Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says Jamaicans must establish a set of principles, which will unite the nation, as it is this type of foundation that will keep the society together.
The Minister emphasized that moral values are important to the development of the country, and that ethics, underpinned by principles, are critical.
Rev. Thwaites was addressing the Kiwanis Club of North St. Andrew general meeting, held at the Police Officers’ Club on Hope Road in Kingston, on January 17. The theme of his speech was: ‘Ethics in Politics’.
Lamenting the attitude of division, based on political beliefs, he said that while there are differences between the political system and mindset that obtained in the past and what exists now, there is still room for further improvement.
“What we need to do is determine a set of principles about ourselves as Jamaicans that are going to unite us and dispose us toward those difficult things that we must do, that we can do, in order that we achieve the goals of development, of sufficiency, not for some, but for all of our people,” the Minister argued.
Meanwhile, he said Jamaica’s situation is “not all that bleak,” as there are many agencies and institutions of civil society, which have emerged and “from time to time remind us of ethical principles based on an ideological position that we should adhere to,” he said.
Rev. Thwaites said the views of these entities and individuals can have a very strong influence on the behaviour of the country’s political culture.
“There are no sidelines to stand on…it is irresponsible and unethical for you to point fingers and complain while denying participation, or to circumscribe your own notion of democracy and the primacy of that value in society only by dipping your finger in ink once every five years,” he argued.
The Minister stressed that it is not only politicians who need to change their attitudes and behaviours. “Good leadership is very often influenced by good followship…change doesn’t take place from the top down, it takes place by rising from the bottom up,” he asserted.