Friday, January 20, 2012

An honest look at Jamaica

Observer column | Mon 16 Jan 2012 (excerpts)
Jean Lowrie-Chin

In our already tiny country, social media is putting us under the miroscope and will herald a new breed of leaders, whether already clean or newly reformed. It’s a good thing that Contractor General Greg Christie did not need this kind of scrutiny to do his job well, and so he hastened the process of getting folks to straighten up and fly right. We are proud that the Trinidad & Tobago Parliament has invited him to share his experiences as they develop their guidelines for the award of contracts.

Those who have never passed a dollar under the table to get anywhere, have a simple secret: we were brought up to love honest work and to despise dishonest gain. In circles where graft is a given, we have been burned many times, but are still dismayed every time it happens.

How are we going to nurture a more honest nation? We will have to promote the value of diligence alongside the importance of a good education. This nation was built by Jamaicans who, before they picked up their schoolbooks and headed off to school, hewed wood and drew water. They became accomplished women and men, never shy of heavy lifting and confident in themselves. Capable and honourable people do not stoop to the devious acts of second rate shysters.

Our leaders need prayer

We have been seeing many prayerful moments with the installation of a new administration. This Thursday, representatives of Government and Opposition will gather at the annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast to ask for God’s guidance. Each year as the Prime Minister - sometimes JLP, sometimes PNP - ascends the stage to read, we note that the only constant and enduring presence there is the Holy Bible.

It is a sober reminder that we are all frail humans who must eventually return to our Maker and account for the conduct of our lives. In the United States of America, today is celebrated as the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, a man whose relentless non-violent struggle for equality for people of colour resulted in the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It is worthwhile to remember MLK’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ as our leaders make themselves ready, whether for Parliament, the Senate, cabinet, shadow cabinet or parish council.

“More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will,” wrote Dr King. “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

He continued, “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.”

Thank you and Happy Birthday Dr King.

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