LETTER OF THE DAY - A land where pleasure abounds
THE EDITOR, Sir:
We have become a nation which knows how to play but seems unable to find the will to work. In fact, the emphasis on pleasure seems to be a top-down phenomenon; Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, whom we affectionately call Sista P, called the Axeman early on the morning of his fight to have a nice long talk and to request a 50th anniversary gift - the WBA crown in a Jamaican fight.
The world has gone crazy over pleasure. Film stars and athletes earn the highest wages. Those excelling earn not just millions but hundreds of millions. Yet doctors who bring life into the world continue to work to keep the population alive earn a mere fraction of this sum. Scientists whose research and inventions make the world worth living in earn a fraction of these sums.
A teacher who educates the scientists whose invention we could not live without is largely unrecognised. The farmer who feeds the world is, for the most part, a creature of contempt, and nowhere more so than in Jamaica.
Sports and sportsmen are glorified, but the honest workers who are the backbone of the country are treated with contempt. The Government gives monetary rewards to athletes - who already earn much more than the ordinary Jamaican - but retirees can't get their pensions, and persons wanting to get money to start viable businesses can't access loans or grants, or don't get encouragement.
Schools are without basic necessities such as laboratories, bathrooms and books. We are sending the wrong message about the value of work.
Do big companies such as GraceKennedy and LASCO sponsor farms and farmers so we can research and develop better food crops or higher yields or improved processing of farm produce? Does Courts have a competition for local cabinetmakers, giving meaningful prizes for the best designed and produced furniture and accessories such as soft furnishing, to encourage local industry?
Our biggest competition is Schools' Challenge Quiz and Spelling Bee, both of which yield nothing tangible to nation building. Those competitions are, in fact, more for entertainment value, to draw viewers - and these are outclassed by the biggest of all school entertainment - Boys and Girls' Champs - when we can guarantee that the National Stadium will be packed to capacity, the way it never would be for a science or technology competition.
Is this ever going to change? Are we the fulfilment of 1 Tim 3:1-5. In the last days, we will have critical time for persons will be unreasonable, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God? And yes, you can love both pleasure and God, as long as pleasure is put in its place. But as long as our emphasis is on pleasure, we are going to continue to live in critical times, perpetuating a cycle of crime and poverty.
It is time for a change of priority to more serious things - the things that result in character- and nation-building. Let us take the focus off rewarding those who have and focus, rather, on those who build the nation, those who make the real contributions that improve life.