Thursday, November 5, 2009

Towards the greater good

Minna Israel calling for 'greater financial literacy'

Jamaica Observer column | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN
(click on title for full column)

Monday, November 02, 2009 - Last week, a fine young man Gary, from the inner city called to tell me his brother, Bob (not real names), had been murdered. Gary said that Bob did a little farming and each Saturday would set up his stall to sell his produce. Bob's only mistake was to be living in a section of a community from whence it was alleged a killer had taken the lives of two men from the other side. Community members decided to avenge their friends' death and Bob, out in the open trying to make an honest living, was an easy target. Another good life snuffed out by no-goods.

When we read such reports, sad to say, we check the address and mentally move on if the victim is not from our neighbourhood or our circle. If Gary had not become a friend of our family, we may have had the same reaction, so inured have we become to news of yet another terrible death. But Gary's brave voice, cracking as he described his grief and shock at seeing his brother's body, brought us to tears.

Gary was bright enough to get a place at a traditional high school, but sometimes had to walk several miles to attend classes on days when bus fare was short. Gary passed his subjects and now works and attends university part-time. He still has to skimp on food but is beloved at his workplace where he is energetic and creative.

Gary has decided to keep his faith and his dignity, fighting off all inclinations for bitterness or revenge. When someone asked him where were the police when his brother was killed, he answered, "They had been patrolling all day but they just can't be everywhere." What a refreshing reply from an inner-city dweller who has seen the shortcomings of some police throughout his life.

In order to keep Gary's dignity and hope alive, we have to promote an environment of productivity and harmony. If he were not supported by mentors, how could he know that he can still see a way in life despite his cruel loss? If he had not had positive experiences with good police, how would he still be able to defend them? This is the vital link between all the stakeholders in our society. This is the reason why the Partnership for Progress first proposed by the PSOJ must never be allowed to become a casualty of narrow partisan politics.

Profit from ethical business, support for honest endeavour, protection of the less fortunate and efficient government are necessary to keep Jamaica up and running. We support the recent call of Bankers Association President Minna Israel for "greater financial literacy" so more of us can understand the symbiotic relationship between individual responsibility, good business and strong government. While we must attend to our respective agendas, we cannot expect lasting outcomes if we do not operate within the context of Jamaica's greater good.

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