Saturday 22 September, 2018

A view from the outside: The value of constructive criticism

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

                                                                  With Karyl Walker

A true friend will tell you as it is. No frills, no sugar coating, just the cold hard truth.

True friends are different from yes men. Someone who genuinely cares for you will be the one to tell you when they think you are going wrong and why. Yes men will tell you what you want to hear, stroke your ego and tell you everything is fine and all is well - while all the time your pants are on fire. By the time you realize your peril it is too late, the damage can no longer be repaired. Then you find yourself marooned in the island of despair and destruction with the same yes men nowhere in sight.

Life has taught me not to surround myself with yes men.

Anybody who knows me well, knows I am not a yes man. I tell you as it is. I reserve that right and I afford that right to anyone around me, even my children.

But there are some Jamaicans who are so dedicated to their party that they love the organization more than their children. To criticize their party is to them the ultimate sin. An act of the devil incarnate. These are the people who will exact strict discipline if their children stray out of line but support anything in the name of party.

If they are supporters of the People’s National Party, everything that party does is right, even when the truth stares them in the face, the party is always right. The same is true for the diehard supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party.

Some are faithful worshippers for different reasons. In some cases it has been a family or community tradition, like sheep they know no other path home than that charted by the shepherd while in other cases gluttonous snouts are so deeply entrenched in the feeding trough that all sight of common decency and reason is completely blurred.

Say something against the system that feeds their bulging guts and you die. If you don’t die then they will try everything in their power to malign you and make your existence miserable. They are the ones who will do everything but recognize the truth for what it is.

I am a simple man. One who loves my country dearly and have every intention to do all I can to assist in bringing the land of wood and water back to the halcyon days when we were the pearl of the Caribbean. There is no place I would rather be than in Jamaica.

All of my working life has been spent in Jamaica. I have been a part of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) sector for at least 35 years. The state collected their portion of my earnings (33 per cent) before I even touched my salary. In addition I paid General Consumption Tax, contributed to the National Housing Trust and I have never ran afoul of the law.

As a law-abiding taxpayer, it is my right to hold those who are given the important task of taking care of the nation’s business accountable. If my doing so ruffles a few feathers, so be it.

I have no doubt that every individual who has been installed as Prime Minister of Jamaica has had the intention to do that job to the best of their ability. I cannot fathom that any Jamaican would deliberately set out to sink the country in the depths of poverty, crime and social upheaval.

But sometimes the yes men make their jobs difficult.

People who hold important positions need a voice of reason. They need those persons who will be bluntly honest and offer what they deem to be the best advice to help the ruling head make an informed decision that will eventually affect the lives of the entire population.

In a previous column, I took the Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness to task over his handling of the Petrojam affair. The same day the article became available for public consumption, the yes men were out with daggers drawn, frothing at the mouth and calling for blood on various social media platforms. It did not matter if I stated that I see Mr Holness as an articulate, competent and decent human being, who has the best intentions for our country. All that mattered to the yes men was the fact that I was criticizing the Prime Minister.

I am not fazed by their empty protests as I am sure that the savvy person that Mr Holness is, he read the column for what it was worth, if he had taken time out of his busy schedule to read it at all. I believe he knows it was not a personal attack but constructive criticism. I know he is not as petty as those around him who may be jostling for his favour.

Mr Holness, my advice to you as a humble Jamaican who shares your love for our country is, BE CAREFUL OF YES MEN. Be very careful of those who will seek your ear to whisper sweet words to boost their selfish agendas. Jamaica needs you to stand up for the country and do all you can to keep our good name free from the stains of corruption.

I believe you respect those who tell you how they truly feel.

Jamaica is cursed with too many yes men and that is my view from the outside.  

Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.

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