This is probably an odd time to be writing such an article, in the midst of all the mayhem associated with the political silly season in Jamaica.
Yet, on the other hand, it may well be the most appropriate time to remind ourselves of some important facts.
Last evening I ‘commented’ on a post on the Jamaica House Facebook page which provided information on the final rites of the Hon. David Coore. Essentially, the Office of the Prime Minister was advising that – no less than – three former prime ministers would be in attendance and participating in the ceremony.
I was appalled to note that, shortly after, a gentleman posted a comment which essentially urged the prime minister to call the general elections based (ostensibly) on the ‘breaking news’ of the resignation of Mike Henry.
I would not have it! I gentle urged him to respect the Office of the Prime Minister and the memory of a stalwart who was one of the architects of our Constitution. I am pleased to report that, after three attempts, he conceded that it was not an appropriate place to exercise his right to free speech.
However, I am (decidedly) NOT happy!
Politics is dirty business! There – I said it! I imagine that to be good at it, you probably have to pander to people who you do not like and who could not care less about you – except to be able to use the ‘apparent’ power you will have as a Member of Parliament, Minister of Government or Prime Minister. It is also dangerous business, with long hours and treachery around every corner. People will be with you today, and tomorrow they will cast you aside. Who in his/her right mind would want to be a Politician? Not me!
Sure, there are many perks – travel, fringe benefits and – of course – the sheer power. But, at what price – especially to family?
Yet, if everybody felt as I do – who would serve and take care of the nation’s business?
We bask in the freedom that we have – while refusing to get our hands dirty – and then cuss our politicians for not doing what we want them to do!
Yes, I know that some are seemingly corrupt! But, correct me if I am wrong: there is only one Jamaican politician that has ever been sent to prison for illicit acts. It is, therefore, ill-conceived that we would wipe all politicians with the same brush; when we are not prepared to stand in the gap.
Corruption is every where, in all professions, and at all levels. And the truth is: there would be no one taking the bribe if there was no one offering the payment! That process of getting your drivers’ licence or other permit that you avoided by paying someone is corruption. The traffic ticket that you did not pay because you paid someone to get rid of it is corruption. The simple things count! And there are several other examples.
It is time that we give due respect to those who would offer themselves to serve and who desire to do so honourably.
As I ponder on the memory of those who have left us – especially in relatively recent times – I pay homage to David Coore, O. T. Williams, Danny Buchanan, Hugh Shearer, Michael Manley, and the many others who gave of their lives in service. I also pay homage to those who are still with us but no longer in active politics – Edward Seaga, P. J. Patterson and Bruce Golding. And finally, I give respect to Andrew Holness, our current prime minister, and Portia Simpson-Miller, our immediate past prime minister. Of course the list in each category is not exhaustive and I am sure that you have some names of your own to add, which could include some long serving veterans.
The fact is our politicians serve a useful purpose in the shaping of our nation and our destiny – just as any teacher, lawyer, doctor, nurse, fire fighter, the shop keeper and the business man.
If you think the current crop is so bad and you can do so much better – offer yourself for service!
Yes, chastise them all you want; join the band wagon for which ever party you support, engage in the debate and the democratic process; but for heaven’s sake – give respect where respect is due!
And for God sake – respect our institutions and the incumbent persons in our ‘high’ offices. When we disrespect them – we disrespect ourselves and our heritage.
Walk good, ’til next time …