There are no words for the terrible murders that are shaking our country. But there are words for those of us who have stepped up to be leaders, whether in politics, the public or private sector, the Church, media, or civil society — we have failed our country.
With our tiny egos, we have created silos of selfishness instead of joining together to be a powerful instrument of change. We can quarrel, criticise, and 'speechify', we can shout God's name from prayer breakfasts, but nothing can happen if we do not become active in this social emergency.
This hunger for power has shredded the true definition of politics, a means by which the people of a nation can be well served and assured of their human rights. Study well these rights at www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.”
In this tiny rock of three million, our leaders, from this and previous administrations, just cannot seem to give us these rights. We are locked behind bars in our homes while the criminals run free. One of Jamaica's most positive souls, Nadine Sutherland, posted on social media: “Today I feel like a prisoner in my own country. I'm tired, I'm really tired! I live always on the lookout for criminals. Every day, I wake hearing about criminal activities of the worst kind. We are the ones hiding, they seem to have free rein, rampaging!” She added, “The death of this kid!” A statement in reference to the horrific murder of nine-year-old Gabriel King.
The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) launched the Crime Monitoring and Oversight Committee two years ago, and have been reporting that several of the important crime-fighting steps that had been agreed by them, including government and Opposition stakeholders, have not been met. Again, PSOJ President Keith Duncan has called for a state of emergency, and we can expect the usual quibbling while we hold our collective breaths.
On Thursday, church leaders will meet at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel for the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast. We believe that if we did not have dedicated church leaders and members Jamaica would be in a worse position.
It was Peter Mais who marshalled a group of us some 30 years ago to form the Stella Maris Foundation in Grants Pen at a time when it was an area of unrest. By initiating the HEART training programme, partnering with psychology experts at The University of the West Indies for mediation and counselling, and with the assistance of the Digicel Foundation and USAID we were able to bring peace to the community.
This did not happen overnight. It required the focus and planning of resolute volunteers and a diligent staff. At each board meeting we reviewed our key performance indicators (KPIs). How many lives did we touch? How many enrolled in training? How many graduates?
We established the Norma Chang Day Care Centre so that mothers of infants could, and still can, attend classes while their children are cared for. We have seen moving success stories as a result of that foundation.
The Salvation Army, the Anglican Church's Mothers' Union, the Seventh-day Adventist's Good Samaritan Inn, Mustard Seed in the heart of Olympic Way, Sister Benedict's Laws Street Centre, as well as the leading schools founded and run by churches in partnership with the Government are all noble examples of the splendid work of churches.
Churches have the ear of women in crime-ridden communities who do not want to see their children and grandchildren murdered by fellow gang members or in a shoot-out with the police. How can we help them to persuade these young men to turn themselves in? We have international colleagues with the experience; let us learn from each other and help our young men to redeem themselves.
Now to our overworked and underpaid members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
It is good news that police stations are being refurbished and better equipment and motor vehicles are being provided. However, they must be paid a fair wage in keeping with the demands we make of them. If we continue like this we will lose some of our finest officers, who would readily find employment in the global security industry.
We beg our leaders to have a conscience. Cease the grandstanding in Parliament and at press conferences. This situation requires the urgent attention of both Government and Opposition – by their example we can come together and end this mindless violence.
MPs study Parliamentary Governance
Eleven Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Members of Parliament (MPs), along with politicians from other countries, completed the parliamentary governance programme at McGill University last week. Congratulations to them all, and kudos to Ann-Marie Vaz who scored straight A's. I hope People's National Party MPs will also take up this course; good governance is the only way forward.
Ian Forbes – St Andrew Custos Designate
Dr Patricia Dunwell's term of office as custos of St Andrew will end shortly.
She served with distinction, ensuring that justices of the peace (JPs) attended development sessions, and delivered inspiring addresses at myriad events. She balanced her duties as custos and her professional life with grace and dignity. We are grateful to her for her national service, supported by her husband Stanley Dunwell.
In a letter to us JPs in St Andrew, she announced that Ian Forbes, well-known business leader, who has been a driving force for years in the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and a trustee of Jamaica College, is our custos designate. We congratulate him and know we can enjoy the support, also, of his wife Lana Forbes.
How can we give up on Jamaica? We still have good people here, willing to serve.
TEDx Mona – Day of Pride
Last Saturday, five brilliant Jamaicans spoke at the TEDx Mona event on the theme 'Creating your own reality' – Antoinette Aiken, founder of TONITERP; Emprezz Golding, CEO of Talk Up Yout; Dr Dingle Spence, palliative care medical doctor; Dr Diana Thorburn, director of Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI); and Maurice Wilson, principal of GC Foster College. If you missed the live event, it will shortly be posted on YouTube. Make the time to enjoy and learn.
JAMAICAN TO SKI IN WINTER OLYMPICS
Benjamin Alexander, British-born with a Jamaican father, will be the first skier ever to represent Jamaica in the Winter Olympics next month in China. Inspired by the film Cool Runnings, Alexander, who started skiing in 2016, qualified last week for the Olympics by finishing seventh in the giant slalom at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships.
According to Sky News, two years ago the engineering graduate decided to make a plan to “get to Olympic standard piece by piece”. He said that, on his four-month visit to Jamaica in 2020, he learnt to appreciate our “cool factor”. He commented that, “The biggest cheer at the Olympics is always for the host country, but the second-biggest cheer is always for Jamaica.”
Well, look at that! Let us help Jamaica live up to its cool, one love reputation.