WE CAN DO IT!
Topic of speech delivered at Jamaica Citizens Bank 25th Anniversary Awards: September 1992
I had just been elected president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) earlier in the year. I was struck by the prevalence of self-doubt and negativity at a time when our country was heading into uncharted waters in a rapidly globalising world. I felt it my duty to raise the tenor of the national conversation to one of positives.
I sometimes wish that when some of us indulge ourselves in periodic orgies of self-doubt and self-recrimination, proclaiming the inability of Jamaicans to achieve anything worthwhile, that some voices, somewhere in this land, would be raised to point to the positive things that we have achieved.
We have to take responsibility – individually and collectively – for our personal lives, for our corporate lives and for our national lives. I believe that, as Jamaicans, we are at our best when we face critical challenges and opportunities, and we are living in those times.
Each of us must ensure, by our own actions, by our approach to the way we do things, that a sense of pragmatism, developing maturity and responsibility become the norms in our country.
As Jimmy Cliff’s popular song says – and I endorse – ‘We can do it if we really want!’
Twenty-three years after making this speech, I am today more optimistic about the future of our country than I have been in many years. Why? I sense a maturing in the way we interact as a people. Two positives – a greater sense of individual self-confidence, and a general decline in political tribalism. In my view, these are setting a stronger foundation for individual and collective problem solving in our society.
The big question is this: Jamaicans born in 1992 are now 23 years old. Are they as optimistic as I now am? How can we encourage them to see the glass as half full rather than half empty? Let’s ask them.
There’s a clue in Jimmy Cliff’s song, and I’ll paraphrase him again: “... but you must try, try and try, you’ll succeed at last.”
These are excerpts of Douglas Orane's book – The Business of Nation Building: Excerpts From the Selected Speeches of Douglas Orane – now available islandwide.