PROFESSIONAL JAMAICANS FOR JAMAICA
Esmie L. Walters Essay Competition 2011
SPONSORED BY HORACE A. DALEY, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, PJFJ
Topic: Explain this Quote: ‘Lifting as We Climb’.
WINNING ESSAY BY LANVELL A. BLAKE JR
St. Elizabeth Technical High School (Sixth-Form)
You might appreciate the deliberateness that influenced the selection of “Coming together as one people” as the title and focus of my essay.
For me, Lifting as We Climb means that as you climb, move towards your goal you help to uplift not only yourself but your community, your country and it could also be seen as symbolic where you become a model for others as you motivate or uplift them as well.
Personally, Lifting as we climb, means that as I climb the ladder of success, elevate myself, I am also in the process of trying to help others ‘reach the top’ as well. I show my unselfish love for others by giving them a helping hand, not allowing others that are ‘less fortunate’ to ‘fall by the wayside’, but instead help them to elevate themselves into productive individuals of society, contributing to nation building- “United we stand, and divided we fall”. Lifting as we climb, emphasizes teamwork, and that we are all in this together, and that really nobody ever gets anywhere without the help of others. It’s humbling. It reminds us not to be so self-focused but to assist as much individuals we can in our quest for success.
Those familiar with the early Chinese philosophy may point to the “YIN-YANG” principle. This principle explains the balance that is necessary in human behaviour. It implies how having a basic understanding of “give and take” could improve human relationships, and ultimately bring about a better world/society. It is simple “one hand can’t clap” and it takes “two to tango”. This is why we must aspire to come together as one people, lifting as we climb, because the commonness of our humanity imposes such conditions that we truly need each other. Now, as a farmer needs rain and a baker needs flour, so too do we need one another. We need each other help us to win the fight to overcome the bad stereotypes that have held us back in the backwaters of life. After all, “No man is an island. No, man stands alone”. We need to lift each other as we climb.
And since we were socialized to separate ourselves and to see ourselves through vastly different prisms from how we see our less fortunate brothers and sister, coming together as one people could continue to be a fleeting dream for many around the world. For, year-in-year-out, our only purpose is to expand the kingdom of the crab. It is a state where we are perpetually at war; pulling each other down in order to push ourselves forward, because we cannot stand to see the other crab crawl out of the barrel ahead of us; even when that forward movement stands to benefit the larger group. We call it the “crab in a barrel’ syndrome.
The results from these behaviours manifest themselves in ways unthinkable. We kill our own ideas. We do not ventilate our misgivings in amicable ways. We amplify the negatives. We dig ditches for our brothers and sisters to fall in them, without knowing that we could be “hoisted by our own petards”. We play tricks, backbite, plot, and weave some monumental webs. We come to the table of dialogue always well-prepared to defend, but never to amend, our proposals.
We must overcome other deeply entrenched socio-cultural barriers. You see, we erected these enormous fortresses of stratification just to protect our individual status, but none of it was earned. Yet, we claim paternity, so we can wallow in self-importance; without an ounce of mortality to back it up. And no references ever made to the commonness of our humanity, or to the sameness of the essential elements and functioning of our bodies! Still, "we are cooled by the same winter, warmed by the same summer, and if you prick us, we all bleed!"
The impact has been painful and we still struggle with extricating ourselves from the paradigm of the plantation.
If there are any doubts about the lasting legacy from the plantation culture, just look about you for today’s form of class prejudice that mirrors those divisions between the house slaves and field slaves. And if there are any questions about the harsh realities of racism then just look about you for today’s version of that saying: “If you are white then you’re right, if you’re brown stick around, but if you’re black stay back”.
There are other times too when coming together as one people is very difficult not because of any of the aforementioned conditions, but because of our obedience to, and reliance on, the weird dogma of mental and psychological supremacy. Some of us harbour the foolish thought of being better than the person sitting next to us, and then justify it by pointing to advanced sociological and psychological development. They never get access to the contracts or contacts and do not have a seat at the table, but we do not try to help them up, we push them down.
There are great benefits to be derived from coming together as one people: the benefits are not limited to financial matters, they go far beyond that to include social cohesion, cultural preservation, environmental protection, environmental, technological advancements, political stability, good and effective governance and importantly to create networks of ideas. I hope my friends in CARICOM could hear and understand the urgency that must accompany the finalization for CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Economy)- for instance- coming together as one people is as parochial as it is regional.
And finally, let the coming together motivate us to action, where we hold ourselves accountable for our behaviour, where were decry foolishness and condemn hate, discord, violence, disingenuousness and pretense. For in the long run only when we join forces together, speak on one accord, lock hands and hearts in the movement to advance ourselves, our communities and our country will we be true stewards of this precious citizenship we hold-first as Jamaicans and then as citizens of the world.
Esmie L. Walters Essay Competition
Name: Lanvell A. Blake Jr
Proof of I.D: See attached school picture
Address: Accompong Town
Name of School: St. Elizabeth Technical High School (Sixth-Form)
Name of Parent: Lanvell A. Blake (Snr.)