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We need to work together in spite of our differences

Published:Monday | June 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM


I have returned to Jamaica after a reflective fortnight away. While I was away at conferences and visiting family in Montreal, New York and Washington, the only information I saw was a small paragraph about Jamaica's decision to decriminalise ganja for medical purposes. The New York paper suggested that it had seemed that Jamaica had done this long ago. There was nothing else in the print media about this little rock, which is also a hard place.

Upon my return, I continue to be amazed at the bitterness, polarisation and near hysteria that is raging about a number of issues, including homosexuality. We live in a country that is extremely transgressive and tolerant of violence and many other issues.

I have read some of the articles about the case at the University of the West Indies, as well as other related matters. I was particularly enlightened by Professor Antoine's article. We live in a country where we must come to terms with our sexuality and find ways of preparing the next generation which is growing up in a hypersexualised world.

The countries which we hold up as advanced, to which many of our citizens are migrating, have long gone past these issues. Incidentally, many of these countries continue to work through them.

Jamaica is a country in which we have fought - and continue to fight - for the rights of people and know that we cannot discriminate on the basis of people's race and ethnicity. We cannot support policies that discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.


In the meantime, I have heard little discussion about the continued devaluation and the economic situation which sends young Jamaicans on the streets to sell their bodies to make a living.

I need to hear more about the micro policies that encourage individuals, families, firms to be engaged in productive activity. The levels of poverty and want in the country need lobbies to develop the solutions required. We need to see more Jamaicans doing great things like holding the Calabash literary festival and being engaged in discussions and discourses for problem-solving. There is too much tracing, vitriol and strategies for self-destruction. If we think that the solutions will come from outside, we are fooling ourselves.

We need to get to the table to negotiate, to treat each other with respect, to work together in spite of our differences. If we could only get our collective acts together we could accomplish a lot.

Hilary Robertson-Hickling

UWI, Mona