Evil abounds while good men and women remain silent
Address to the Association of Chartered Secretaries: May 2000
As an independent senator, I was struck by the great value of Jamaica's democratic system, and horrified by how little the average person appreciated this incredible advantage we have, as a result, over many other countries.
We are very fortunate in Jamaica that we have inherited, and live within, a democratic framework contained in our Constitution.
I am afraid, however, that many of us take this good fortune for granted. But democratic rights are like muscles - unused, they atrophy and wither away.
History is replete with examples of the loss of democratic rights by those who remained dormant in the face of repeated assaults on these rights. 'Evil abounds while good men and women remain silent.'
A passive decision not to vote is an active prescription to allow others to decide for us. It bothers me that the percentage of the population voting is steadily declining. It may be a worldwide phenomenon, but this is our country, so let's start finding our own remedies.
Some potential solutions - introspection, leading to action, by both major political parties regarding their relationship and role in serving the wider society; reviewing the quality of the candidates who offer themselves for political office; monitoring the implementation of the decision to reintroduce the teaching of civics in our schools; nurturing a tradition within our families of engagement with our democratic processes.
Social media provides a welcome new platform from which we can perform in our role as watchdogs for our democratic rights, and give constant feedback to those who govern us, on their performance. Expect the emergence of more single-issue movements, as it has become so much easier to communicate electronically with like-minded people. It's now up to us as individual citizens to make the move away from a culture of passive acceptance reflected in the phrase " a so it go", towards a new paradigm of engagement because "a fi wi country!"