George Davis | So what if you're young and bright?
In the post-smoking regulations segment of his tenure as health minister, the MP for St Thomas Eastern, Dr Fenton Ferguson, has said precious few things with which I agree. That's because the gentleman has often been cornered into saying something daft, to justify an even dafter action or bewildering act of inaction.
Many things he said and did in the refractory period of his stewardship in the health ministry were what you would expect from a bellend, rather than an educated man with decades of experience in politics and governance. But as I used the pen and my facility of radio to lash Dr Ferguson, I always had some respect for him, even as I wondered if it was because of his height why he kept seeing a duppy wherever light happened to cast his own shadow.
Dr Ferguson made some of the most poignant comments of his political life in an article published in The Gleaner on August 1. In that piece, he castigated those disrespectful youngsters in the PNP who used the footwear of young and bright to walk all over the carpet of respect and decency representing those Comrades several years their senior. Dr Ferguson spoke about how being young and bright gives no Comrade the right to a position of power. I sensed more than a feeling of hurt in Dr Ferguson's words at the way the young and bright brigade were seeking to lay their stamp on Manley's party. I shared his pain and I agree with him wholeheartedly.
The point about ageism that Dr Ferguson made in that article can be extended beyond the PNP.
This gross disrespect for so-called old persons, especially those in positions of authority, is evident in workplaces throughout the land. But it's especially acute in politics. We here in Jamaica love to sloganeer, especially at general election campaign time. And ever since we latched on to the concept of young, bright and fresh, those who in their heads believe themselves to meet these criteria often parade as if they believe their s**t should be purÈed and used for pasta sauce.
The political talking heads have long fixated on new and fresh ideas in politics, and this concept of the young and bright politician who's filled with book learning and attuned to the vibe on the streets. In their minds, this young and bright brigade represents a sleeker, upgraded version of the previous generation of politicians. So the men placed in the young and bright brigade walk with a hard-on all day, while the women strut with the high chests and the sashaying backsides, convinced that their youth and education justify their sense of entitlement.
As a man younger than many of those who claim to be young and bright, I find it disgusting the way they chuck this disrespect in the faces of those whose main crime is to be useful in a particular area for a long time. Yes, there are old farts in every organisation, hell-bent on retarding progress and committed to maintaining the status quo and shoring up their own relevance.
Yes, there are those who believe the old ways are the best and that change will only mean failure, or worse, destruction. But aren't those in the minority? Should we forget that those old now were themselves young at one time? For those bursting with youth and brightness now, what will they do when they become old? Will they fight the ascension of the generations behind them?
The PNP is very much alive as a political party and will continue to attract young, bright Jamaicans. It will also continue to draw on the strength of those who've been around for a while and helped the party to gain and retain relevance. There is more than enough space for the best of the old and the best of the young, both within the walls of the PNP and in the wider society.
It was the French philosopher, Rene Descartes who, in 1637, gave the world the gem, "I think, therefore I am." Some people appear to want to contribute their own philosophical statement, "I am young and bright, therefore I am." My question is, 'Am what?'
• George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.