Vision or perish: So where are the visionaries and the vision?
In this series of articles I have invited you to look at the critical elements to build a great nation: the new Jamaica we all desire. So far we have looked at two fundamental pillars: Justice and Truth. Now, let’s look at a third: Vision.
John Lennon, one of the famous British band The Beatles, wrote a song in 1971 that enraged some and encouraged others. It said in part:
"Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
Writing during the awful days of the Vietnam war, Lennon was attempting to motivate a generation of western citizens to catch a vision of something better than a world at war. However, his vision alienated some because it excluded an aspect of life that many of us hold dear.
Imagine the kind of Jamaica in which you would like to live. What is that? Is it a Jamaica without zinc fences, ghettos, and young men on the corner ‘rubbing out their hand middle’, hopeless, and with nothing to do? Is it a Jamaica where our farmers, manufacturers and businesses are industriously producing goods and services to prosper self, community and nation; enabling Jamaica to prosperously grow and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race? Imagine…
If you can imagine it and see it, then what you are able to see is called vision. This is the basic ingredient from which great nations are built. This is the element that great national leaders possess, along with a passion that drives them to articulate it. The really good visionary leaders never rest until their vision is birthed into reality.
Have we had leaders with this kind of vision? Do we now have leaders with this kind of vision and passion?
Before we answer these questions, here are some other important aspects of vision to consider. A wise politician and wealthy king of long ago, Solomon of Israel, having lived to see his and his father’s vision realised while other nations foundered, and was driven to say: "Without a vision people perish (or live carelessly)." [Proverbs 28:19] I believe this has been our problem since Independence, and continues to a large extent to be our problem. A look at King Solomon’s tenure of leadership would have us instructively realise that:
Vision gives direction.
Vision motivates both leader and follower.
Vision unites and gives focus and clarity to purpose.
Vision raises questions that demand answers. It forces us to look deep inside ourselves to answer issues of identity, beliefs, objectives, and where we want to go and when.
Our founding fathers had a vision for Independence and worked to achieve it — and they did. They gave us a MAP (Motto, Anthem, Pledge) to find and sustain our ultimate vision as an island nation. It was the challenge to their sons to define and build it. The sons never sought for it — at least not hard enough.
Post-Independence we had Michael Manley, who had a vision that excited a people to possibilities and potential and started well, but destroyed it. Then there was Edward Seaga who had vision to restore a path of growth and development and achieved good initiatives. However, both got sidetracked, as their visions were one-sided, which led to harmful defensive pursuits and created the base for many of the negatives we see today.
No other visionary leader has emerged since, except Bruce Golding in some measure. However, he never got the chance to clearly articulate it to the people and implement it. In short, for the last 30 years we have had no driving vision. We have edged along, barely motivated by various programmes and their goals, or by the exciting achievements of individuals like our sprint athletes as well as our football and netball teams.
In the 90s I wrote and distributed a pamphlet to 85 per cent of homes in the Corporate Area with the photographs of the then three political party leaders, bearing the question: Where is the vision?
The question is still before us today. For the signs that we are a perishing and careless-living people seem more and more evident every day.
A vision must make people dream. It should make them able to imagine their personal dream’s fulfilment within the vision. An inspiring vision, though appearing to some as idealistic, should give a view of the future, the hope of a transformed environment in which their values and skills can find expression.
A vision must be declared and shared repeatedly by the visionary or emissary. A national vision has to be echoed by leadership; reinforced in policies, systems and structures; embraced by politicians, civil servants, saints and sinners alike.
What then is in the present vision to make our citizens get up out of bed and perform with gusto? Is it Vision 2030 Jamaica? I am not motivated by it! Are you?
People are not rallied around programmes. What excites and engages is vision that is clearly expressed from the leadership of those who also have the passion and commitment to fulfil it.
There is no clear and agreed cohesive vision that inspires, challenges and motivates our citizens: A vision that each citizen can own, understand and champion because it satisfies his or her personal ambitions, while inspiring commitment to the nation and its development.
Vision 2030 is a plan and programme for development within the framework of a vision. However, it’s far from inspiring a people to action. This is a vision statement from a governmental perspective, not from the people’s perspective, and if embraced, should make every politician and civil servant want to get up every morning and go to work in pursuit of that vision. However, it would not drive me out of bed!
So the nation still awaits that clear and total vision that lights its fire, one that it can fully embrace and work toward achieving. The Jamaica Labour Party has shared a partial vision for prosperity. This is a step in the right direction, but does it inspire and have the right balance to guide and inform all development processes of the nation? Can it unite, rally and inspire all citizens to high-performance output? I don’t think so. Jamaica still awaits a visionary and vision. Imagine…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us… next week for Part 2.
Al Miller is pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle. Send comments to the Observer or