WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1: The following summarizes and expands upon comments made in the House of Assembly on Friday.

 


Race, politics, economic empowerment and independence are vexatious issues.

While I acknowledge the real and perceived injustices of the past, I am reminded of two old-adages:

1. equality is earned, and never granted voluntarily;

2. a person respects you when you respect yourself.

If black Bermudians feel the need to gain “equality” in a cultural and economic sense, we must “cooperate in order to compete”.

This demands a shift in thinking away from a “victim mentality” and to a consciousness of “self-knowledge”.

A knowledge of self fosters a love and respect for self. This in turn must be extended, in order of importance, to one’s family, community, and then country. Much of our social malaise stems from our own internal, cultural neglect — or in other words, a lack of individual and collective self-discipline.

In this vein, there is nothing to stop black Bermudians from cooperating with each other in various economic enterprises that will permit for the creation of wealth through ownership.

Today, it is idle to complain when you can compete. Do not complain of high food prices in certain grocery stores, unfair policies of certain banking institutions, or the fact that you weren’t invited to the private club, when it’s in your power to become competitive.

Let me make this point abundantly clear. White Bermuda does not owe Black Bermuda anything! They are not obligated to even offer an apology for the past, let alone any other form of material or non-material reparations. What will be required at the least, is positive encouragement, and at the most, mutual assistance. What is crucial going forward, is the positive attitude that if you cannot help us, do not hurt us.

Likewise, those white Bermudians who have been privileged to own or operate their business, or generally enjoy accumulated wealth, must be given the complete and full freedom to continue to conduct their affairs in peace and security. In both instances, our Government’s primary responsibility is to facilitate this competitive environment. Competition is healthy and Bermudians of all races must see the benefit of economically cooperating with one-another for our mutual benefit. This level of cooperation amongst our citizens will strengthen our entire economy vis-a-vis other jurisdictions.

The Bahamas is an excellent model for Bermuda to learn from. Mr. Guilden Gilbert has rightly pointed out that the standard and quality of life for Bahamians is very high. In fact, the Bahamas is the third wealthiest country per capita income in the America’s and the wealthiest majority black/African independent country in the world!

Regardless of the racial demographic of the Bahamas, the reality is that today, race is no longer a factor in Bahamian politics. White and black Bahamians exercise their vote based on principles and policies, and thus, the social environment is much more harmonious than our current state in Bermuda.

It is clear to me that our country has reached the end of the current political construct. Many persons have expressed ideas on how we can best reform our political system. We have reached the end of the road re: the corporate-welfare ethos of the UBP/OBA, and the social-welfare ethos of the PLP. I have heard suggestions that we return to independent MPs, fixed term elections and so on.

For the sake of the next generation, I thus put forward the position that we must again, look at the Bahamas, and their move to constitutional monarchy. The only viable move to improve our current political system is via a constitutional conference in London, and that means a move towards constitutional monarchy. Under this construct, the interest of the Crown remains secure, while the people have the opportunity to be the masters of their collective destiny.

I would gladly sit as the member of the Opposition in an independent Bermuda, led by the UBP/OBA, than to be the Premier of Bermuda, as an overseas territory, if that means an end to racial politics and the dawn of a new era based on a harmony of interest.

In conclusion, we are still subjected in Bermuda to a “zero-sum game” where the “winner takes all”. This attitude provides ample breeding ground for racialism, especially during an election period. It also fosters a lack of transparency and accountability within political parties and politically motivated institutions.

In the end, this is a disservice to the people of Bermuda, as it reduces the opportunity for mature, rational thought and discourse. Sooner or later, our swords will be turned into ploughshares.

Marc Bean is the PLP MP for Warwick South Central.