PROMINENT journalist and playwright Barbara Gloudon yesterday lamented the increasing levels of corruption in Jamaica and urged dishonest individuals to clean up their act for the sake of the country.
The lack of personal integrity was one of a number of concerns raised by the veteran journalist during an address to editors and reporters at the Observer's weekly Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue head office in Kingston. She pointed out that journalists, like everyone else, were vulnerable to the widespread corruption with which the country currently grapples.
"If you can live in a society where the future of 2.7 million people can be compromised because people do not have the integrity to do their business honestly and to have some regard for this country, it is a serious matter," Gloudon said.
She pointed that out that politicians were not the only ones who lacked personal integrity. Instead, she said, "It's a problem for all of us".
She added: "Where you have an instance where people do not feel that they are part of a society and that their integrity accounts for something, then we are in serious trouble," noted Gloudon, who is widely known for her social commentaries and contribution to theatre.
Describing herself as a proud Jamaican, she contemplated the negative image of the country as a result of the corrupt behaviour of some citizens. She urged perpetrators of criminal activities to consider the impact their behaviour was having on the future generation.
"If it (Jamaica) so compromises itself that it is seen by the rest of the world as a place without any worth or value, then we are criminals because we would have killed the hopes of young people after us," she asserted.
Gloudon, meanwhile, dismissed claims that poverty leads to criminal behaviour, citing stories of prominent figures such as Professor Rex Nettleford to underscore her point. Nettleford who died over a year ago, became a successful educator and cultural icon despite being raised in poverty.
"People have been born poorer than people who are here in Jamaica now. The fact that you are poor does not stand to the fact that you must be a criminal, it means that you must have personal integrity and there was a time when the people with the greatest integrity in Jamaica came from the poorest," she said.
"We have to make a little pact with ourselves that we can't just let Jamaica go so, we have to make it better, because when it is good, (there) ain't not better," said Gloudon.