By Hon. McKeeva Bush
As we approach and count down to the New Year, we ought to take the opportunity to reflect and prepare for what is ahead. Despite a few unfortunate stories which may have impacted our collective consciousness, there are still promising and countless experiences and developments from last year that remind us we are prosperous, fortunate and blessed across these Islands.
We need to get involved and engaged and keep changing for the better in 2019 and to continue to encourage one another in a positive way. There needs to be a sense of self-reliance and we need to cultivate self-respect. Unfortunately, there are instances and a noticeably increasing tendency for influential persons conducting themselves with arrogance rather than humility.
I think that far too many of the people themselves are divided, more than ever it seems, and one challenge above all else that faces us right now is how to recapture a sense of unity and harness the forces that strengthen us rather than those that divide us.
Moreover, there is the issue of dysfunctional family units. This breakdown causes critical social deficit in our society and family structure. Regardless of our schools and churches which serve to reinforce basic values, it is within the family that these traits are formed and nurtured. It is in the family unit that behaviour is inculcated and where values of love and tolerance and respect are instilled.
Our fortunes for 2019 and beyond will undoubtedly depend to a great extent on ourselves – every single one of us – in how we conduct ourselves, how we behave towards one other, how we live as a community, how we avoid or resolve our disputes, and how we bring up our children and take care of the most vulnerable in our society. For this, let’s adhere and comport with the useful saying: “Build better families, lead to better homes; Build better homes, lead to better communities; Build better communities, lead to a better Society.”
Let’s commend the volunteers in the various social clubs in the country for their good cause, who have helped, and continue to assist, with the development and building of the society. I anticipate and encourage all patriotic Caymanians and residents alike to mount a partnership with churches, schools, civic bodies and community-based organizations. Let’s prepare ourselves for the changes that are inevitable, as they will require hard decisions to be made.
There are understandable cases which unfortunately require Government involvement, but I reassure you that we have the character and courage to demonstrate self-reliance and self-sufficiency despite our individual circumstances. We all as individuals can show the conviction and purpose to achieve our full potential and goals in life, once we apply ourselves.
There is a preponderance of evidence in the form of statistics and otherwise which indicate that in spite of our challenges, we are on a progressing and unified front in most instances. Our economic growth and low unemployment rate have all combined to make the past year a good one for the Cayman Islands. No one can reasonably argue or deny that the feeling of optimism and hope in our society is on the up and up. This is achieved through planning, hard work and perseverance.
Let’s keep ourselves healthy with the appropriate lifestyle which includes, but not limited to, exercise. Let’s embark on educational opportunities in order to upskill ourselves and make ourselves more marketable and productive. We should freely express our God-given talents and work together for the good of these Islands.
We ought not to lose sight of the vision of creating a society of opportunity where each and every one is a shareholder in our prosperous Cayman Islands.
Undoubtedly, we must press on with all the processes by which the economy can grow and our efforts must be genuine and for the concern of Caymanians and Residents alike.
The idea of sharing is nothing new to Caymanians. When people in one yard are poor, they survive by sharing. This kindness is instinctive generosity towards another human being, and is one of the greatest and most enduring and integral features of the Cayman way of life.
We must commit ourselves to continue caring for the poor, older persons, persons with disability, the children, and all the disadvantaged. For too long, far too many have been content to leave our Christian principles at the church door and have not extended those Christian principles to our basic living standard and decisions that they take, when they have the means to help.
In the advent of the New Year, I commend you to look at the past so that you may learn its lessons, but not to become overly preoccupied with it. Rather, I suggest that you consider the future and grasp the opportunities for great achievement because our future must be one of great hope - where ideals are achieved. It can be a future not only of material prosperity but above all, of spiritual fulfillment, a future in which we can all share.
Many of you have asked me why I am not talking on some of the issues. As all of you know, I am the Speaker of the House and I don’t attend any party meetings or the Government Caucus and have chosen to stay away from the day-to-day Politics. I would have served over 36 years at the end of this term. And so when I decided to help form the Coalition Government, it was a recognition that I know our vast amount of voters wanted a change from the usual political fighting. They wanted a change.
I know the coalition is working for the benefit of our people – the day I feel otherwise, I will say so. However, policies and things I have fought for over the years are being implemented. And “things already better”. This is so because government is working hard and because the coalition is working as a unit. Not having to fight amongst ourselves – as unity is strength.
Education is being improved – civil servants are being cared for. Our airport is nearing completion, Tourism is booming – decisions is being made for the Dock to proceed. The plans for Waste Management are moving in the right direction. Special “Work Programmes” to give people extra – or needed money have been put in place. Infrastructure work is being done all the time. The economy is booming, so our people are benefitting.
Yet there are challenges still. Our Financial Industry is being challenged – the Finance Minister and the Premier have their hands full – they are working hard to ensure our Islands will remain relevant to those who use our services.
All this is done by the Coalition Government, not one side – it is the work of a government who understands what needs to be done. If this were not so, I would have told you.
Yes, there are challenges now and challenges will continue as we are a developing country. There are developments I believe we should move to, to ensure that our children and grandchildren’s future is one where there will be a good livelihood for them.
I want to see buildings’ heights move to 50 storeys – even if only for one building - for tourism, residential and commercial businesses to make a mark in the region, so that the wealthiest among the wealthy will work, shop and live there, to set us apart in the region: shopping for the wealthiest, homes and businesses for the wealthiest who want something different. This can bring a new economy – so that the vagaries of the Metropolitan and powerful countries do not threaten our existence and the future for our children can remain sustainable.
There is the challenge that traffic, more so for the Eastern districts, is bringing. Government will have to put the East-West corridor on the front burner.
Those are matters that I have hope will start to be addressed in the New Year.
As we advance and progress, we need to be mindful of the necessity to embrace positive values and attitudes in the society. I encourage you to treat one other in a mutually respectful and gentle manner.
Let us demonstrate this quality in how we speak to each other, even during disagreements, in how we drive on our roads and in the goods and services that we provide.
A fresh new year is once again upon us; it’s the time to be thankful for the blessings of the past year and to take stock of all our achievements. Live a healthy lifestyle and engage or embark on educational opportunities in order to upskill yourself academically, technically/ vocationally or otherwise. Become more marketable and qualified.
At the same time, I implore you all to act selfless and be keen and enthusiastic for what you can achieve this 2019. I am confident with God’s mercies, we will continue to progress as we enhance our quality of life in the Cayman Islands.
And so I have Hope – believing in what God can do; what He has done for us. The New Year is just ahead; so, I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.”
Blessings to all of you for the year ahead!