Sat | Dec 16, 2017

J'Aristotle's Jottings | Hats off to heroes among us

Published:Thursday | August 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM

It's 3 a.m., well before cock crow. The alarm goes off - time to get up and go to training. Jamaica's athletes are on the move, tracking and fielding, preparing for the moment when they will make us proud. We have become so used to them winning, so ready to heap accolades on them in the aftermath of high-yield mining expeditions the world over: gold, silver and bronze aplenty. So in this down moment, they need to know we still adore them. All of them.

We often forget what our athletes have had to go through to reach and maintain winning form. We often forget that they are human beings, not machines. We often forget that they have families. We often forget that staying at the front of the pack comes at significant personal sacrifice for them, exacting heavy tolls on their bodies and family life.

So, when they don't run as fast, throw as far or jump as much as their competitors, we must never trivialise the moment. In fact, it is more important than ever to give them our unreserved support. They gave their best, and we must never forget that. Even when the great Usain and Elaine did not achieve their customary wins, the rest of the team rallied and continued to put out their best. Way to go, Team Jamaica! I am extremely proud of all of you.

There are valuable lessons to be learnt as well. In the aftermath of defeat, they did not cast blame elsewhere. They were so gracious in defeat, true ambassadors for Jamaica. There are many of us, including myself, who need to pay attention to this. Look inward, be honest with one's self, learn from mistakes, refocus and bounce back. You temporary residents of Gordon House, take note.

National Heroes Day is just around the corner. Although the listing of honours and awards has already been published, I think it would be most appropriate for us to collectively recognise Team Jamaica during the ceremony at King's House. No politics, just pure Jamaican love.

 

OUR TEACHERS

 

Every one of us who has had the benefit of an education is the product of care, nurturing and dedication, sometimes frustration, definitely perseverance. After all, some a wi head tuff, and tek whole heap a talking fi get di lessons right. Those who guided us through school, laying the foundation for us to eventually get big jobs and big money, did so on meagre salaries and school budgets. Many found it necessary to put their own money into their classrooms, producing charts and memory aids to better assist their wards.

Teaching remains an underpaid, largely unappreciated and over-whelmingly demanding profession. In fact, it has become an unsafe profession of sorts, with abusive parents, violent students and disrespectful ministers being commonplace.

The conditions under which many of our teachers currently work are deplorable. Schools with pit toilets, devoid of running water, and poorly maintained buildings are just a few of the issues they have to contend with. And yet they persevere.

Teacher training can be expensive, and the salaries are not the best. Eight million dollars worth of phone calls could have paid quite a few teachers or fixed many a classroom. Despite these challenges, our teachers persevere, trying to do the best they can under trying circumstances. Could things be better; could results be better? Most definitely, but remember, education is a partnership: students, teachers, parents and bureaucrats. No blame game here.

 

NATIONAL RECOGNITION

 

Every year, we publicly heap honours and awards on numerous Jamaicans in recognition of their services to the nation. While I am not questioning their decisions, I wish to appeal to the relevant entities to consider personal sacrifices. Many Jamaicans of little means have put country before self at great personal sacrifice, such personal sacrifice being far greater than that of the prominent whose contributions are more visible. Please, bear this in mind.

Persevere, my heroes, it will get better.