At the end of 2010, after a year in the Premier's Office, I decided that I was out of politics. Not necessarily for good, but I was broken. On my first day in my position as Assistant to the Premier The Royal Gazette covered my appointment on page three. No one in that role before or since has had any article written about them. This is not a complaint, but an observation. It's the result of a family legacy of public service of which I am very proud. My father Julian was an MP, my aunt Judith recently retired as the head of the Civil Service, my grandfather Lynn committed his life to the police and my uncle Lynn Jr. spent his entire career in the prison service. But this legacy has not come without a price.
|Julian the Orator|
Other than those members who attended the PLP delegates' conference in 2009, no one really knows that two months after my father's death and shortly after my 25th birthday I was nominated as Chairperson of the PLP. I didn't allow it to go to vote for me as, standing and shaking, I declined the nomination. I had thought for the previous 24 hours long and hard about it. When I considered why I wanted to take it I realised I didn't have sufficiently admirable reasons. I wanted to 'beat' my dad as he had been Deputy Chairman of the UBP at the age of 26 and I would be younger. The power and prestige was alluring, but I decided it was only when I was completely ready to purely give back to my community and my party could I take such an important role. And in the end my father's voice rang in my ear. He repeatedly said to me, "First you learn, then you earn, then you serve." I knew I still wanted to act and I knew there was plenty of time for me to become involved in politics. I then broke my foot and, unable to pursue a career as a performer during that time, I accepted Dr. Ewart Brown's offer to come into his office. It was my time to LEARN.
And learn I did: about the amazing and the awful; about the influence and the inertia; about the promises and predicaments; about the criticisms and congratulations. It was educational to say the least. This is not a report card on Dr. Brown, although I'm sure that would get a read or two (wait for the book ;). But I will say, despite what may be believed about him, he was a strong, assertive leader who got things done (even though many people disliked his style and substance). I still consider Dr. Brown a dear friend and he taught me more in a year about Bermuda government and politics than I could ever imagined. The only person who educated me more was my father, who I consider a scholar of 20th century Bermudian history.
As for the EARN: Well I'm not there yet. I have far to go, and the recent revelations and accusations being fired out at the moment are, for me, a perfect example as to why one should do this first. If you've got any weaknesses, especially financially, you are in the perfect position to be accused of taking money where and when money should not be received.
And my version of SERVE at the moment is mental health advocacy, but I would one day like to contribute to the development of Bermuda more. The issue is that I have witnessed first hand the ferocity of Bermuda politics and I think that I'm too sensitive a soul for that. I recently read an interview of my father in the Bermuda Sun from 2003. When the journalist suggests that he was tipped by some as future Premier of Bermuda he said, "I doubt very much that it is in my make-up to play that kind of role...It really was a good thing I was never Premier of Bermuda... I don't suffer fools gladly; I am not as immune to the pain that goes with personal attack as perhaps I should be. I am a very sensitive person." He then adds the following: "In order to be a good Premier you have to be a lot more manipulative than I would ever want to be....It is so important that the best, the brightest and the most sincere from all places within the political spectrum be encouraged to present what they have to offer. The party political process is destroying that potential and it is alienating so many people who have so much to offer but who simply cannot participate in what amounts to a vacuous unseemly catfight."
I have many friends across generations who I think could contribute so much to the political landscape, but the cost is too high as it currently stands in Bermuda. It results in a bankruptcy of talent and although many of those friends contribute to the island's development in other ways, such as through organisations like Greenrock and Chewstick, I believe most would acknowledge their influence could go further if they were in positions to do something about it. But with a two-party system in a small, colonial community how can we ever expect them to step up? Everyone knows I'm a Bermuda Progressive Labour Party member and supporter. I bleed green and I do not hide that fact. But I genuinely wanted the One Bermuda Alliance to succeed because I love my country and if a party can achieve economic and social stability then my hat is off to them. From where I stand (which to be fair is over 2000 miles away) that's not what's happening. 'Jetgate' is revealing the lack of transparency the OBA so virulently accused of the PLP. The PLP are not without their flaws, both in the past and currently. Think Media and the Bermuda Sun are revealing all and the Royal Gazette is ignoring everything. Who to believe? What to do? These are divisive questions we shouldn't have to answer. Because we are all family, whether by blood (which many of us are) or by community and you don't choose your family, but you damn well fight for them when the chips are down. It's You, Me and Bermuda against the World, not us all against each other. My father wrote me an email in 2006 after a discussion about the difficulties we as a family were facing at the time saying: "That's what 'family' has to be about. We are all in this together and "we" must be what "we" got."
"We" might be one small dot in the middle of a vast ocean, but just remember, blood is thicker than water.
In love and solidarity.