Fri | Dec 15, 2017

JaRistotle | Right is might

Published:Thursday | December 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM

As Jamaica and its people grapple with spiralling crime and socio-economic challenges, the management mantra 'doing the right thing the first time around' appears to have become lost on many who, by their mere position and authority, could be instrumental in reversing these seemingly overwhelming challenges. Yes, doing the right thing, and better still, doing so the first time round.

Let's face it, Jamaica is a fledgling country, still feeling its way forward without having experienced the sorts of national crises that have forced other countries to 'grow up'. Our survival has never been threatened by other countries. We have never lost thousands of our citizens in conflict, famine or disease. We have never had a catastrophic day as a country, not even with earthquakes and hurricanes.

 

The price of inaction

 

All our issues are home-grown: crime, murders, corruption, wanton waste and misuse of national resources. All from within this melting pot we call home. And yet, within this same melting pot, we have a plethora of talent, people with brilliant minds and extraordinary capabilities in positions of influence, who can lead us out of this quagmire, if only they would do the right thing.

Why aren't they not doing so? Surely it's not because they don't know what to do, or don't know what is right versus what is wrong! Regardless of the reasons, the fact is that too many potential game-changers are doing nothing. Remember, 'the Lord helps those who help themselves'. Right is might.

The late Emperor Haile Selassie once said, "Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph."

Just think, for instance, if we had initially built our roads using sustainable materials and methods, complete with drains and run-offs, to enduring standards. In addition, imagine if we had been regulating over-laden trucks on public roads, given their damaging effect of as much as seven times that of a regularly laden equivalent vehicle. Not only would we have had better roads, but the foundation would have been so good that deterioration would have been minimal, as to maintenance and replacement costs. Right is might, as more resources would have been available to be applied to other national enhancement projects.

 

The big picture

 

Despite knowing better, there has been repeated failure on the part of potential game-changers to ensure the right thing is being done in the first place. Even now, from small issues such as roads, to broader and more far-reaching issues such as energy and public transport, we see a consistent absence of the right thing being done. It boggles the bloody mind.

Consider these things. We have no oil reserves, all our fuel is imported. Our road infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired, as does our public transport system. However, over the last five years we have imported approximately 15,000 vehicles each year, adding undue pressure to our roads and our foreign exchange outflows. Add to the mix the consumer-centric practices of lending institutions with their penchant for quick turnover car loans as against growth-positive business financing. Priorities seem screwed up here.

Is there a national energy policy that complements a national transport policy? Is there a strategy to achieve reduced spending on vehicle and fuel imports by providing high-endurance roads and a public transport system that preclude the need for mass ownership of private vehicles? I know I am asking the right questions, and I know we have the right solutions to the issues. We are just not doing enough of the right things to break this vicious, albeit self-inflicted, cycle.

In other countries where I have lived, durable roads and excellent public transport reduce the demand for individual vehicles, while lending institutions readily facilitate more meaningful undertakings such as home ownership and entrepreneurship.

Regardless of one's current station in life, if anyone believes that the challenges of the day will never become their burdens, or that of their children at some point, think again. Our quality of life depends on all of us working together for the collective good.

Game-changers, get off your asses and do the right thing. Let your voices be heard. Right is might.

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