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Service clubs can break down inequalities in society - Crawford

Published:Sunday | August 17, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Damion Crawford, state minister for tourism and entertainment, addresses a joint meeting of the Rotary Clubs of Kingston East and Port Royal and Trafalgar New Heights at the Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa in Kingston recently.-Contributed

State Minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment Damion Crawford has challenged service clubs to play a greater role in breaking down inequalities in the society by empowering people through their services and helping to lobby for change through organisation.

Speaking to Rotarians and guests during a joint meeting of the Rotary clubs of Kingston East and Port Royal and Trafalgar New Heights at Eden Gardens in St Andrew last week, Crawford bemoaned that the society had lost its moral compass, and that this moral decay was to be blamed for the levels of inequality and inequity in the country.

"The concept of equity and equality is moving further away in my mind, because we have become more ungodly as a country," he lamented, noting that the lack of "godliness" had resulted in a general lack of conscience in the society.

"It's that lack of conscience, [which] means that we no longer feel that the essence of Christianity, which is one God and he is good and he is the Father, means that God couldn't want some people to have everything and some people to have nothing," he argued, pointing out that it was this general lack of conscience which has influenced classism in the society, barring the masses from accessing equal opportunities in education and business.

Institutionalised classism

Citing laws such as the Noise Abatement Act; the high cost for tertiary education and barriers to entry in business, he argued that classism had become institutionalised in Jamaica to the detriment of the masses and ultimately the future of the country.

"That lack of conscience, to say the society needs to change, is why there is no organised activity to achieve change," he said.

But highlighting an aspect of the Rotary philosophy, he said service clubs such as Rotary can help to achieve change. Using the Rotary Four-way Test, which emphasises equity and fairness, as the motif of his presentation, he said service clubs can help to develop and uphold stronger values in the society to influence change.

He said clubs can play a role through the services they provide, but beyond that he emphasised it can empower people by underscoring the value of organisation.

"If you're not organised then you're not powerful. So institutions such as Rotary, etc, are organisations which help to organise people; which then gives synergies, which then is the ultimate source of people power," he said.

He said without organisation the society becomes vulnerable to a small group of people with influence.

Facilitated by democracy

According to Crawford, the country's future is dependent on its masses being empowered, which he maintains can be achieved through greater attention and investment in their education, health and earning potential.

"It is facilitated in three areas, but it's facilitated by democracy," he stressed. However, he argued that Jamaica was not functioning democratically, as most decisions by the State are influenced by agencies rather than the majority for the greater good.

"It is the elected that is dependent on numbers for his own self-interest, and that self-interest is to win elections. So, therefore, the person who is running in an election, he is dependent on getting more votes than the other person to win. So he is dependent on numbers, and it is numbers that is the only advantage of the masses ... and that's why organisation is important," he said.

Crawford noted that institutions such as Rotary can help to influence change.

"It must be for all concerned. It must be beneficial and bright and true and fair - everything good for all concerned," he said, coining a portion of the Rotary Four-way Test.

"So Rotary must not only help with the money and time that you spend, but help to lobby for true policy change for the persons who are underprivileged to become more privileged," he said.