Resurrection, liberation and integrity


Thursday, April 25, 2019

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Easter Sunday or the feast of the resurrection was celebrated last Sunday in many of our churches. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates Easter for six weeks. Jesus Christ, the word of God made flesh, is, to Christians, total goodness in the flesh as God is totally good. If we believe that all good things come from God, then we should be looking to resurrect everything that is good.

And since liberation is good, we should all work for liberation to be resurrected. The very word 'liberation' is defined vaguely today. It is not just the freeing of the chains from the feet of prisoners and slaves. It is not just freedom from oppression or from low wages in the various workplaces. It also means freedom from mental slavery.

Liberation further means freedom from manipulation disguised as loans from financial institutions to access material things. This comes mainly from the ill-effects of high-pressure salesmanship and advertising now assisted by modern technology. Indeed, one can ask if we are being taken into a different form of slavery from the past, one of purchasing useless things that end up as necessities.

Can we have a resurrection of happiness? To me, the greatest health problem in Jamaica is not venereal diseases or any type of influenza but stress caused by the inability to service loans for expensive commodities manipulatively advertised in the media.

The way to combat stress caused by loan repayment challenges is for all workers to demand a law that allows each worker the option of a four-day work week so that workers can pursue their own private businesses at least one day per week, perhaps in cooperatives, if they so choose.

If the profits from the workers' side-businesses are used for loan repayments, their bosses need not know by salary deductions that workers have such loans and oppress them by forcing them to work unfairly hard. Indeed, this is the real reason for the stress caused by loan repayment challenges.

This danger of high-pressure salesmanship was pointed out nearly 44 years ago in November 1975 by the Roman Catholic bishops in the English-speaking Caribbean in a pastoral letter entitled 'Justice and Peace in a New Caribbean'. Interestingly, there was public but no social media in 1975 when the document was published.

Can we have a resurrection of integrity among our people? Politicians on both sides of the political fence have created corruption scandals. But we have never had so many back-to-back corruption scandals as we have had since 2016.

Jamaica has had a corruption problem since the days of Henry Morgan and the pirates. But there have been times in our history when there was something of a lessening of corruption by the example for instance, set by National Hero Norman Washington Manley. Which Jamaican politician today stands closest to that Norman Manley ideal?

Did we need the proposed National Identification System (NIDS) that the Supreme Court recently threw out? We have voters' IDs, driver's licenses, and passports. Why not simply instruct those without such IDs to be registered under 'miscellaneous' or some other classification?

Writing in the Jamaica Observer last Thursday under the headline “NIDS was always about the money” Richard Blackford was spot on. Both political parties have, during their tenures in Government, tended to see what money is available in international lending agencies, whether as loans or grants, and then adjust them to Jamaica's needs to suit loan conditionalities. This is not good in all instances. Why encroach on our deepest privacy as individuals in the name of solving crime?

Unfortunately, telling children to delay sexual intercourse at least until they are adults (if they do not believe in marriage as a sacrament) is overshadowed by encouragement to have sex using artificial birth control. Is this because of the profits being made on the sales of birth control items and medicines for venereal diseases? Is it because the sellers of such items contribute to party campaign funds?

Early exposure to sexual intercourse causes adults to have multiple sex partners who find it difficult to stay in a permanent relationship, which in turn affects the children born of these casual sex unions which many times leads to crime and violence.

In a day and age of the concept of 'virtual school' where learning takes place by viewing the Internet, schools should be the place where youngsters learn to socialise but, more importantly, learn proper values and attitudes. At the same time, the Internet, which is also accessible by cellphone, can be a serious distraction.

The importance of sports for healthy minds and bodies cannot be over-emphasised. But the sports industry captains, especially of football and athletics, will ensure that schools never close due to virtual school on the Internet to make their profits through sports competitions, not because sports is very good for youngsters.

The best part of the market for patties is the schools. It is also the best part of the market for soft drinks and perhaps rice and flour as raw products. So the food industry captains will also use their powerful influence to ensure that there is no widescale closure of schools due to virtual school via the Internet. So why not capitalise on this by mentoring the youngsters gathered in schools? I do voluntary mentoring at my alma mater. Why don't you at yours?

In the meantime, a majority of Jamaican children continue to be born in unstable families, a problem that has existed from the days of piracy and slavery. But we can together change the schools into alternate families of many mentors to liberate youngsters from manipulation by unwholesome advertising. And let us change the name of the Boxing Day public holiday to Family Day. It is usually a family day anyway.

— Michael Burke is a research consultant, historian and current affairs analyst. Send comments to the Observer or

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