Information Minister Encourages Patriotism


Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, has expressed the view that patriotism and personal responsibility were key values that should be encouraged in Jamaicans in order to create a better Jamaica.
Minister Whiteman, who was speaking on Tuesday (Feb. 17), Access to Information/Values and Attitudes forum at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, said that Jamaicans needed to stop being ‘victims’, take control of their lives and take responsibility for their own actions.
He challenged the UWI students to ask themselves ‘What can they do to influence leadership behaviour in the political domain, as well as in the public domain and in the private sector?’ The students were also challenged to consider ways in which they can reshape the political organisations from within or change governance for the better when they become a part of the public apparatus.
“I am asking whether you should not become more involved yourselves, become informed, become involved, become identified with the best of Jamaica through the political system,” appealed Minister Whiteman.
The Minister lamented the absence of patriotism in a “globalised world where there is increasing preoccupation with material benefit and individual benefit or individual gain.”
He noted that patriotism was an outgrowth of the love and respect one had for oneself and sought to impress upon the future leaders and politicians, the importance of putting aside political affiliations or opinions and making national interest predominant, for the greater good of Jamaica.
“We must not confuse political preference or political identification with support for the country and preservation of its future. Some people believe that to support a national effort…is to show that you support the policies of the present government.
The two things don’t necessarily coincide. You can support the national thrust and direction, while having your own particular choice as what you will do the next time around,” he outlined.
The Information Minister and his team from both the Values and Attitudes Secretariat and the Access to Information (ATI) Unit, have been conducting forums at tertiary institutions across the island since late last year in an effort to sensitise the younger generation on the benefits of the Access to Information Act and to promote a change in mindset, on which success is dependent.
Minister Whiteman, in acknowledging that the process of changing or modifying values was a long term one, outlined that the key to success was not only to target very young and impressionable children – early childhood, primary school, prep-school age – but also to target the persons who influenced them. Effort is therefore being made to target teachers through teachers’ colleges, leaders (political, public and private), musicians, parents, young adults and adults in general. He stressed the importance of adults providing positive behaviours for the youth to emulate.
“Government agencies, the treatment of citizens, people in the public domain, regulatory bodies and leadership in all institutions have to create the enabling environment in which our youngsters can function in the way in which we seek to have them function,” he maintained.
The Values and Attitudes programme involves the teaching and reinforcing wholesome values and behaviour in Jamaicans and the encouragement of positive thinking and feeling among Jamaica’s youth. These values and attitudes include respect for self and others, honesty, integrity, discipline, responsibility and national pride.
Minister Whiteman charged the students to go forth and help to create a better, sustainable and prosperous Jamaica.
“Parties will be chosen and parties will be rejected, but Jamaica will always be there. And I believe we owe it to ourselves and to the future generations, to accept that and to act accordingly,” he said.

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