Devon Dick | PM on moral authority and moral agenda
Prime Minister (PM) Andrew Holiness said to Daniel Thomas, president of the Christian group Love March, "I reject the view that somehow you have a higher moral authority on this matter than I do," and then added afterwards that the discussion on the National Identity Card was "disingenuous, unfair, and untruthful". Nothing in the eight-minute video on YouTube shows Thomas challenging the moral authority of the PM. However, it appears that what the PM was referring to is a 12-minute video by Thomas titled 'NIDS Bill has been passed? Jamaica, what is going on?' In that monologue, Thomas was critical of the process and the content of the bill passed in Parliament and appeared to be challenging the morality of the PM.
It appears that the PM is claiming that he has a higher moral authority because in the discussions about NIDS, unlike others, he was not disingenuous, unfair or untruthful. The PM has put the issue of 'higher moral authority' on the national table for discussion and this is good and necessary. Obviously, Holness' moral authority is important to him, as it ought to be for him and us, including Thomas.
Moral authority is based on principles and truths which can be independent of written laws. It is adherence to the highest code of conduct. It means our nay is nay and our yea is yea. It is to speak the truth and speak it ever. It is to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. It means our word as well as our promise is our bond.
WE NEED A CHANGE NOW
As a nation, it is recognised that our state of affairs cannot continue to be as they have always been. The society is in a need of serious reordering, if it is not to descend into further disorder and decadence of the most disastrous proportions.
It appears as if there is a lack of a moral agenda, a moral vision and moral values. This lack facilitates the murder and mayhem, lawlessness and vigilante justice. To the best of our knowledge, the Growth Agenda does not come with a companion Moral Agenda of equal prominence, having a strategic plan and is adequately resourced, including having personnel to give oversight. But, we do need consensus on a moral agenda, moral vision, moral values which are just, responsible, sustainable and wholesome in order to flourish, and this would provide the motive and nature of our goal for a better Jamaica.
What would this Moral Agenda entail and possibly look like? There are seven features:
- Value all human life
- Value the totality of life
- Zero tolerance on corruption and sexual assault.
- Enforcement of the legitimate laws.
- Equality of all before the law.
- Encouragement of solidarity and simplicity lifestyle.
- Access to the basic goods and services, opportunities and resources for all to live in decency and die with dignity.
This is where the collective church comes in with our moral legacy informed by our religious tradition and folk wisdom to produce and put forward policies and actions committed to the cause of the common good. We cannot see prosperity only in economic terms but prosperity ought to be a means to live well, to live within our means, live well with each other and to live well with the natural environment.
People of goodwill, especially of the community of faith, need to join hands together in a partnership to promote the importance of moral authority, a moral agenda, moral values and a moral vision. There ought to be tangible changes in how we conduct business, engage in work and raise families. Yes, we need to adhere to a higher moral authority.
PS. Congrats to Leighton McKnight who will be honoured tonight by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica for his outstanding contribution to the institute and the accountancy profession.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com