Life and death choices: Bermudian men caught up in gangs carry the fate of their rivals in their hands. *AFP photo
Life and death choices: Bermudian men caught up in gangs carry the fate of their rivals in their hands. *AFP photo

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30: Social and community change happens the way a plant grows and changes. Sit and watch a potato plant pop its first green shoots above the soil and then grow fully, flower, then begin to wilt.

Dig beneath the visible plant and pull up big, ready to eat potatoes. Recycle the now wilted plant that was once growing above ground.

No matter how long you stare, you won’t actually see that growth. But you will see — and probably eat — the result of that growth and change.

That’s how a community grows and changes. Some stuff you can see, some you can’t. Some happens in the open, some happens invisibly.

Take our recent spate of shootings. A single murder on Christmas Day 2012 and a double murder on Friday 23rd January 2013. Three murders, less than a month apart.

A new kind of murder

The Christmas Day 2012 golf course gun killing, twenty-first since May 2009, might now be considered a normal killing. However, the double-killing inside Belvin’s store in January 2013 was not a ‘normal’ killing.

What was abnormal? The killer entered, killed, and left. There was no robbery. There was complete disinterest in the money. 

That is change. The kind of imperceptible but real change that you won’t actually see if you watch a plant grow. But you see the results of change.

With that double murder inside that store, we’ve all seen and been shown change.

Clearly, quite clearly, some lethally raw emotion — or lack of emotion — is now extant in our land amongst those who resort to guns and violence. Clearly, quite clearly, cold calculation is replacing — has replaced? — the kind of feeling that seems to have been present in some earlier — now almost ancient — killings.

Now, less than five weeks days after Christmas 2012, there’s a manhunt for an armed man.

Change has happened. I was reviewing this and talking about this with someone that I know. She pointed out that she knew three people who had recently been murdered. I too knew the same three people.

“Maxie” Brangman – ex-Corporal in the Bermuda Regiment - beaten to death in a shed in St David’s. George Lynch – I camped with him when he brought his stepson to Cub Scout camp - shot outside his home in Hamilton Parish. Ida James – social worker that I’d chatted with many times over many years - stabbed to death in her own home in Paget.

Can’t blame poverty

Bermuda is a well-to-do first world economy and society. Its per capita income is in the world top 10. It has very few visible signs of poverty. It has a plethora of charities and helping services for its “at risk” people. 

Even in a declining economy, it still spends over $20,000 per year per student on public education.

With all that going for it, in 2013, in a land where all guns are illegal, Bermuda has an incredibly high gun death rate. From 2009 to today, twenty-three gun deaths. The next gun death will make two dozen.

As with that plant, our problem grew while we watched. You are involved in this. You are as much a part of it as I am. Take this test.

Ask yourself, over the past five years, how many of these twenty-nine murdered people did I personally know? Think about your answer. Then ask – and answer – these two questions: “What has happened? What do I do about it?”

Twenty-nine killings or murders of all kinds since January 2008: Kellon Hill, Malcolm Augustus, ‘Maxie’ Gordon Brangman, Stefan Burgess, Garry ‘Fingas’ Cann, David Clarke, Colford Ferguson, Rico Furbert, Freddie Gilbert, Kumi Harford, Ida James, James Lawes, Jahmiko LeShore, George Lynch, Dekimo Martin, Freddy Maybury, Shane Minors, Rhiana Moore, Haile Outerbridge, Michael Phillips, Raymond (Yankee) Rawlins, Perry Puckerin, Kenwandee Robinson, Joshua Robinson, Randy Robinson, Jason Smith, Rudy Smith, Lorenzo Stovell, Kimwandae Walker.