THE EDITOR, Sir:
The first letter I wrote to The Gleaner was published on the eve of this country's Independence. I was a schoolboy and the youngest Sunday school teacher in my church.
Invoking Proverbs 14:34 - "righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people ..." - I wrote passionately on the subject. When it was published, I was the hero in Brown's Town for the entire day.
We have, since then, divided ourselves into two warring tribes, preying on the country's resources and blaming each other for the country's failures. The last time I checked, however, every single MP is a relative or friend to the rest of us. We go to the same places for worship, education or recreation. We chose them to represent us. They are what we see when we look in the mirror.
Can we, therefore, claim to be blameless when any type of reckoning reveals that the country should be much further ahead than where it now is?
For many of the developed countries, the road to Independence was painful and bloody. There are those who think that ours came too easily.
Many view the present celebrations with mixed feelings. Some of us are just coming to the realisation that we simply traded perceived oppression for starvation and joblessness for employed poverty.
The truth is that Independence won't change what we are not willing and able to change ourselves.
May I suggest that we all get involved in this task of nation building. All of us. If we do not work at it together, I fear we will be having the same discussions at our centenary. And each of us is not required to do something earth-shattering.
Guilty civil servants, for example, could simply start giving a full day's work. What exists now is wholesale fraud. The boss could cease creating unnecessary jobs for friends. This new thrust is going to involve many people making many sacrifices.
In our quest for genuine nationhood, we must understand that Independence - like getting rid of the Queen - is not a panacea for struggling, underdeveloped countries. It is simply wistful romanticism to lust after Independence without a truly meaningful cause or course to follow.
Our aim should be to become a truly functional society in the world. And all hands are needed.
Stony Hill, Kingston 9