Political advice for young Bermudians

I was very impressed but also saddened by Eron Hill’s recent opinion piece advising young Bermudians to be careful with regards to entering local politics.  Being a young Bermudian who has also been very vocal in expressing my opinion over the years I can feel and appreciate Mr. Hill’s dismay at the state of politics and its inherent risks.  Bermuda so desperately wants and needs its youth to get more involved and yet there are so many reasons that it can be a bad idea to do so.

I have seen those who are in politics for the wrong reason, or who entered into politics for the right reasons but rushed in and did not set up a solid foundation professionally, and when politics was done with them, found themselves unable to find work or clinging on to any political position they could as a means of survival as opposed to service to their fellow Bermudians.

When you get on an airplane they instruct you “in the event of an emergency, it is important that you secure your own oxygen mask first before attempting to assist others”.  It is sadly a fitting analogy.  You really can’t help anyone if you haven’t secured yourself first.

This is the reality of politics. So many genuinely get involved because they want to make a difference but it is easy to be targeted or taken advantage of if you’re vulnerable. The risks of getting involved too early is that you’re beholden to others who can control you or want to make life difficult for you.  Even after you’re established, you could face considerable risks. There are some who are involved more for how they can personally benefit than for what they can do to benefit Bermuda.  They might not appreciate it if you harbour alternate priorities such as wanting to put Bermuda first.

Before us, many have rushed on to the scene, demanding that those before them relinquish power and embrace a new generation. This has led to nothing but conflict and bitter divides amongst those who otherwise could have been great counterparts. Regardless of whatever party one supports, there is no secret that your affiliation, support, or connection with one party, or a member of that party can result in exclusion of opportunities, jobs, and scholarships that otherwise would have been afforded to you.

Having written this blog for years now my fear is that I’ve succeeded in pissing off and making enemies on both sides of the fence.  I have always tried to remain independent and as fair as possible in my views, though I am by no means perfect.  There are times when I myself wonder if I indeed have made silent enemies.  Does it perhaps rather neatly explain some opportunities that have passed me by or am I simply imagining things that aren’t there?  Bermuda is such a small community, can one be involved and voice their opinion without fear of repercussions?

I think this is what leaves many youth feeling disillusioned and unrepresented by the political process. The millennial generation has grown up in an altogether different environment that is foreign to older generations. We have had far greater connectivity with the world than any before us and have been raised with more of a sense of equality than ever existed before. I could today address our Premier as easily as I could the president-elect of the United States via mediums like twitter. Perhaps I wouldn’t be answered, but I very well could be heard by others. It is a new and foreign concept to have such a power to be heard and a struggle if one feels like their efforts fall on deaf ears.

Today’s youth want to be involved and given the opportunity to be heard. It is our future which is on the line especially as Bermuda is not as prosperous as it once was.  Many want to be involved but don’t want to be caught in the rivalry that seems more suited for college sports teams than determining Bermuda’s future.  Further there is the fear of personal risk as Bermuda can be a very small an interconnected place where people will use their relationships as leverage against you. Bermuda needs its youth to be involved, but at what cost?

I appreciate and agree with Mr. Hills advice.  I wholly recommend others do the same.  Build your career.  Experience and educate yourself on the larger world that is out there.  Secure yourself first before attempting to assist others.  Politics isn’t something to rush into no matter how much you’d like to help the island and your fellow Bermudian.