A time for good, clean... work
It will be the purposeful dedication of those Jamaicans who do their work and do it well that will pull our country out of its economic slump. These are the folks who understand the importance of creating, planning, budgeting, and time management as they set about to implement projects. These are the individuals who do not hesitate to produce detailed reports and proof of objectives met. They are the most dignified and respected among us, because they have no fear of the biggest challenges and the toughest obstacles.
These are the citizens who eventually become heroes of family, community and country. As we gathered at the National Heroes Park last Monday for a birthday tribute to the late Sir Alexander Bustamante, we reflected on the effort it must have taken this national hero to travel the length and breadth of Jamaica building Jamaica's labour movement and eventually the Jamaica Labour Party.
We reflected on his fellow hero, Norman Manley, who nurtured party and union as well, and founded Jamaica Welfare Limited to promote self-reliance among Jamaica's grass roots. How would they be feeling today about their successors, leaders of what my former editor at the Daily News George Graham referred to as "a barefoot country", when he announced his plans to migrate in the 70s.
If our MPs, councillors, and public sector workers decided today that they would serve as stated when they took their oaths of office and signed their letters of employment, there is nothing so difficult about Jamaica that could not be solved. Where is their shame for those suffering folks living in terrible circumstances whom we see on the news night after night mourning the loss of yet another family member to violence?
Eastern Kingston has seen gang warfare claiming the life of a 17-month-old infant, while a father lost his life protecting that of his baby in what appeared to be a reprisal attack. The latest we heard on Thursday night was the strangulation of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Spanish Town and the violent death of 26-year-old bank clerk Dwayne Grigg of Duhaney Park. For the bereaved of the tens of thousands of murdered Jamaicans there is hardly any closure to their anguish, as the matter of justice reform moves at a snail's pace.
Commissioner Ellington's plea
This is why we should sympathise with our security forces, as they are the ones who must contend with the monsters created by an uncaring system passed from one administration to the next. All the lengthy discussions and plans for better governance seem to have come to naught.
And so it is left to the police to become pastor, social worker and go-between as they try to protect themselves from the gang vendetta that has been declared against them and threatens the safety of all decent Jamaicans.
Observer reporter Tanesha Mundle wrote last Thursday of a joint initiative called "Steps for Hope, Unite for Change". She quoted Police Commissioner Owen Ellington as saying: "Do not tolerate crime any longer, break your silence about criminality even if it involves your own; it's about crime in the end, and let us get rid of the gangs in the community, let us give the community a chance to settle down and prosper and let us give ourselves a chance ...unless there is change in the community at the level of good people who will summon the courage to break their silence, to become intolerant to criminals, gangs, gangsters and those benefiting from crime we are not going to win the fight against crime."
May we add that unless attention is given to the many project applications gathering dust on desks in various government ministries and agencies, the gangs will have many more recruits among our unemployed, ready and waiting to join their ranks. Low productivity and corruption, play a deathly role in our economic and social woes. As usual, it is only the police that seem to be everybody's beating stick.
David Hall's call for ganja legalisation
In a recent letter to the press, David Hall, former Digicel CEO and founder of VIP Attractions, said that the legalisation of ganja could be a boon for Jamaica at a time when "our biggest plague is unemployment".
"I am always looking for game-changers," wrote David Hall, "and I sincerely believe that, if executed properly, ganja can bring the country many advantages in the agricultural and tourism sectors not to mention the spin-offs. Colorado has collected US$100m in taxes so far. ..The US has opened the door with their law changes in some states and we need to drive through that door now!"
"Of course, as a country, we will need to be responsible on how we legislate. But let's plan and execute properly so we can take advantage," said the savvy Irish-Jamaican. This is great advice from a well-thinking entrepreneur and philanthropist who has walked the talk for Jamaica.
Dr Lilieth Nelson's timely lecture
For the annual Sir Philip Sherlock Lecture, Dr Lilieth Nelson gave us a thoughtful presentation on 'Revisiting the concept of aesthetic strengthening through the creative arts' (full script at my blog linked below).
She said that Sir Philip was described by Professor Rex Nettleford as one of "the chosen few who believed that the intractable problems of underdevelopment and attendant immiseration of the mass of the population had to be met by the empowerment of our people through their intellect and the creative imagination".
With degrees in science and education, Lilieth Nelson is a multi-talented marvel, having been a director of the University Singers, a published poet, and entrepreneur. By tracing the development of the University Singers and various interviews, she illustrated the importance of nurturing our students both aesthetically and academically.
"The thesis of this lecture is confined to the role of the creative arts in aesthetic strengthening," noted Dr Nelson, "but it is recognised that other aspects of being in the Caribbean would benefit from strengthening through such areas as economic and financial planning and management...organising for education opportunities and gainful employment of the young in order to teach them the work ethic and set them on the path to independence, integrity and positive influence in political leadership, environmental planning, and management with foresight."
Dr Nelson's lecture awakens us to the importance of the aesthetic — it is that part of us that celebrates the joy of our humanity — let us embrace it to lift our country.