The following speech is the Youth Wing Opening Speech, delivered by H. Alicia Kirby at the 2019 Annual Delegates Conference (ADC)
As you all know, the topic for this year's Progressive Labor Party's Annual Delegates Conference is 'Transforming Bermuda, Transforming Ourselves', however I want to challenge you all to consider this topic in the reverse. The former should be consequential to the latter. We as a people must focus on transforming ourselves in order to transform Bermuda. The 2019 theme puts our people at the center of our development, as its ultimate beneficiaries.
Whilst often looked passed or purposefully forgotten, Black Bermudians have a long legacy of creating transformation on this island and throughout the world. The problem with transformation is that most people forget it is a process, and a slow one, but quitting won't speed it up. When the party was founded in 1963, our platform called for equitable taxation, an end to racial discrimination, economic parity and welfare programs, as well as housing, educational and electoral reform. Although almost six decades have passed since the formation of the island’s oldest political party, many of our struggles are still the same. The fight for independence,
Bermuda's ultimate transformation began 3 generations ago and its heartbreaking to hear stalwarts of the party paining from the same grievances they did half a century ago. I must remind you; we cannot give up on the dream just because of the time it takes to accomplish it. Time will pass anyway.
We are not the same Bermuda from a year ago or even a month ago. Every hurricane season we are tested and with each storm, we transform. We rally together, using our strengths and transform into expert meteorologists, outdoorsman, repairman, news reporters, and much more until our island is restored. We as a people are used to wearing many hats to get the job done. It cannot be disputed that there is anywhere else of the face of earth that can be beaten by a Category 3 hurricane, 125mph winds, and some tornados, only to recover within less than 12 hours. Every year, we stand strong in the face of adversary and prove that not only can we withstand destruction beyond our control, but we can adapt and come out better and more resilient than before.
I must emphasize that transformation is not about disregarding the core ideals of the party or forgetting our history. It’s about new ideas. It’s about new ways of working. It’s about empowering people and unlocking their potential. It’s about refreshing and modernizing the organization. We have to be clear on that. It’s how change can be successful. It’s a mindset issue.
The transformation will be hard. You will feel frightened, we will mess up. We will be knocked down and we will want to stop, but it's the best work we will ever do.
Surface changes are not sufficient. Bermudians need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
We must be tired of being complacent where the efforts from decades ago are just good enough.
If you're not uncomfortable, you're not being challenged enough. We must switch from transactional thinking to transformational thinking. If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get the same results. Something needs to change in order for things to change. In any given moment we have two options, step forward into growth or step back to safety.
Maya Angelou once said, 'We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has to come through to achieve that beauty". No one ever talks about the middle phase. You know the part where you're no longer a caterpillar and not yet a butterfly. You don't know who you are and where you are going, but every fiber in your body is calling for transformation. For disruption.
This is not the death of you. This is the dying of who you once were. This is our rebirth, and these are just growing pains.
Indeed, fundamental transformations in the way the island lives, works, and does business are needed for building climate resilient, eco-friendly and black empowered economies and societies of the future. The theme for this year's ADC challenges us to transform for people and for
Bermuda, to transform how we understand and how we strive for prosperity and to travel a road to transformation based on peace, stability, inclusion, and self-sustainability.
Transforming Bermuda conveys an image of development as being about achieving overall wellbeing, based on people living longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. Reaching the goals will require both political will and smart strategies to reach the last-mile of exclusion and confront the often painful and entrenched biases which have left those excluded behind.
When we think of what it means to be prosperous, we are somehow drawn instinctively towards ideals of high incomes, vibrant industrial activity, and bustling metropolitan hubs. The tendency still is to measure success by how fast our economy grows. Shared prosperity, however, calls for consideration of not only the rate of economic growth but also its quality. Good economic performance needs to translate into inclusive and sustainable development which reduces poverty and inequality while also protecting our planet.
Transforming Bermuda will come with resistance, setbacks and a whole lot of doubt. We are all here excited and can envision ourselves transformed but I warn you, old paradigms, patterns, and behaviors will smother us.
Transformation is not something that happens to somebody else, somewhere else. We all have a stake in it, and everyone has work to do to progress towards it. The good news is that our island has more wealth, more knowledge, and more technologies at its disposal than ever before. The challenges we face are mostly human induced. We can tackle them, but not if we keep doing business as usual and expecting different results. Transformation begins the moment we stop waiting for someone else to rescue us. Transformation begins with speaking up against the status quo.
The time is now. If you had a life threatening disease would you say, I’m just not ready to get treatment or I don't have time right now or I'll wait until my finances are in a better place? No, you'd fight like hell. So, do the same for Bermuda, our lives depend on it.