Monday, April 24, 2017

‘Won’t you help to sing … Redemption Song!’

Observer column published MON 17 April 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Her last Facebook post was of an animated cat, wishing everyone a friendly “‘Goog’ Morning!”  However, Dawn Nugent did not live to see last Wednesday morning.  She had driven to her home in Golden Spring, St. Andrew after a church meeting last Tuesday evening, and was murdered.  Members of the Immaculate Conception Church in Stony Hill and the Tom’s River Mission are grieving her loss. They posted: “Dawn was a woman of prayer …We have been blessed by her ministry and passion for the faith.”

And so this Holy Week, as I pondered the tragic death of a giving, Christian woman and too many others, I had to turn to the words of Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr: “Undeserved suffering is redemptive.”  During our Good Friday meditation on the agony and death of Christ, I wondered if Jamaica was getting the strongest of messages: this undeserved suffering of Jamaica’s innocents could indeed be redemptive, but only if we become agents of that redemption.

We must discern the illogic of one set of headlines preening about big plans, while another is screaming crime.  Redemption will come when the two political parties, whose members eat and drink together, release from their bosoms the thugs who prevent poor people in garrisons from crossing a street to visit a relative. As we contemplate the triumph of the resurrection, no doubt celebrated by our leaders and their family at various church services, we appeal to them to raise  their standard of leadership. 

Vision 2030 will only be a facile slogan if they cannot protect their people. Political brinkmanship has brought us to this sorry pass, and only political will can take us out of it. Newcomers to politics have a great opportunity to make a stand for justice.  It is more difficult for those who have been long in the system to drop the tribalist baggage, but what a great day it would be if they decide to do so.  Jamaica, blessed with great people, great climate, great natural resources could rise to dizzying heights, if only she could get the chance. With every corrupt act, every bureaucratic obstacle, every crime, we are driving away Jamaica’s promising young professionals. 

You would think that our political representatives would see this situation as a national emergency and be arriving early at the House of Parliament to set to work on sound governance.  Not so, testified a photograph posted on social media by a journalist at the starting time for Parliament last Tuesday. Only two MPs were present.

Civil society must strengthen itself.  We can help motivate representatives of both political parties to protect the citizens they have pledged to serve. They must now have the moral fibre to step up to the responsibility of power – the power to give their country a legacy of enlightened leadership.  Be of good courage, sisters and brothers of Gordon House. Please take up the challenge of Bob Marley: “Won’t you help to sing – Redemption Song!”  

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