WHEN will our leaders recognise that their place in leadership does not mean that people should have nothing to say against them because they lead? And that, rather, it really means the opposite?
I think something extra is rubbing off of China, with our leaders telling us how we should feel or react and trying to muzzle our speech.
Following the explosions in Tianjin China, the BBC media reports that “dozens of websites have been shut down for allegedly spreading rumours”.
“The state news agency Xinhua said 50 sites were accused of creating panic by publishing unverified information about the blasts. Hundreds of social media accounts have also been closed down since the explosions on Wednesday.”
This is what they do in China: shut down the voice when they don’t like what it says.
But this is not China – yet. Is it?
Are we trading in our free speech? Does Fred Mitchell represent Xinhua? Does Sarkis Izmirlian symbolise the Chinese people?
What’s this song and dance about respect? And I mean, literally, a song and a dance. Two dances, actually.
Mr Prime Minister Christie, Mr Foreign Affairs Minister Mitchell, if you want R.E.S.P.E.C.T, first you need to get a couple of new moves.
The people you doin’ the shuffle and robot for cannot relate. Know your target audience. You know who you need to help you win the 2017 election, and they don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no shuffle and robot.
But back to this matter of respect. Are you kidding me, Mr Prime Minister, Mr Mitchell?
Let me tell you the first thing about respect: it is earned, not enforced. You want our respect, earn it. Your position, while lofty, does not automatically convey respect upon your office.
You argue that the office of the Prime Minister itself is what commands respect, and that it’s not about the individual, but I will argue on behalf of my people that the individual must fully embody the characteristics of the office if it is held in high regard; they are one and the same.
I think #teamPLP is having a hard time understanding this with their multiple personalities. You have Christie on one end, Mitchell and Shane Gibson on the other end of the clarion, demanding that people respect the office, but what they are really saying is “respect Mr Christie”.
Gibson has even pulled a Christie with his three select personalities: the private individual, the Cabinet minister, and the member of parliament.
Well, if you all realised that the offices you hold are equivalent to the men the people see when you get up to talk, you might be a little closer to getting that respect you crave.
You cannot separate the person from the office, because the majority of people will always see the person as the office. What you seem to want to encourage is blind worship. Big surprise. Respect the king because he’s king. I don’t think so.
I would agree that no one should go out of their way to deliberately disrespect any human being in any regular position or position of authority, but respect because “I say so” is not acceptable. Contrary to your skewed belief system, this is not a fiefdom. And we are not your serfs.
Who do you think put the “king” there?
The people respected the office of “king”, then they chose a person they believed could personify kingship, in the sense of dignity. You had to be equal enough to the office, at least in their eyes, to be chosen in the first place. Don’t get confused.
What is happening now is that as you, Mr Prime Minister, Mr Mitchell, Mr Gibson, and the lot of you, fall from the people’s collective grace, you are beginning to see that fall in the level of respect they have for you. Your people are no longer afraid to express that as it truly is. Not only are they not afraid to say what they have to say, but other people you once believed should bow down to you, lick your heels, throw money in the till, and just go with the programme, are indirectly telling you that any respect you get is because you deserve it and any respect you don’t get is because you don’t deserve it.
How much clearer could it be?
But, no, instead of taking the hint, getting the message, and going off to do something inward about it, you want to get mad and sound off in front of the biggest grassroots voting population and make them (even more) hateful towards the foreigner.
Mr Mitchell says that the foreigner’s comments are argumentative, inappropriate and improper. But, if he the foreigner feels he’s been done an injustice, does he not have a right to express that? Further, if Mr Mitchell perceived the foreigner’s comments to be as such, it’s because he chose to see them as such.
He purports that there is a file of complaints against the foreigner. And that investors should not be speaking in this way.
What? “We” who invest billions, and “we” who comprise the country can’t speak freely? What should the investor do? Kneel, kiss, worship, and pay under the table? As is the way of the people, I suppose?
I guess if you don’t want your own people to speak freely, you won’t take too kindly to outsiders speaking freely, especially if they are saying what the people want to say.
One thing I’ve learned in more than a decade of writing, is that people see and extract what is most convenient or appropriate for/ to them. Nothing more, nothing less. But, newsflash!
The foreigner, in this case, though not always, is saying exactly what the people think and feel. You throwing out a mantra of “respect, respect, respect” doesn’t get you respect. But you don’t seem to grasp that. And the fact that you are doing the shuffle and the robot really doesn’t help. It’s not cute. It’s not relevant. It does not translate. And, if anything, it loses you respect for thinking of the people you serve as so unintelligent and easily manipulated.
Stop insulting your people with your shuck and jive. It builds no affinity for you, or the offices you hold ... since you insist the two are not the same.
And you may feel you have good intentions, or the best intentions, but you need to accept that your intentions don’t matter.
Let me rope in the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General and drive this point home.
You could do your jobs with all your heart and soul. Beneath the cold, calculating exteriors, you may be warm people. But, as leaders in your respective positions, you cannot earn respect unless you are effective at what you do. That is the bottom line. There is no other yardstick to evaluate how much respect you get from the people you serve. But, it appears, your yardstick for measuring respect is not the same as ours ... the populace’s.
In one of my favourite mind-bending films, Oblivion, there is a question the agents are repeatedly asked, to which they unhesitatingly reply in the affirmative.
“Are you an effective team?”
A negative response to this question results in an immediate excommunication, a penalty equivalent, in that film, to death.
It doesn’t matter, Mr Prime Minister, Mr Mitchell, Mr Gibson, Mrs Attorney General, Mr Commissioner of Police etc, how effective you want to be, how effective you are trying to be, or how long you’ve been trying, or how much you care. Your self-assessment is irrelevant.
If you are not effective, then you are ineffective. And when you are ineffective, it is time for you to vacate whatever position you inhabit – Prime Minister, Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister, Attorney General, Commissioner of Police, PLP government. Go. Git.
As I write this, there is a radio host discussing on air The Bahamas’ No.12 world ranking for crime and murder. This didn’t happen yesterday. Or last year. This has been building since education to create thinking people and people of self-worth was put on the back burner for Bahamians. And it builds more and more, the longer we, the people, allow ineffective leaders to lead us.
Leaders don’t know when to leave or stop, especially when they’ve been doing it for so long and it is all they know. But you (leaders and people they lead) need to know when to cut your losses.
The nature of the human being is to hang on as long as possible, particularly when they believe their intentions and hearts are in the right place. Well, that’s why we have what we have. It is why crime grows worse. It is why the economy falters undiversified. It is why our human achievement and quality of life index continue to plummet.
We’ve allowed ineffective leaders to lead ineffectively for too long. Were they anywhere in an advanced nation, they would be gone from their rank and file long ago.
It is time for you leaders, who are begging for the people’s respect after decades of ineffective leadership, to go. Then maybe, just maybe, we will see the changes we need to see in this country.
And, by the way, amidst all this talk of respect at the Emancipation Day church service, where were all your neck ties? Wasn’t that once a sign of respect in a church?
Personally, I could care less what is or isn’t worn in church, but for all of you government ministers to wear no neck ties in church while talking about signs of respect suggests to me that you think that sign of respect is no longer relevant.
And we feel the same about your pomp and pageantry.
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