Is it too far-fetched for us to imagine a kinder, gentler, more disciplined Jamaica or are we too far gone? Imagine a Jamaica with less hostility, where each looks out for the other, and all are interested in seeing the country's development recognising that Jamaica's prosperity benefits each individual. Imagine a country whose citizens have been resocialised to value hard work, where violence and crassness are not glorified, where the rule of law counts, and Jamaica is the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business. An elusive dream?
This is the Jamaica I would love to see and I believe it's achievable. For me, the great thing about it is that we don't need more social programmes or millions of dollars to fix many of these things. I believe there are small, practical steps each person can take for us to collectively improve Jamaica. But we must start with changing our mindset, acknowledging there is work to be done and that each person has a role to play. There needs to be a willingness to address the issues; there ought to be a determination towards creating lasting change which benefits us all. And yes, change will not be immediate, but in time we are guaranteed a return on investment to create a 'new' Jamaica.
The state depends on social stability and consensus. This sets the stage for thriving economic and social development when all stakeholders (government, corporate sector, civil society, church, individuals) work jointly to identify and pursue common goals. 'Wan finga cyaan kill louse' (One finger cannot be used to kill lice).
Let's start with what it means to be a proud Jamaican. A great culture starts with a stated vision and a mission. In a few sentences, these words guide a company's values and provide it with standards, a rallying cry and purpose. That purpose, in turn, ought to influence every decision made. When prominently displayed and treated as more then mere words in a frame and when portrayed consistently in leaders' actions, good mission statements can be a continuous guide. I think our beautifully crafted national pledge and anthem serve this purpose. Both articulate values and guidelines for our behaviour and conviction as Jamaicans. But the problem is, for many of us they were learnt by rote so they have no real meaning. We have not internalised them so we can't realise their promises. If we had the principles entrenched in our consciousness, they would manifested in our daily lives.
We need to start really teaching our people, especially our children, our mission statements (national pledge and anthem) in a way that they understand what they really mean, so as to emphasise how Jamaica benefits if we were to act on the words. This should be supported by saying and singing them often. Keep them ever before us to remind us what we have pledged to do as citizens and what we would like for our country. This will help to instill in our people a respect and reverence for them to truly become more than symbols but statements of a mission and vision.
A country's value system underpins its culture. While a vision articulates purpose, values serve to set guidelines for acceptable behaviours. There is no doubt in my mind that Jamaicans have a deep-seated love for their country, this is even very evident in Jamaicans in the diaspora. Our vision, I am sure, is for a better Jamaica, no matter where in the world we find ourselves. So what are the values that guide our behaviour? More importantly, what values are we teaching our children? When we do this assessment we begin to scratch the surface to lay a new foundation. Then we can decide what values we will continue to teach.
Let us all, in our individual spheres of influence resolve to invest in a Jamaica. Not judging, or cursing or berating, but working to uplift all. All it takes is teaching our children right values and attitudes about respect, consequences, obeying the rule of law, hard work, and a sense of self-pride, etc.
The Ministry of Education could also revisit the curriculum; how about including 'social graces' in the grade 7 curriculum? There could, perhaps, form an alliance with CPTC or JIS to package 3-minute videos that showcase different aspects of our heritage. These could be uploaded for presentation during assembly on special days. An appreciation of our historic environment is more than just a matter of material remains. It is central to how we see ourselves and to our identity as individuals, communities and as a nation. It is a physical record of how our country came to be what it is, all key elements to building pride and nationalism.
My hope is that we will all realise the simple things we can do or improve on to make a big difference. One step at a time we can rebuild our Jamaica.
Melody Cammock-Gayle is the director -- business development and marketing at Communications & Business Solutions (CBS) Limited. firstname.lastname@example.org