A central role for churches in positive behaviour change
It’s often dismissed as inconsequential, but this newspaper believes symbolism can have an important role in human relations and society.
For that reason we welcome Wednesday’s gesture by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding in jointly holding aloft a ‘unity jar’ at the latest annual National Day of Prayer.
Our reporter tells us that representatives from three generations poured sand from small jars into a larger jar which was then presented to Messrs Holness and Golding.
“In their hands are the responsibility of the nation,” declared Rev Dr Elaine McCarthy, who heads the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, which, together with Power of Faith Ministries, organised Wednesday’s event.
“They (Messrs Holness and Golding) are entrusted to be good stewards of this nation, to lead and to direct under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Rev Dr McCarthy said, explaining that the jar of sand symbolises the unity and the oneness required in Jamaica.
The two national leaders departed from their roles as scripture readers on the event’s printed programme to pledge a joining of hands in fighting crime and violence.
“One of the beauties of this occasion is the fact that it is a non-political event, where the prime minister and myself can come together, sit beside each other, and feel the spirit of the Lord in this place, in this holy sanctuary,” declared Mr Golding in setting the tone.
“And this is what the people of Jamaica want to see; they want to see us coming together in unity so that we can collectively face all the challenges of the nation and overcome them for the benefit of this generation and generations to come,” the Opposition leader added.
Mr Holness declared himself happy that Mr Golding had emphasised unity “…because sometimes it can appear as if we are divided, and I firmly believe that, in all our hearts, we want the same thing — we all want peace in our country. We all want to be able to live in some form of comfort.”
National leaders needed to approach the reduction of violence “in a deliberate way, in a non-political way. It is something that we have to join together to treat with, because society is in conflict,” the prime minister said.
Such conflict, as is highlighted in the horrible ongoing story of a 14-year-old girl in Clarendon beaten to near-death by a group of women and girls because of what appears to have been little more than foolishness; and the killing of a taxi driver in Manchester flowing allegedly from a family dispute over ‘dead lef’ property.
The situation cries out for our national/political leaders to work as one in striving for positive behaviour change among the mass of our people for the greater good of all.
Obviously, our leaders must lead, but also all aware, well-thinking Jamaicans need to play their part at every level.
In that regard Mr Holness’s indicator that the Church must be centrally involved is very important.
Make no mistake, our churches hold immense sway.
They, too, must unite, regardless of denominational differences, to focus not just by way of prayer, but also organisationally at personal, community, and national levels if we are to achieve lasting behaviour change.