We must vote for hope, vote for life, vote for a brighter future for all of our loved ones. — Ed Markey
The Portland Eastern by-election is in sight. It looms larger than its tiny north-eastern life because of its national importance for both participants and their major backers or beneficiaries.
If People’s National Party (PNP) nice-talker and charisma-filled Damion Crawford loses, the resulting tsunami-size ripple effect may impact the party president’s office at 89 Old Hope Road. It could also flow as far as the office of the undisputed champion of St Thomas politics, Dr Fenton Ferguson. The natives there could, because of Damion’s defeat, decide that if Portlanders can shake off 30 years of PNP reign, St Thomasanders can shake off 26 years of PNP’s reign too.
If Ann-Marie “Action Ann” Vaz, wife of Daryl “Mr Portland” Vaz, loses, her tsunami may cause great consternation for her husband in Portland Western. It may cause the natives there to conclude that their Member of Parliament (MP) is not invincible.
It is important to understand that this is no ordinary or normal by-election. This is especially evident if you add to the mix the importance of the north-eastern coastline to tourism development and national security.
So, whom should Portlanders choose as their next MP for Portland Eastern?
Here is some helpful advice, especially for the undecided, non-tribal, non-partisan voter. This advice is drawn from over 6,000 years of our human experience of making collective decisions and choosing people to represent us.
This historical record and advice is primarily from what is religiously revered by some as The Holy Bible. To many of us it is not perceived as just a religious book, but rather it is a manual given by the Creator to guide us on how to live successful lives, build great nations, and manage Earth; covering all aspects of human experience and existence. Let’s take a look:
1. Choose educated, God-fearing representatives
This advice is from the historical record of a group of people called Hebrews (about eight – 10 families: 20 – 30 people) who migrated to Egypt during difficult times (circa 1600-1500 BC). Many years later, after their ethnic group had grown and settled but not assimilated into Egyptian culture and community, they were expelled (over 600,000 people), by mutual agreement, because they were regarded as a threat to Egypt’s culture, religion and national security; even though they were making significant contribution to Egypt’s economy. Their “forced migration” is now popularly known as The Exodus.
Having left the political dictatorship of Egypt, they had to embrace another form of governance, and, therefore, elections became necessary. The actual advice from their historical records, states: Select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders (Exodus 18:21)… Choose some knowledgeable, wise and understanding men… (Deuteronomy 1:12-13).
Knowledge is acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, from study, investigation and experience. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge in the best interests of those who need wise action.
This electoral advice was later validated by a mixed group of people who had formed a faith community (circa 40 AD). Their religious group experienced “quantum” leap growth, from about 12 individuals to thousands (the community grew in one day by 3,000). This demanded a more efficient distribution of resources (scarce benefits?), especially as there was evidence of preferential treatment and neglect of some ethnicities.
The advice from the faith community’s historical records of activity, aptly called Acts, states: “…choose…from among you those who are known to be wise and full of the Spirit and…turn this responsibility over to them.” (Acts 6:2-3)
Consequently, the faith community leaders chose seven people who evidenced love, joy, peace, tolerance, kindness, integrity, and truthfulness as established values and attitudes, and who had a reputation for being firm, fair and consistent in their actions.
Choosing “God-fearing” individuals does not necessarily mean religious or church-going. Love, compassion, honesty, humility, tolerance, freedom, equality, and justice are the values and attitudes or “signs” of being God-fearing. Choose those.
In addition, being knowledgeable and wise does not necessarily mean you must be a graduate of The University of the West Indies. People who know the issues relevant to you and your community, and the solutions needed to transform them, are the ones knowledgeable and wise. Choose those.
2. Choose those who show respect and reverence for life
This electoral advice from the ancient Hebrew culture states: “…I have set before you life and death… Now choose life, so that you and your children may live… Choose…men of respect…” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 and 1:12-13)
We do not presently have a culture of respect and reverence for life in this Jamaica, land we love, even though we call each other “boss”, “king”, “big man”, and “empress”. If respect and reverence for life were current Jamaican morals and culture we would not disrespect or kill each other for the slightest of reasons, neither would you tense up as you approach a police checkpoint and worry that the police may distress you instead of defend you as they fulfil their duty to serve and protect.
If respect and reverence for life were current Jamaican values and attitudes, you would not feel the sting of impoliteness at a government agency by those being paid to be polite to you, neither would your money be taken with a snarl instead of a smile as you make your purchase at a business place. For, while some slaughter with the gun, others slaughter with the tongue.
If this is to be transformed, our Members of Parliament must be one of the first groups of leaders to embrace and express real respect and reverence for life. Therefore, we must choose representatives who display positive speech and actions which encourage, empower, and build up others.
3. Choose visionary representatives
One of the Hebrews rose to prominence in Egypt as a result of being adopted by the daughter of the pharaoh of Egypt in that historical period, Pharaoh Thutmose I (1540-1504 BC). Born Hebrew, but raised an Egyptian, Moses had to make a choice as an adult regarding his allegiance. He chose to honour his “roots” and identify with and advocate for the rights of his Hebrew brothers and sisters. Their historical records state: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, renounced his title ‘Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter’. He chose instead to stand with his people…because he was looking ahead…” (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Moses had a vision for his nation that was more important than his own desire for personal enrichment and power. We must choose people who are “looking ahead” to propel our nation forward, not looking at self to enrich and establish petty power.
Jamaica’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica, provides that ”looking ahead” vision for Jamaica and articulates it in four clear goals:
1) Jamaicans are empowered to achieve their fullest potential.
2) The Jamaican society is secure, cohesive and just.
3) Jamaica’s economy is prosperous.
4) Jamaica has a healthy natural environment.
So choose the person whose thinking, talking and actions are in line with our Vision 2030, and who have a record of developing something. Check their private and non-political life. Are they speaking about and working toward Vision 2030 Jamaica goals? If not, it is hardly likely they will do so when elected.
Some believe that we will never be free of tribal, partisan politics and voting. Perhaps this by-election will prove them wrong. For, if the Forward with Crawford PNP team wins by say 3,000 votes or more, or if the Action Ann JLP team wins by one vote or more, it means somebody broke tribal rank and added their vote to the other side. Let’s see how it go nuh?
Copyright © 2019 by Rev Dr. Al Miller.