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Jamaicans Urged To Embrace Positive Values And Attitudes
KINGSTON (JIS) -- Jamaicans are being urged to embrace positive values and attitudes in order to mend the moral fabric of the country and thereby contribute to economic development. The call comes from veteran journalist and Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Ian Boyne. “Our values and attitudes are central to any meaningful quest to economic development,” Mr. Boyne asserted, while delivering the 4th annual Ted Dwyer Lecture at the Excelsior Community College in Kingston on March 30. Mr. Boyne argued that the social issues the country is now grappling with – high violence, high corruption, domestic abuse of women, gender imbalance – impact on economic development, which cannot be achieved until persons adjust their moral standards. “We have a dilapidated social infrastructure; you need to fix the people. You can’t just be talking about fixing the economy,” he said.
Mr. Boyne commended former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, who he said was “prescient and insightful” when he launched the Values and Attitudes Programme in the early 1990s, which sought to address indiscipline, incivility and violence, with the aim to achieve attitudinal change and social renewal in the society.
“He was right to recognise that if you were to be talking about national development, we would have to give people a vision about Jamaica, have them buy into that vision, and buy into a certain set of values,” he said.
He lamented that Jamaica now has a “collapsing social infrastructure” where value is placed on one’s material possessions and “getting ahead” instead of what previously pertained from the 1940s to the 1970s, when volunteerism and civic pride were emulated.
Mr. Boyne suggested that there be a concerted effort to try to recapture these values, noting that back then, the youth were thinking about building a new Jamaica, were studying radical ideas of black power, and there was a belief that life was not just about what they acquired.
He further posited that the current discourse in the country needs to involve more discussions about values and attitudes, and that “we ignore this issue to our peril”.
“We are overdue for a front-and-centre discussion about what type of society we are building. It has to go beyond the economics. In order for us to energise the youth, we have to develop some countervailing values against the values that are purveyed (through technology such as) mobile devices that capture our youth,” he said.
In answering his own question as to how the attention of today’s youth could be regained, Mr. Boyne suggested that the country needs a unifying vision.
“The political leaders have to find the means of articulating a vision for the people beyond just personal interest,” he said.
He suggested that the youth could be reached through the popular dancehall culture, which he said is a main source of socialisation for young people and which has “a greater influence than school, church and traditional media”.
“If we could turn around the dancehall, where the dancehall artistes now are ‘bigging up’ teachers who help the youth; ‘bigging up’ the nurses who could have gone away, but they are staying here to help people; and ‘bigging up’ the student from the inner city who is studying his book; if those messages could be reinforced in the dancehall, that would be good,” he said.
The lecture was held in honour of the late Ted Dwyer who was the founding Principal of Excelsior Community College in 1974. He held the position until he retired in 2000.