Sun | Jul 22, 2018

J’Aristotle’s Jottings | A new hero for Jamaica?

Published:Thursday | April 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The history of Jamaica is filled with protests and rebellion: incidents of standing against oppression and injustice, slavery and colonialism. National Heroes such as Bogle, Gordon and Sharpe readily come to mind, not to mention Nanny and Garvey.

The actions of Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley saw us through to Independence. However, ever since their legacy institutions, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP), replaced the colonialists as our 'governors', we have not had any heroes to stand up for us, the Jamaican people.

Too often, the cry of the poor and disenfranchised go unheeded, unless there is political mileage to be gained from remedying their plight. Talk about 'swapping dog fi monkey'.

Why is it that in the 21st Century, after 55 years of Independence, so many of our citizens are being slaughtered, our children being increasingly abused, and so many are without basic commodities such as running water and electricity in their communities? The answer is simple; benefits are married to votes.

I therefore put it to you, my people, it is time for a new hero. Question is, where can we find such a person?


The political 'elite'


Two people in the political hierarchy are placed where they can influence and drive significant change in our political environment and put country over party: these being Prime Minister Holness and Opposition Leader Phillips. Both have an opportunity to 'un-quag the mire', weed out the dinosaurs, the self-serving, and the non-performers.

Prime Minister Holness has a major impediment; with a one-seat majority in Parliament, he has to hold on to all his MPs, whether good, bad or ugly. Is he man enough to shuffle them around or out and be prepared to go back to the polls if they are not willing to put country over self?

On the other hand, is Dr Phillips willing to take a similar approach within his party, or would he instead focus on trying to take advantage of the situation if the prime minister were ever to risk putting country over retaining power with his razor-thin majority?

Wouldn't such actions would be truly heroic?


The private sector


Jamaica has a vibrant private sector laced with influential captains of industry. Is this the sector that will give rise to our next hero? Business is about profit. Many private-sector leaders hedge their bets by supporting both parties financially, and thereafter benefitting through board appointments, special concessions and, exclusive licences. These people were either sleeping during business ethics classes or are simply hypocritical. Oh well, moving right along.


The Public Service


Will our new commissioner of customs or newly-appointed Commissioner of Police have the courage to eradicate corruption within their organisations, put the right people in the right jobs and bring all law-breakers and tax evaders before the courts, regardless of their station in life? If so, could they be our next heroes? As to the rest of the public service, I don't hold out much hope. Many key decision-makers, such as permanent secretaries, are on contract. They are not so permanent anymore. With people trying to hold on to their jobs, the political will prevails over the civil-mindedness of the service. Next!


The people


People, don't expect any knight in shining armour to come to our rescue. Those who are 'more equal' than the rest of us want to protect their privileged positions. We must be the masters of our own destiny, the next national heroes.

We need a peaceful, but forceful revolution. A revolution that will deliver us from the pork-barrel-type governance that has engulfed us; one that emancipates us from mental slavery. We have the power of the vote on the one hand. We the people must use it wisely. It is worth far more than saltfish, for if used responsibly, we will shape Jamaica's future and become the real heroes of generations to come.

The law provides many tools. Injunctions and class action suits are there for application against subjective political decisions, blatant mismanagement of public resources, and disregard of basic rights. Through collective action, we can force those more equal than us to start addressing our needs. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall. True emancipation is a product of unity.

Human-rights lobbyists, here is your chance to be heroes. Educate the people about these tools.

More time.