For the past four years I have had the privilege of editing Public Opinion, easily the best local electronic periodical offering thought leadership to Jamaica.
It seems like it was only yesterday that distinguished attorney Walter Scott, QC, explained his vision as founder of this online publication at the March 17, 2017 launch, along with General Manager Dorothy Whyte, and Managing Director Astrid Scott-Beckford at Alhambra Inn in St Andrew.
Since then, the publication has thrived, providing readers here and abroad with thought-provoking and incisive commentary that, we hope, is helping them to make informed decisions in their lives. That, we hold, is essential to the preservation of our democracy.
Our columnists, I find, are never afraid to tackle any issue, be it slavery; racism; politics, both here and abroad; gender bias; constitutional matters; or sports administration, to name just a few. And at the mention of sports, we are blessed to have The Terrible Tout, one of this country’s foremost authorities on horse racing, as a columnist.
As we observe another Christmas Day, in common with Christians across the globe who hold this day sacred for its message of peace and goodwill to all mankind, we can’t help but reflect on the past two years which, without doubt, have been extremely difficult and painful.
The ravages of the novel coronavirus pandemic have left many people broken, as they have lost family and friends. Additionally, the effects of COVID-19 have shattered economies across the globe, resulting in job losses and the collapse of some businesses.
Locally, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported in June this year that the economy contracted by an estimated 5.7 per cent in the January to March 2021 quarter, largely due to the impact of the pandemic.
However, the PIOJ told us that “the contraction in the economy was partially tempered by a relatively strong increase in construction activities as well as increased capacity utilisation in the mining and quarrying industry, following the cycling out of the impact of the closure of the Alpart refinery, which caused a drag on growth during the first nine months of 2020”.
Amid the disappointment though, there have been some bright moments, especially at this time of year when the milk of human kindness flows, as seen by the stories of people giving to the less fortunate, the elderly, and to children.
Indeed, there’s no shortage of goodwill in Jamaica, and to those who are extending a kind hand to others, we at Public Opinion say well done. Because, if that show of compassion changes the life of even one person for the better, it would have been worth the effort.
There’s no denying the difficulties we face. At the same time, we cannot lose hope as we are all duty bound to create a society that future generations will be proud to call their own.
So, as we prepare to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our independence next year, we need to give strict focus to achieving the goals of the Vision 2030 document, namely the creation of a country with “a healthy and stable population, world-class education and training, effective social protection, authentic and transformational culture, security and safety, effective governance, a stable macro-economy, and an enabling business environment”.
It will take a lot of hard work, but the Jamaican people are resilient, and will achieve those ideals if they have trust and confidence in the country’s leaders.
May you all have a safe, blessed and peaceful holiday, and let us face the new year with a determination to make mankind better.