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Lessons from silence

Published:Sunday | November 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM


"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." - Martin Luther King Jr

It was back in 2012, sometime after assuming office again as Jamaica's prime minister, that the Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller stated quite boldly: "When I am not talking, talking, talking, I am working! working! working!... I am not going to talk myself out of office".

There is some degree of common sense in those sentiments as the quiet leader succeeds by acting rather than talking. However, in circumstances which require strong verbal communication, silence can also be seen as insulting. Jamaicans hate being ignored. Just walk into any store or bank and listen to the responses of our people if they feel that they are being ignored. It is never pretty. We need to hear the cause of our having to wait, and we need to hear it sooner rather than later.

So, the converse is also true, Madam Prime Minister. Silence can also drive you out of office, just as swiftly as talking too much can.

The fact is, there is much discontent in Jamaica, and neither party has been able to distinguish themselves from the other as being able to balance both the needs of the country (macro) and needs of our people (micro).

So we find ourselves in an unhealthy situation. The people are not particularly impressed with Andrew Holness' leadership. It is he who claimed earlier this year that there were those in the Opposition who see him leading in the polls and hence wanted to do away with him, when an assassination plot had surfaced. This he did with not one iota of evidence to suggest that any opposition member was involved. This is not the sign of a wise leader. He is also the only leader in the country to have breached the Constitution of the country that he hopes to lead, solely on the basis of trying to grab absolute power for himself.




More recently, he bellowed from the stages of one of his campaign stops that Jamaicans should 'nyam them out' and vote them out, encouraging illegality among the very nation that he wants to lead back from the brink of wanton crime and illegal behaviour.

So Mr Holness has failed to show why we should consider him a leader. But Mrs Simpson Miller continues to trample on the hopes and desires of Jamaicans by ignoring their voices as they clamour for responses from their leader. She continues to ignore us by claiming that it is only the media who needs to hear from our prime minister.

The office of prime minister does not belong to whoever the officeholder may be at any given time. It belongs to the people of this country. It is time to respect that position, and to respect the voices of the people who own that position. In this case, Mrs Simpson Miller, silence is not black, green or golden.

Mark Handy