O’Hara, Champs and teaching values
Grains of Peace, as an organisation, has attempted to define 'values'. Human values are the virtues that guide us to take into account the human element when one interacts with other human beings. They set the stage for how we deal with human beings with whom we come in contact daily.
For example, the values may be civility, respect, consideration, honesty, loyalty, empathy and compassion, among others. The events in the country today have fostered a review of the values that are adopted in the society. The events at Boys and Girls' Championships at the stadium last weekend have brought it to the fore.
What values would cause a brilliant athlete to become party to an action that should be considered unethical? He then compounds it by trying to have the country believe it was all his idea. The school proclaims lack of knowledge, but one must question what the future holds for us as the incoming generation, who loudly trumpet his academic achievements and display of remarkable athletic prowess, would seek to deceive.
NOT ONLY NEGATIVE
This is not the only negative aspect of this incident, but a large cross section of the population does not grasp what is wrong with the actions.
Graves de Paix makes the further point. Respect is one of the most important human values for establishing relations of peace, and yet it remains elusive; its understanding varies according to age (child, teen, adult) to one's education and surrounding culture. It is better understood when combined with other values. A disposition that is deeper than civility, very close to consideration, and approaching appreciation.
Did the young star athlete have an appreciation that his action allowed for the encroachment on the investment of those who made the arena worthy of his feats? I guess not. He got paid. He was not a candidate for a track scholarship as a student athlete. He understood, accepted and fulfilled the bidding of his handlers to the exclusion of all others similarly situated.
The fact that a major corporation was an active participant in the escapade is being treated as an acceptable sanitising agent. These ethical and moral values are universal. They should inspire us to better put into practice the dictates of our conscience. The dulling of the conscience at the thought of personal gain is a most troubling sign for the future. In this case, it is just another manifestation of the 'a nuh nutten dat' sentiment that pervades Jamaica.
The young athlete is not alone. The political leadership in one of our two major parties did the same thing this week. Break the Constitution, it does not matter. You need me to lead. I lead in the polls. I am the young, gifted and capable. I can lead you to the political promised land. What significance is a breach of the Constitution? Only unlawful, but so what. 'A nuh nutten dat.'
It is by making one's own these human values that we can better feel, keep in mind, appreciate and value the importance of connection between human beings. It is then easier to respect the physical or psychological integrity of the other, and to stop oneself from getting carried away by feelings and reactions that could cause injury.
Where should we acquire these values and attitudes? The obvious places and settings come readily to mind. They are family, church, school and service organisations.
You sit at the feet of, or in the lap of, your grandmother as she speaks the gems she learnt at church and school. "Do unto others as they would do to you." "To thine own self be true and thus thou cannot lie to anyone." The list is almost endless. You were taught respect for others and for yourself. The inherent value of each is to be recognised. There, but for the grace of God, go you.
We boast of the Africanness of our heritage and culture, yet we have no respect for the elders, the desperate young, and the weak. Wanton depravity is displayed as we murder the young, old and those in-between. Life is no longer celebrated. We worship on the altar of ill-gotten gain. The family is splintered and the wisdom acquired by age is no longer imparted to the next generation.
I am grateful to Graves de Paix, Grains of Peace, an organisation of education and peace based in Geneva, Switzerland, for their publication on values and attitudes.