Editorial

Do more than talk, Mr Green

Monday, July 28, 2014    

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Highly educated and, we suspect, very well read, Mr Floyd Green will know that the political ideals and principles advocated by him in yesterday's Sunday Observer are by no means original.

He is only 32 years old, but much of his adult life has been spent very close to the hierarchy of Jamaican party politics. So we know he has witnessed at first hand and close quarters, similarly lofty expressions of intent, only for the passionate advocates to fall woefully short when it became time for them to practise their preaching.

This business of our political leaders saying one thing and doing the opposite has been a scourge hindering Jamaica's development since the dawning of our two parties in the 1930s and 40s.

The plague of political party tribalism provides a classic example. That, by the way, did not start in the "seventies and eighties" as sly information manipulators sometimes try to make Jamaicans believe. It's just that the plague worsened and became embedded in the national culture as time elapsed.

Historians tell us -- and checks with newspaper archives will confirm -- that as far back as the 1940s supporters of the two parties were fighting "pitched battles" in the streets of Kingston. The hands of the political leaders of the day, seen and unseen, were never far away in those conflicts.

Historical sources will also show the same political leaders advocating from the platforms of the day the need for unity in nation building.

It is this ongoing and hypocritical dichotomy between word and deed which has, over time, cemented among younger Jamaicans the worrying apathy, cynicism and hostility towards political practice.

It is not enough for Mr Green and others of a younger generation of politicians to blame the people for allowing their representatives "to get away with a lot".

Mr Green and others must set a higher example by word and deed. He could set the tone in the upcoming election campaign by departing from the tribalistic nonsense Jamaicans have become accustomed to hearing from political platforms.

Rather than trying to make a case that the other party is comprised of devils, our younger generation of politicians should be seeking to play the role of guides and teachers for their constituents.

What about reminding fathers of their responsibility to take the best possible care of their children; telling young people that it is ludicrous and self-defeating to have children without the economic means to support them; telling constituents that it is their duty to co-operate with the police in fighting crime; working with constituents within their communities to organise and help themselves through economic and social enterprise; making the point that at all levels ginnalship and anancyism will only undermine positive enterprise; explaining to constituents that as individuals, as communities and as a nation, Jamaicans must develop the habit of living within their means; that it is the infernal, chronic dependency on others for financial and material support that has led the country to its current debt trap.

Mr Green and others of the brigade of younger politicians must depart the norm. Not just with smart-sounding statements in the media, but by their practice on the ground.

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