The oft misused Bible text, “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone,” much like “Bun bad mind,” has been used indiscriminately, not as a call to due process, respect, and community, but rather to silence and provide cover for corrupt acts, failure of duty, hyper partisanship, and often to belittle our institutions.
It is time to stop and reset.
This year marks 60 years since that important step towards claiming the power, uniqueness, and honour of the title Jamaicans. Our motto, anthem, and pledge are as relevant today as in those heady days of Independence and still provide the foundation principles and goals of our nation.
Before God and all mankind I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, the wisdom and courage of my mind, the strength and vigour of my body in the service of my fellow citizens, I promise to stand up for justice, brotherhood, and peace, to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly, so that Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship, and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.
I believe our focus, more so now than before, must be on these values as our nation grapples with numerous unprecedented challenges, such as:
•low voter turnout in our last three elections
•the tone of our discussions in the digital space on national matters
• reluctance by many of us to obey rules, protocols, and laws
•the novel coronavirus pandemic
•crime and corruption
Much has been achieved, and I applaud all who are doing their best for Jamaica. It is clear, though, that, ideally, we want to have a country that embraces inclusiveness, is fit to live in, and where the rule of law, respect, and good governance supports our people. As we seek happiness, it requires urgent attention and all hands on deck – a reset.
As your political ombudsman, mine is the charge to investigate breaches of the Code of Political Conduct — the actions by our political representatives that harm relations between supporters of different political parties. I have found that, through moral suasion, in many cases, potential crisis situations have been averted. The aptitude to do differently for better is inherent in all of us. We can do better.
All officials — elected, nominated, or appointed public servants; private organisations; and citizens in general stand to benefit from a reset and must respond to the call.
The reaction to the death of global icon Desmond Tutu, described by South Africans as the “conscience of a nation”, lays bare how important 'voices' of justice, right living, right relationships, and respect can be to a nation struggling to be its best self.
Desmond Tutu showed the world and his fellow South Africans that each had a duty to work for the good of all. That, in the face of challenges, we must respect and support each other and, in so doing, find the solutions to even the most extreme challenges.
He epitomised the connection of all humanity and the true meaning of Ubuntu — I am because you are — and he worked hard and effectively in pursuit of a reset.
An eternal optimist would say that Jamaica can be better from uptown to downtown, Negril to Morant Point, but we require leaders with the spirit of the late Desmond Tutu, such as our national heroes, whose legacy we have built on. Leaders who resolved to:
•be lawmakers who are not lawbreakers
•hold themselves and those they lead to account
•strengthen and support institutions of accountability
•work together for the rule of law and good governance
•love and respect every Jamaican
I have noted that these resolutions are well aligned to the actions of many of our leaders, and I implore them to keep at it. This call is for all of us to help those who fall short to be held to account, and be worthy of our hire.
We who are honoured to lead and walk humbly with God, guided by the Jamaicam motto, anthem, and pledge.
Donna Parchment Brown is the political ombudsman of Jamaica. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or