Letter of the Day | Bring back the values and attitude campaign now
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Recently, the tempo on workable solutions to combat our ballooning crime rate has increased in several fora to include at least three from The Gleaner: Ms Claudia Williams, a customer service
manager; Mr Ian Boyne, In Focus writer; and Pastor Wesley Boynes, president of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association. All have the same theme running through their articles, namely, that "education needs values and principles if we are truly going to create a country where all of us want to remain for work, to raise our families, to do businesses, and let me add, to RETIRE, too".
This theme, though novel, is not new as Mr P.J. Patterson did launch a values and attitudes programme back in the 1990s, but, unfortunately, it did not get enough traction for it to go beyond our constant reminiscence that more should have been done from back then. For of a truth, the statistics show that we have advanced academically between any two periods of our history, but we have, sadly, regressed socially, and our brand of politicking is partly to be blamed.
The term 'optimally rounded' was a mantra used liberally on the Mico College campus up to the 1990s. It meant for us as students and faculty that we must advance academically but not leave behind our stately social skills, our gamesmanship, our spirituality, or any other value or attitude that would redound to our being able to fit easily into any facet of society.
Upon leaving college, though, and landing back in the real world, we sometimes realise that not many persons sing the song that we try to sing, and, in fact, some even put up active resistance to our efforts to change for the better. One would be surprised to learn that some of the staunchest resistance comes from colleagues within the very classrooms in which some of us practised.
But the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. Our murder rate is over 50/100,100 persons - and climbing, (Iceland awash with guns is 1.8, while the USA is 4.7). Our murderers don't spare men, women or babies. The virus has now spread to our youth, who are now patterning the adults.
No concerted effort
What is most troubling for me, though, is that there is not going to be any concerted effort to implement a values and attitudes programme because politicians and other public figures such as businessmen, pastors and teachers are involved. Instead, what will be implemented in greater measure are the American models of childrearing that have not worked. Children are allowed to speak to adults disrespectfully, and it is called empowerment. Even the police are having difficulties sending them home in the evenings. They are told by their guidance counsellors that they have rights, and I could go on.
We need to put partisan politics aside and implement a national VALUES AND ATTITUDES programme that is, first of all, Jamaican, one that administers discipline through properly run clubs, societies, sports and student governance; where the protocol of these institutions prepares them to create and enter a gentler society, where we all practise true respect for all; where we are stirred to respond with the highest humanitarian service whether we are volunteering or being paid; where we all participate in building the vision of caring for the vulnerable as we build ourselves up.
Then can we say that we're on the right path to creating and maintaining a country where all of us want to remain for work, to raise our families, and to do business, and to retire because our manners took us there.