The whole country needs a fresh start

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You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. — Mary Pickford

Some , like me, celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, others deny any such event happened. I agree with the sceptics that Jesus the Christ was not born at this particular time of our calendar year. But because I believe he was born, and his birth has serious significance, I celebrate!

For me, His birth signifies the chance for a new beginning; the chance for a fresh start! All new births should remind us of a fresh start, but especially the birth of the Christ of Christmas.

So, to all my readers, I wish you a rebirth, a fresh start in any area of your life that needs it at this time.

Join with me in wishing our nation, Jamaica, land we love, a fresh start, socially and politically, in which we all treat each other with dignity, produce for the national economy, and live in peace and harmony.

How serious are we about creating the new Jamaica? Is it mere talk or a deep commitment? Is there the gumption to undertake a process to achieve it? Do we believe it can be done?

I am one of those who believe that a new Jamaica can be created if we do all that is necessary to make it a reality.

Do all critical levels of leadership passionately believe in creating a new Jamaica?

Are we prepared to leave a good heritage for our children? They deserve it and shouldn’t have to create it for themselves. It is good parents who leave an inheritance for their children. Let’s take the necessary steps to create it.


What has to be done to achieve the creation of a new Jamaica?

Though many will say not much has been done in 56 years, it’s not too late to engage positive action towards personal, community and national transformation. We can use the same approach applied in the corporate world to bring about organisational change or move in a new direction. It’s not rocket science.

Numerous companies and organisations across the world have successfully undergone radical transformation in order to achieve prosperity. The same fundamental building and change principles can be applied to the construction of business or nation.

Few in recent times have applied organisational change principles to nation-building. Yet there is no great nation that was developed without a plan and a motivated people.

Nations like Singapore and South Korea have moved from poverty to prosperity, from crime-riddled to peaceful. Columbia has made tremendous strides. Ghana and Zambia were recently reclassified from poor to middle income by the World Bank. So nations can be transformed in much the same way that organisations can.

But transformation of a nation cannot come by taking a piecemeal approach. It demands a comprehensive approach. It involves the strategic synchronisation of economic, social and political elements so that the process is developmental. These, along with the spiritual, can create the tipping point for change to begin.

We can turn this nation around and it is not as difficult as some believe. Some good and positive signs are already taking place, more pronounced in the economic sphere. Our economy had seen near zero growth for decades. We rejoice and give credit to the People’s National Party (PNP) for initiatives they started. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has continued them and added dimensions. The signs of growth in the economy could be considered trending in the right direction. However, we must simultaneously be moving all vital sectors. More importantly, we cannot by sectoral or partisan action be tearing down the very thing we are building. Any such approach will ensure the expected goals will not be achieved or certainly will not be sustainable.

Very often when problems are vast, deep, multifaceted and complex, it is better, where it can be done, to make a fresh start rather than try to unravel the complexity. Our nation is like that in critical areas that have dogged us for decades.

Two areas in need of transformation are the political and a significant part of the social (inner cities, garrisons and rural deprivation) cultures. Every effort to date has failed to penetrate these two areas which have become the roots of our greatest national dilemma. They threaten national survival and all economic gains being made. A fresh start approach could allow us to break the stranglehold of these two monsters and renew ourselves.


What exactly is the Fresh Start principle to which I keep referring?

A Fresh Start would begin with an admission of wrongdoing (acknowledgement). We all have done something wrong that we need to admit in order to start a healing process. Don’t fool yourself, the only difference between yours, mine and a prime minister’s wrongdoing is the amount of people affected. A lawyer of long ago put it this way, “All have sinned…”

Another step in the Fresh Start process is the turning away from the wrong you have committed (behaviour change). We must make it clear that “wi dun with almshouse behaviour”.

The Fresh Start principle demands that we must be willing to forgive, no matter how grievous the wrong.

A new way forward must then be crafted, with new values, expectations and consequences (new parameters). The line must be drawn. And if the line is crossed, justice must be swift, firm, fair, and consistent.

Making a fresh start requires an honest assessment of the current situation and having a clear vision of what is the desired replacement. A strategic plan should then be prepared by covering the necessary steps and determining the parameters, setting the start time, notifying all the players, and then beginning. It will not cost the public purse as the commissions of enquiry and special task forces have. All it will cost is a commitment to change and the will to do it.

The time has come for us, as citizens, along with our Government, to decide whether we are going to continue to try and fix the difficult past by making cosmetic adjustments to an ingrained political and social system or make a fresh start.

We have changed many political administrations in our dilemma. They have not brought transformation, only deepened the wounds. We have had enough research and excellent reports and recommendations that are on shelves. They have not brought transformation. We have had many commissions of inquiry to which the same fate has fallen — they have not produced transformation.

We are a nation that shows it has no commitment to truth as a principle. Perhaps that is why we have refused to try a strategy that has proven to aid transformation in other nations and would be most useful for healing and renewal for our nation — a truth commission. Incidentally we made the call for a truth commission for the period of the late 70s – 90s for the healing of the nation, but it was rejected by the “powers”at the time. It could still be very therapeutic, but since the truth telling is not welcomed then the Fresh Start approach seems the next best option.

It seem to have eluded us as a people that it is truth that sets free. They have shied away from truth and clung to other methods of resolution that have not produced for us transforming results.

I am one hundred per cent in the Fresh Start camp. I recommend it as the best strategy to break the cords of the failed past and ignite excitement to build the new Jamaica.

Our Government cannot do it all. Government must know what it can do and what it can’t. It must recognise that other sides are needed in the process. Government has to call on and assign each supporting side its role and responsibility and hold each accountable.

Our new-era prime minister has stated his commitment to real change. He should assemble a Fresh Start team to support his apparent good-intentioned initiatives currently enacted. This is an all-inclusive approach, especially those who are in leadership in community, business and church. So this call goes to everyone.

I am pushing this matter publicly because the nation does not have the luxury of time to engage in a disjointed, slow-paced approach to transformation. Change is needed now and must roll down like a mighty stream so it can be urgently felt by all, especially those who have been marginalised and disadvantaged for much too long.

Sure, everything cannot be done at one time, but a visible framework that offers real hope must be evident to all.

It is within this context that all well-thinking Jamaicans here and abroad must push for a Fresh Start transformation. We must prevent the social explosion that has happened to other countries that have ignored the need to be transformed. We must raise the belief and hope in our people of a better tomorrow. A call for a Fresh Start approach will break the failed past and ignite excitement for a brighter future.

If not a fresh start, then what? Do we remain content to continue the same way, doing the same things, and expecting change? The national destiny is in our hands as citizens; either we revel in complaints and murmurings about a broken past or get up, brush off and make a fresh start.

Are you willing to play your part?

Copyright © 2018 by Rev Dr. Al Miller.

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