Principles and confidence

Michael BURKE

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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I have argued time and again that crime and violence is endemic to our country. It goes back to the days of the pirates who were devoid of principles. Henry Morgan, the famous pirate captain, was made governor of Jamaica to control piracy in the late 1600s. He did this by selling land cheaply to pirates and they became the aristocracy.

From that day forward we have had a problem with crime and violence. Add to that the plantation mentality in Jamaica; we have never really had the confidence to go ahead with a real plan to change our people from within rather than by consequences.

The plantation mentality was strengthened after the Morant Bay rebellion in 1865. A police force was established primarily to ensure that the poor black masses of Jamaica never again rise up against the plantocracy. Although Jamaica is now 52 years politically independent, the police force is not seen as a means of protecting the entire citizenry.

This in turn has stymied the sort of growth in confidence that is necessary for our people to advance. Indeed, it does appear that before we can teach our people anything we have to deal with the whole matter of confidence. It is this lack of confidence among Jamaicans that has held us back.

Out of the riots in 1938 came the trade unions. But in modern times the trade unions have done little or nothing to push the Employee Share Ownership Programme (ESOP). In his book A voice at the workplace, the late Michael Manley wrote of a tradition that had developed on certain sugar estates.

The cane reapers were essentially cultivators and their crops would need reaping at the same time that the sugar cane would be harvested. How did they get around that? They would create an excuse to call a strike on the sugar estates so that they could reap their own crops.

One would have thought that after many decades of trade unionism that the workers would simply be given the week or so to reap their crops and then return to the estates to cut the canes. But it would eliminate the use of the trade unions and the officers and they would be out of work. In other countries the trade unions charge fees for training workers in co-operative business and share ownership.

Recently, a Jamaican priest of the Roman Catholic Church gave the following opinion: Jamaicans who own cars will wash their cars up to three times a day. They will also take care of their homes, if they own them, and make them quite attractive. But the public spaces are filled with garbage. And our people do nothing about it because they do not feel as if they own the towns and, by extension, Jamaica.

One would have hoped that with so many Jamaicans being members of co-operatives, especially credit unions, we would have developed a sense of collective ownership through co-operative education. But how many co-operative members have received co-operative education?

And the sense of ownership would have gone a long way in developing confidence among our people. In the early days no one could join a credit union unless they had been trained for six months in co-operative principles of share ownership. This was downplayed because banks gave their clients loans without any form of training.

This past Sunday, Look at life on RJR (sponsored by the Brethren Church) spoke to the whole matter of the sexual education course sponsored by Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) in six children's homes and done without official permission. Someone on the radio programme spoke about "an invisible hand" that has changed the JFJ to a position of equating homosexuality with normal behaviour.

The 'invisible hand' is really a method of infiltration, which the gay movement has been very efficient at deploying. But it is also true that the co-operative movement that started out with the ideals of equality which are still there, has slowly moved from that, especially the credit unions.

Today, most of the members of credit unions and other co-operatives do not know that their entities belong to themselves. Has any organisation infiltrated the co-operative movement? If so, which one(s)?

Christian churches have also been victims of infiltration by the agents of evil. The Old Testament has the prophets telling the people to come back to the teachings of Almighty God. In the New Testament, we read in 1st Peter 5:7: "Be sober, be watchful for your adversary, the devil goes about like a roaring lion ready and waiting to devour you."

Also in the New Testament, St Paul was always telling the newly formed churches that they are (in summary) to "act according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). The point in all this is that it is so easy to fall into sin and vice and be inattentive to the 'invisible hand'.

Too many Jamaicans sat back while the gay movement made strong inroads into the country by the 'invisible hand'. Yes, they were always here, and yes, it was always done behind closed doors. And yes, many have always made gays feel that they are less than human -- an uncharitable act, which is a sin. But now it seems to be the reverse.

Many Jamaicans are today objective enough to say that the private lives of adult gays behind closed doors are of no concern to them. But too many gays say that is not enough and want to flaunt their lifestyles in public and influence children. This is unacceptable.

But do we have the confidence to fight this issue, especially as the gays have so much money at their disposal? How many persons have compromised their principles to the point that they are resigned to compromising all of their principles as the easy way out?

Principles stand on a foundation of values and attitudes. PJ Patterson as prime minister emphasised values and attitudes during his tenure but some people were more interested in 'shooting the messenger' and not dealing with the message. But before we can assert any principles we have to develop self-confidence and a sense of collective ownership.




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