Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Ronald Thwaites | Values and attitudes

Published:Monday | September 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM

For the better part of our independence experience, this nation has not been able to settle on a core of common values and behaviour norms that children can be taught, can form the foundation of laws, and provide the backdrop for social intercourse.

Repressive economic conditions, confused religion, a warped political culture and, latterly, a post-modern hedonism that elevates 'feel-good' and 'look-good' experiences as being of the highest importance, have left many of us in states of tragic resignation or banal contentment.

So can we spend more time thinking about the type of people we want to be, how we can get closer to the almost-forgotten 2030 Vision, and setting out practical ways to live better together?

Start at the basic level. Can we agree that a Jamaican man and woman should commit to a lasting relationship before bringing a child into the world? That presumes self-respect and respect for others, especially the offspring of our bodies.

Then, can we accept as a national ideal that idleness is a corrosive condition and that doing something useful, no matter how menial, brings purpose, opportunity and happiness to life?

Following on, could we be explicit as to the importance of community, that we become who we are and can be not by ourselves, but in communion with others and thus find fulfilment in cherishing and serving our country.

And what if such cornerstones and others impelled us to respect authority, to act charitably and to speak truthfully of, and to, each other with gentle directness?

Too simple? Not if Gordon House, every school, the entertainers, the churches and the mass and social media were to sing the same Sankey, albeit with different melodies and rhythms.

Surely, it would be worth the effort to try again to consider the fundamentals of our common life rather than to continue behaving as if our neo-colonial institutions can ever bring reasonable opportunity and prosperity to all, and not just some, Jamaicans.

Last Tuesday in Parliament, we tortured ourselves by an ever-long discussion about the nature and efficacy of the one so-so zone of special operations with scant reference, and no application, to the embedded murderousness rampant abroad the land.

Is there enough trust and resolve to warrant convening a whole session and more at Vale Royal or Duke Street where the people's representatives acknowledge that since no one side has all the answers, collectively we consider the causes of crime and fast, pray, negotiate and strategise around a replete anti-crime plan?




Political discrimination, endemic among the satraps who owe their office not to their competence, but to their curry-favour with the party in power, is the ultimate evidence of their own pitiable insecurity.

Last week, the Ministry of Education revoked the invitation extended by staff to their former permanent secretary to speak and pray at staff devotions held outside of office hours. Why? Just incidentally, the distinguished educator has recently been appointed chair of the People's National Party's commission on re-imagining education - an effort that any but the most vulgar and defensive administration would want to embrace.

So the message to an already distrustful people, coming from the highest levels of power, is that differences of political affiliation prevent us from even praying together.

Under pressure, thankfully, the insult was reversed. What should concern us is the moral immaturity that could have occasioned it in the first instance and the cretinous persons who remain in authority over us, resplendent in their hubris and prone to do us ever more damage.

With a clearly articulated core of values and attitudes, such excrescences would be less likely.

- Ronald Thwaites is member of parliament for Kingston Central and opposition spokesman on education and training. Email feedback to