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Killing the twin Cs Crime and corruption must be brought down

BY Al Miller

Sunday, August 11, 2019

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When you see corruption, when you see injustice, you speak up. You don't just shut up and say it's none of my business. — Manal al-Sharif

Our island nation is at a critical juncture which requires urgent action if the success desired is to be realised. While we are seeing a glimmer of light on the economic side, the ongoing social and moral dilemma is at a point of crisis. Our generation must act now!

Each generation is responsible for its own success and to prepare the next for theirs. Each generation must become nation-builders who will overcome the problems. Martin Luther King Jr, in response to the critical racial crisis of his time, sternly warned America that, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” His appeal was powerful enough to help change mindsets and influence government policies sufficiently to ensure that the US has not yet perished.

Raulston Nembhard, writing in the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, appealed to Prime Minister Andrew Holness as the “man on the bridge” to “address more robustly the issue of corruption”. He sternly continued, “The nexus between crime and corruption must be recognised. These are first cousins which refuse to be decoupled!”

He rightly brought the Opposition into the picture by declaring: “There must be an end to the rhetoric and finger-pointing among our politicians; for none of them is without sin.” Macro-economic stability, he further declared, “will not be sufficient to guarantee the JLP [Jamaica Labour Party] a second term” if they do not curtail the evil twin of crime and violence. Will his appeal and warning be enough to change mindsets and influence the action that is needed now?

In the event that Raulston's appeal and warning are not enough, permit me to add my piece? I will use as 'my piece' the content of my presentation at the Jamaica Summit of Excellence in Leadership & Business on Thursday, July 18, 2019. The presentation was titled 'Raising a generation of nation-builders'.

Crime and corruption will be destroyed when we have a generation of citizens who will no longer accept it as normative behaviour. We must kill the twin Cs of crime and corruption or perish together with the criminal and the corrupt. (Apologies to Martin Luther King Jr for the mimic.) If we are unable to meet the urgency of now, we must then prepare a generation to kill the twin before the twin destroys our island nation.

Yes, I hear the questions: Can we really kill the twin Cs of crime and corruption? Why haven't we been able to rid ourselves of crime and corruption?

Alex Prignon, was one of the speakers at the Jamaica Summit of Excellence in Leadership & Business hosted by Alex Ihama, CEO of the International School of Greatness. Prignon is a product executive at The Vault — a Silicon Valley Company (California, USA) that adds value to the design of innovative solutions and systems for corporations such as Google, Renault and General Electric. Alex shared seven innovation elements that are used by companies in Silicon Valley for the facilitation of success in innovation. Five of those innovations apply to 'my piece'. These elements are new, idealism, exploration, action and ideas. Perhaps it's time to explore new ideas with regards to curbing crime and corruption. Maybe it's time for new, idealistic action. So here are some new, idealistic, action-driven ideas.

1,2,3 and A,B,C

I have crafted the ideas to be as simple to understand as ABC: Acknowledge, Believe and Commission. As we build and prepare a generation of nation-builders, there are some issues to acknowledge, some principles to believe, and a generation to deliberately commission to a task where we are currently failing.

Acknowledge!

Firstly, it's time to acknowledge the truth that the problems of the creators of our nation need help and strategies to solve them. That's the gospel truth! It matters not if the problem-makers are dead or still alive, or if they desire help or are disinterested in receiving help, we must help! For, if they could have solved our nation's problems by themselves they would have done so already. The fact that they haven't we must conclude that they cannot or do not want to do so.

Secondly, we must acknowledge the fact that we need all hands on deck — adults, youth, and children; Government and Opposition; Church; and businesses. We must creatively prepare them for engagement. Let me borrow and amend Raulston Nembhard's quote, “There must be an end to the rhetoric and finger-pointing among our politicians [and among us all]; for none of them [and none of us] is without sin.”

Martin Luther King Jr, during his attempt to destroy the evil that challenged the survival of the USA, reminded its citizens that: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

May I similarly remind you that we all are guilty of allowing the twin called crime and corruption to grow into this ogre that now threatens to destroy us. In other words, it's time for us to realise that the evil twin, crime and corruption, is now a whole nation, every business, every community, every church, everybody's problem!

The twin, crime and corruption, is now like an infectious disease that threatens the whole national family. We must treat it as such and through a planned, radical operation seek to find the source and treat the places and people known and suspected to have been contaminated.

Thirdly, we must acknowledge the truth that the efforts to help must be coordinated like a symphony orchestra. Let's, like a fine orchestra of vastly different instruments, create unity in our diversity and excellence in performance.

Imagine if every Jamaican, of every political stripe, church-type, or business streak, got so tired of crime and corruption that a mighty unified shout of “enough is enough” was heard through the island, followed by actions that had every criminal element, corrupt official, and political party retreating in fear.

Then, lastly, we must acknowledge the truth that crime and corruption are not merely the action of individuals, but are systemic in scope and culture. This is especially so in deprived and garrison communities and in our political parties. It is highly hypocritical for any politician, on any side, to attack individuals caught in corruption as a solution to the problem. To do so is but a smokescreen to cover their own culpability.

Our political and business leaders have since Independence overseen the building of governance systems and structures which encourage, permit, and support crime and corruption. This twin called crime and corruption was birthed and nurtured by our political and business culture and has now grown large enough to threaten those that grew it and parented it.

None in the system can credibly speak to it at present because of their tacit or explicit participation. Tacit because they have known about it and have said or done nothing. Explicit because they have physically participated. Hence, all are guilty!

We are making crime and corruption an individual thing when it is systemic by its practice. Individuals have a responsibility and must be held accountable, but even good people have been invariably carried along by the tide of the party system that expects and encourages corrupt actions. The anti-corruption rhetoric by perhaps as much as 95 per cent of individuals from either political side is really 'pot calling the kettle black'.

In his inaugural address to our nation in 2016, Prime Minister Andrew Holness retorted that he would deal with the issue of corruption. Why did he say it? He could only have said it because it was a part of the system as he knew it. He has found it more difficult to deal with in reality than he would have imagined. Why has he found it hard to deal with? Because it is a systemic issue.

The moment you get rid of one individual another pops up. So any speech from Peter Bunting, Peter Phillips, or the prime minister on the subject must share strategies to deal with the system, not merely an individual who the same system trained but who did not cover his or her tracks well enough. He or she becomes a scapegoat.

Crime and corruption are like full-blown cancer that has affected all organs. Removing one organ does not solve the problem. One would need to treat the entire body. Those in the political arena should refrain from commenting on the issue of corruption until there is genuine willingness to uproot the political system that has created and maintained the corruption.

To my recollection, the only current politician of either political stripe who has consistently spoken against corruption and related injustices has been Ronald Thwaites. Yet he has been unable to make a dent on it, either in or out of government (within his party) owing to the systemic nature.

Believe!

The first thing we must believe is that the purpose of all citizens is 'nation as first responsibility'!

Yes, we all, as citizens of Jamaica, are responsible for creating Jamaica as the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business. This is not just the job of those in government. We all have a critical and definitive role to play in our nation's development.

With that in mind, we must then deliberately raise a generation of nation-builders with a purpose, focus and 'take charge' attitude. They must be deliberately taught at home, church and school that they are to be fruitful, multiply, replenish, and take charge of the Earth. In other words, our children (like us) must become producers, nation-builders and valued contributors to the economic viability of the country. We must all take charge of our own sphere(s) of influence to subdue the evil and elevate the good.

Secondly, we must believe that it is necessary to raise a generation of nation-builders to answer the questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What am I to do? Raise them with a clear, inspiring national vision; the kind of vision that stimulates patriotism and desire to put Jamaica first. Raise them on values which drive personal and national prosperity. Raise them with a healthy concept of self, and knowledge of the ideal profile of a bona fide Jamaican citizen who displays the Jamaican gene. Raise them with a faith to sustain them, a legacy to build on, and a vision that is bigger than them.

Thirdly, we must believe that equipping and deploying a generation of nation-builders is critical for achieving national objectives. It means then that we must educate them, mentor them, make them technologically savvy, and instil in them an entrepreneurial spirit that seeks to create, innovate, and build for the greatest benefit of all.

Fourthly, we must believe that it's absolutely necessary to devise and sustain a programme for mindset and behaviour change. This idea is not new, because former Prime Minister P J Patterson launched it as his Values and Attitudes programme, and former Prime Minister Bruce Golding enhanced it by facilitating the creation of the National Transformation Programme. We must be prepared as a society to make this a priority, and therefore must allocate resources in order to make it happen.

The absence of a programme for moral and social transformation is the primary reason for the deterioration of the nation. Dr Peter Morgan, in his contribution to the Jamaica Summit of Excellence in Leadership & Business, referred to above. He said, “Without giving attention to the social fabric of the nation, it will fail...the social community is the soul of the nation, and we must go after the soul of the nation if we want to save Jamaica.”

Commissioning a generation

We must commission the nation-builders we have raised to go serve their world. They must no longer be focusing on what they can get but what they can give. They must not be walking around with their palms up, but with palms down.

Again this will require a whole mindset shift. One where our people are taught to appreciate and are stirred to productivity. We must send them, for the sake of the nation's survival, to restore order and discipline, and develop correct systems and structures for highest, national good. They must, with confidence, use their creative abilities and strengths to propel the nation, their families, and businesses into their divine destiny and global influence.

Raising nation-builders cannot be left to chance or hope. It requires deliberate and intentional action from visionary, inspirational leadership driven by a deep sense of purpose. If we continue to fail in our attempts to overcome crime and corruption, which are the expressions of injustice, fatherlessness, et cetera, the national vision will never be realised.

Rev Al Miller is pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle. Send comments to the Observer or pastormilleroffice@gmail.com.

PS: Allow me to big up Laurel Bishop Reid of Phase 3 Productions and Richard Bell, elevator technician at the Jamaica Pegasus. Bishop for his good audiovisual support at the Jamaica Summit of Excellence in Leadership & Business and Bell for his honesty. He found an expensive smartphone in the bathroom and returned it instead of walking away with it.


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