Mon | Jun 24, 2019

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Civility in the midst of cruff

Published:Thursday | March 14, 2019 | 12:05 AM

We find ourselves slapdash in the middle of another by-election campaign and the attendant ‘cruff-ism’ that comes with political activism in Jamaica. It is bad enough that this by-election came about as a result of the murder of a sitting member of parliament, but to use that murder as political gimmickry was not just low-life, but also irresponsible, especially given the tribal nature of our politics. The sexist, racist and classist comments (my words) uttered by candidate Damion Crawford, in attempting to paint a picture of his opponent, Ann-Marie Vaz, were also low-life; ‘Out of Many, One People’ is still representative of who we are as Jamaicans.

I recall the ‘birther’ conspiracy card that was being played against then American presidential hopeful Barack Obama in 2008 when his opponent, the late John McCain, resolutely dismissed that hogwash and stoutly defended his opponent as a decent American family man. There is a lot that our political candidates and elected politicos can learn from the likes of John McCain.

It is not my intention, however, to focus on the goings-on associated with this by-election, or ‘buy-election’, as some claim, but rather to draw attention to the fact that despite the ‘cruff-ism’ taking place in East Portland, there are a lot of positives occurring elsewhere.

Commitment inspires civility

Last week Thursday, as I was driving past King’s House, one rahtid piece a rain buss, completely drenching a policeman who was there at the intersection directing traffic. He stood his ground and continued to perform his duties, notwithstanding that he had no protection from the rain. I felt an upswelling of pride just watching: commitment despite the odds.

But that was the least of the positives, because in the middle of the intersection, a vehicle stopped and someone offered an umbrella to the policeman, and although he declined the offer, that act of kindness was extremely touching. Yes, commitment to duty, civil-mindedness and kindness still thrive here in Jamaica, even while ‘cruff-ism’ dominates the limelight.

Silent, but effective

I had the opportunity to attend an awards ceremony for the Women’s Leadership Initiative on Friday evening. They were honouring various foundations, social-intervention endeavours linked to prominent corporate entities throughout Jamaica. The works undertaken by these foundations were awesome, as were the impacts that their activities have had on the lives of so many needy Jamaicans.

I am also aware of the tremendous work done by members of service clubs: Rotarians, Kiwanis, and Lions and Lionesses, to name a few. Then, there are the countless others working quietly to help improve the lives of ordinary Jamaicans, especially the less fortunate. These unsung heroes are not necessarily people of means, but their hearts are in the right place. Thank you all.

Now, one would not likely hear the executives of any of these corporate giants or the service clubs publicly waxing on about their great deeds, but mek one politician get behind a microphone an see how quick dem tell yuh how dem give yuh road, water and electricity.

If dem was blowing dem own trumpet alone, dat would not be too bad, but the belittling of their opponents is what invariably defines the low-life character of so many of them.

This brings to mind the Rotarians’ four-way test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

I therefore urge our politicos to adopt a similar ethos and ask themselves these questions before putting mouth in gear. If the answer to any of them is no, don’t say it. Take the high road. Civility over ‘cruff-ism’ any day.

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