallow Bermuda job market will always require that part of our Bermuda workforce will always be foreign-born. Also, as we go forward, accept that some of our Bermudian people will always have to work overseas in jobs that suit their skill-sets and dispositions, but jobs that do not – and that cannot – exist in Bermuda.

            Third. Most important. Start, and never stop, looking in the mirror so that each of us sees Bermuda as it actually is, and ourselves as we really are.

            That means that those Bermudian voices and fingers and brushes that are beginning to create those mirrors need to be nurtured and encouraged.

            If we cannot see ourselves as we really are, then we’ll quickly fail as a national economic entity. Why? Because all we’re really selling are our human selves living in our complex social system set amidst our God-given 11,000 acres [don’t forget that the ‘Yanks’ gave us the other 2,000 acres].

            If we Bermudians upset our own – our very own – ‘delicate balance’ – which, nowadays, we can do so much easier – we’ll have only ourselves to blame.

            Ain’t nobody here to mess up but us! 

  

            [*] Don’t believe me?  Talk to Tom Butterfield at Masterworks!

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