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A mind to work – Part 2

Al Miller

Sunday, June 18, 2017

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The urgent need for national transformation cannot be overstated. All our national energy should be focused in that direction. It will not happen by chance. It has to be intentional.

Jamaica has a critical need for a citizenry prepared with a mind to work. I have defined this as a mindset, a certain attitude that was willing to work with enthusiasm and to do all that it lawfully takes to rebuild one's nation and produce for one's national economy. Interestingly, we seem to have had such a people in the pre-independence era.

A Demotivated Generation

Since gaining self-governance, we have developed a post-independence generation (under 30 years) in whom that mindset has been replaced with a dependency syndrome; a demotivated and lethargic attitude. Those over 30, in the meantime, appear too fearful or too preoccupied with survival, or too disheartened or too consumed with their personal achievement or wealth to lift themselves up. Notwithstanding, we must resolve to do what is necessary. It is not beyond us.

If we believe that the people are a nation's best asset, then mobilising the people and equipping them with a mind to work is fundamental to the process. Most people are not self-starters. If they were, there would be no market for motivational books by Norman Peale or Napoleon Hill, nor would there be the need for inspirational leaders in church or government. Many can be self-motivated but it requires leadership to mobilise most people. They have to be mobilised in mind and attitude around a cause.

Mobilisation, A National Imperative

Let's apply this principle to our nation and build the new Jamaica that has been much talked about. It's imperative that we mobilise our people around a cause.

Have we had national leadership of the last 30 years that have mobilised the people for a cause? Most of our leaders have tried to lead the people without mobilising them. They inspire no one except the 'party faithful' to vote and there has been no cause that excites; only a few election promises that in most cases prove empty.

The fact is, we have had no leader who has sought to mobilise the people around a shared, common cause; for example, to build the new Jamaica, a place where the vast majority prospers. It is impossible to produce that for which you have no vision.

Where are the Pregnant Leaders?

Do we have leaders pregnant with a vision and strategies to build a new Jamaica of Justice, Truth and Prosperity for all? Are they weighted with the child growing within, pressing for delivery? Who are they? Where are they? Will they come forth now?

Our nation needs some leaders who are pregnant with such a cause now. You cannot deliver what you are not pregnant with. Our post-independence leaders were pregnant with the cause of independence for Jamaica. They delivered it! But what since then?

Unless our leaders are pregnant with a cause they cannot create a people with a mind to work and inspire those people to achieve great things. I am completely convinced that our Jamaican people possess the ability and the will to turn this nation around in record time.

Captain Horace Burrell's recent passing reminded us of a time when Jamaica rallied around a cause — getting to World Cup Finals in 1998. Do you remember the excitement? Even people uninterested in football gained interest because of the cause. From Negril to Morant Point, Jamaicans joined in. I pause to convey my condolence to Captain's loved ones. May you be comforted during this time of grief.

Now, how are we going to get a people with a 'mind to work' excited and inspired to build the new Jamaica, even moreso than going to the World Cup?

Empathetic Leaders with a good plan

Firstly, we need a leadership that has carefully surveyed the current state of the nation, from Negril to Morant Point, looking at every grouping and sector. We need leaders who are dissatisfied with the status quo; they must feel deeply and carry the pain of the suffering and fears of the people; they must become angry at the plight of the people and determine in their minds and believe in their hearts that things must change now.

Secondly, they must devise a workable detailed plan to build the new Jamaica. We may already have the essence of it in the 2030 vision.

Thirdly, our leaders must bring the heads of critical sectors together and share the vision to build the new Jamaica. They must plumb their own conviction and stimulate their passion; get buy-in and challenge each to build within his or her areas of influence.

Fourthly, we must mobilise the people around the 'cause' of building a new Jamaica, changing the negative international image; shaking off the wrong influence and control of the new colonial type powers determined to enslave us again… different bark … same breed ah dawg.'

People Mobilised: The Authentic Jamaican!

We must stop and look at ourselves and affirm who we are. We cannot continue to be a shadow of who we really are — a false image created by circumstances, history and the lies that we have believed. It is time to shake off the labels and show to the world the real Jamaican.

So let's ask ourselves the question: Who is an authentic Jamaican? In case you are not aware, here's who we are:

We are an amazing people, overflowing with ability and potential to do anything to which we put our minds. We are blessed with ability — academically and physically. Anywhere we go, we find a way to rise to the top. Even if what we attempt is not common to our culture or personal experience, we find a way to do it better than others. We did bobsledding without the benefit of ice and snow and performed at a world class level; we've won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the US, even though we were groomed on UK English, and we win international law school debates. We do robotics, our music is world renowned and we run faster than most. We have an outsized impact on the world.

How Wi Dweet Ah JA

I am reminded of a friend of mine, Young, who migrated to New York about 35 years ago, with no particular skill. He tried for a while and could not find meaningful employment. Someone told him of a building project where he could try to find something on the site. He went and was hired.

On his first day the supervisor needed to move mixed concrete from the ground to about the 10th floor of a 30-storey building. There was a pulley system in place with ropes hanging down. He had never worked on a building site before and had never seen such a contraption. When asked if he could operate it, his response was “Yes man, a easy ting dat; mi a expert but you just show how you do it up here.”

The man assigned proceeded to demonstrate. After observing him for a few minutes, he said, “Ahrite sah, move deh mek mi show you how we dweet ah Jamaica.” He summoned his greatest strength and pulled hard on the ropes, and quickly the bucket was up on the 10th floor. Then, he said to the supervisor, “ah so man work.” Needless to say, the rest is history. Today he is a contractor in Canada doing very well.

Who I Am, Who You Are! Who We Are!

Being an authentic Jamaican is being tallawah — resilient, hard-working, aggressive and confident. We tun wi han' and mek fashion. We are creative, productive and innovative; resourceful, and passionate. We are kindhearted, warm and friendly; fun-loving and caring; happy and easygoing.We are peace-loving. We are God-fearing, law-abiding, and disciplined. We are nation builders and defenders. We are go getters.We go hard and done. We are world class and first class.

As a people, we must know ourselves, settle our true identity and agree on it. A people with the kind of ability, fortitude and drive that Jamaicans possess only need to be harnessed, mobilised, inspired and directed toward a common cause — a clear vision — and we will be amazed at what we can achieve. Galvanizing this tremendously talented people has eluded us for decades because we have been led off on a negative trail without visionary leadership.

Michael Manley started and stopped

Who can remember when Michael Manley, with a vision, mobilised us, brought out hope and excitement in us as a people? He had the nation on a path but he himself, as the saying goes, “milk the cow and then kick over the milk”. What a disappointment! The people willing to be mobilised are still waiting for a cause to work toward.

We are a great people. Let us not allow how we are being now to define who we are. What we are doing is fundamentally a response to how we have been led and the pressures of the peculiar circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Let us instead define and speak of ourselves as who we really are and begin to be who we are. Let us assiduously work to change the circumstances that have created the negative behaviours done primarily for survival. This survival mode has resulted in corruption, dependency, bandoolooism, wrongly directed aggression, selfishness, greed, lack of trust, and oppression. Survival mode makes us turn on each other, resulting in high murder, crime, violence and abuse rates.

Divisive Politics and Spineless Church

This system — created and led by divisive and violent political actors and observed by an insular and spineless church leadership that failed to recognise its responsibility to stand up for justice for the people — must be stopped and reversed. A new environment must be created to release the true Jamaican spirit to the world.

Next week we will look at strategies to get the under-so generation prepared to engage the cause and be prepared to utilise the opportunities to propel us to greatness. We can and must do it. A fi wi country, mek we buil' it!

If you don't see yourself in that list, then you perhaps belong somewhere else. Otherwise, embrace and express these qualities immediately, for being Jamaican is not just a nationality, it's a mindset and attitude…to the world!

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