Auld Lang Syne: A New Year for Our Cayman Islands

Thanks to the genius and prescience of the architect of the Gregorian calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII who introduced it in 1582), we each year at this time look to the turning of another temporal page and an opportunity for celebration, resolution and optimism.

In this, the last issue (and editorial) of the Cayman Compass of the year, we are drawn to the divides that demarcate 2014 from 2015, but also to the issues that unite us as a people.

It is both customary and instructive to take this moment on the cusp of the calendar change to reflect on past occurrences and to assess possibilities and potentialities for the future.

The rituals, songs and celebrations in which we will partake tonight are upbeat and useful reminders of much of the underlying nature of our lives. As alluded to by the imagery of Father Time greeting and sending off Baby New Year, everything old becomes new, and even that soon becomes old.

Now is a time when we make, or revive, personal pledges, and perhaps in doing so partly forgive ourselves for the ones we have failed to keep.

Individually and collectively, we will resolve to become physically fit, quit smoking or “be kinder” to our fellow man. We will focus on improving ourselves and our country. On this (and all) New Year’s Eves, we will not dwell on lost opportunities.

This in fact may be the most singularly positive aspect of every new year.

Nevertheless, if a single theme emerges from recent recitations in the Compass of the year gone by, it is that we as a country carry into 2015 (and beyond) a substantial burden of unfinished business. Much of it has been neglected for generations — from our inadequate schools to our overflowing landfill to our underfunded pensions and healthcare programs. Our infrastructure — from our airport to our seaport — is crying out for scarce or nonexistent public resources. In many instances, these issues will take many more “new years” to address and resolve.

That being said, however, there is one issue from 2014 that cannot wait.

We speak, of course, of Minister Osbourne Bodden’s verbal assault on his Chief Officer, Jennifer Ahearn. In his own profane words, Mr. Bodden put on public display a rare trifecta of personal prejudice: gender, race and national bias.

This issue has embarrassed and united the country as no other we have witnessed in recent years. The outrage expressed in island-wide conversations, reflected in media outlets, is in stark contrast to the silence exhibited by Premier Alden McLaughlin and the PPM government he leads.

In Premier McLaughlin’s 2,094-word New Year’s message (see Page 2), which includes a lengthy retrospective of the PPM’s last year in power, the Premier neglects to allocate even one syllable to the controversy surrounding Minister Bodden.

Such silence can be interpreted only as tacit approval, moral blindness, or collective cowardice by Mr. McLaughlin and his Cabinet colleagues. It does not reflect the inherent goodness of the people of these Cayman Islands.

In fact, such silence by our leaders is something that we as a country must not tolerate.

Not today, not tomorrow, not in the new year, not in the election year of 2017. Not ever.

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