MESSAGE FROM THE MOST HON. PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER, ON, MP, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION


Heritage Week 2007 provides us with yet another valuable opportunity to gain new insights into the journey of our people.
The theme of the Week, “Respect for our heritage . commitment to our nation”, is really a formula for successful nation-building. We build strong foundations for nationhood by embracing our heritage; applying its valuable lessons to present circumstances and enriching and preserving it for the next generation. Showing respect for our heritage is part of a serious commitment to our nation, which we demonstrate when we think, feel, speak, act and react in ways that will lift up our people. All seven of our National Heroes were committed to improving the conditions of their fellow men and women by taking human development to the next level. They dedicated their lives to a purpose, which they considered greater than individual self-interest. This is the first requirement of becoming a true hero or s/hero. Today, we are in need of more people who will take the hero’s journey, by serving a cause greater than themselves. This cause is Jamaica. We need more women, men, youth and senior citizens who are willing to put in the extra time, effort and dedication to overcome the great challenges we face.
Violence is the biggest of the challenges – a relentless enemy that must be defeated. It does not matter, whether we look at violence from the perspective of Government or Opposition; from a community seeing babies and entire families wiped out by gunfire, or from a gated community. It does not matter whether we look at violence from the point of view of young children trying to make sense of the slaying of a classmate; or from the point-of-view of policemen and women with tears in their eyes grieving over a fallen colleague. It does not matter whether we see violence from the perspective of someone who has lost a loved one to the gun or the knife, or from someone who just wants to see Jamaica succeed. The conclusion is the same one. The violence must stop. We need new inspiration, wisdom and strength to put an end to violence. Our history shows that the present generation is not the only one that has been confronted with challenges. In fact, every stage of our development came about because of the urgent need to find a solution to a large problem. Each one of our National Heroes came to prominence by responding to the major problem of the period in which they worked. Nanny and Sam Sharpe emerged as leaders because they rebelled against slavery. Paul Bogle and George William Gordon responded to the great injustices that slavery left in its wake.
It was racial, political, cultural and economic oppression of his people that lit a revolutionary fire in Marcus Garvey. The plight of the working classes under colonialism spoke to the heart of Alexander Bustamante. Norman Manley was moved to action by the stifling effect on the people of Jamaica of the dead hand of colonialism. Times of challenge produce heroes and s/heroes. Let this time be no different, as we continue the efforts as a national family to stop violence, to educate our children and youth, to build a prosperous Jamaica and make poverty history. In this period, as we celebrate our heritage, let us honour all our heroes and s/heroes, not only those who rest peacefully in National Heroes Park, but everyone who has served Jamaica with excellence; leaders and achievers in every field – outstanding athletes, scientists, musicians, singers, artists; business people; professionals in every field – and the men and women who are hard-working decent, caring productive citizens and responsible parents. We have been blessed with a rich and colourful heritage, one that has sustained us and delighted the world. The challenges of the day are simply opportunities for us to use our inherited gifts of deep spirituality, strength, courage, wisdom and creativity.
May God bless you and keep you strong, loving and powerful.

JIS Social