The past week had two significant events viz. The Masters Golf Championship at Augusta, Georgia; and the ruling of our Court against the NIDS legislation. The two may seem to have no relationship to each other and certain principles.
Firstly, congratulations to the great Tiger Woods who has returned to win a Major against all odds, both emotional and physical. This is a remarkable achievement for anyone. He is second only to the great Jack “Golden Bear” Nicklaus on the all-time list of major winners.
It is a well-deserved victory, but it ignores the contribution of those who paved the way for him. No one probably remembers Calvin Peete, Jim Dent, Lee Elder, and Charlie Sifford. I have had the privilege of playing golf with Dent, Elder and Sifford and they supported the Jamaica Golf Association by appearing in the Jamaica Open during the mid to late 1980s.
In particular, starting with Charlie Sifford, the dues were paid in the 1950s and 1960s by having to change clothes in the parking lost as “negroes were not permitted in the clubhouse” unless they were service staff. This in the same great State of Georgia which hosted the Masters last weekend, and most other states. Black servants and spectators watched from behind the scenes in admiration of this important step forward for the black man in the world of the white “upper-class” American of those days.
Last weekend it was instructive to view the spectators and not see the black faces that were there to support Tiger in his heydays whether they played golf or not. I really looked but did not spot any. I asked myself two questions: was Tiger just another easily forgotten hero; or can’t we remain focused on a prize that takes longer than instant gratification.
Where were the black heroes of other sports like baseball, boxing, basketball, athletics, and so many others who should have been there in their numbers to celebrate with the Tiger? Where were the Jamaicans who used to fly out to these big tournaments 20 years ago whenever Tiger played? So sad, but this is Jamaica. Congratulations, Tiger Woods.
In the second issue, the ruling by the Constitutional Court against the rushed NIDS legislation must be a sign that the rule of law is taking a new step forward, and the Chief Justice and the Honourable Justices of the Court must be lauded for sticking to their remit without fear or favour. It is unfortunate that such an important matter should have had to be led by the loyal Opposition. This lays the way open to political one-upmanship and may spark the usual uninformed political diatribes.
The many citizens groups that are now vocal (including the churches) should have put their combined resources together in such a way as to indicate this righteous indignation before the bill was railroaded through Parliament. I am unable or unwilling to believe that this misconceived law was devised by Jamaicans against the rights of other Jamaicans.
Consider the following hypothetical arguments. Assume that the organizations of civil society really believed that the law was unjust, and the Constitutional Court then ruled it legal (perhaps through the use of unlawful influence), would they meekly lap their tails between their legs and shut up? The argument is somewhat like a test of conviction between good and evil, as we don’t seem to support rule by decree in some other countries.
If we can’t stand up for what we know to be right on our own volition, then I understand the view of those who are holding out for the Privy Council as the final jurisdiction.
I am firmly convinced that the “unseen hand” of foreign intervention is present in this misadventure. If I am correct then there lies a greater threat to our concept of “Sovereignty” than we make CARICOM out to be. The ruling proves that to fail to stand up for rights in our own country leaves us likened to having to “change our clothes in the parking lot”.
Bob Marley suggested: “get up stand up, stand up for your rights”, that means before the real champions have won. Citizenship is not a spectator sport on television.
So next time it is Tiger Woods or human rights, skip all racial or political bias and make the choice to speak out and support what is right.
I extend my sympathy to the people of France on the destruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral by fire. This medieval edifice was built by thousands of masons and skilled craftsmen from across Europe between 1160 and 1260. Other than its purely religious appeal, 30,000 visitors came each day to view its splendor, and admire the craftsmanship of its builders. Many in the 20th century came to see the Hollywood movie place of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, or may have read the book by Hugo (1831) that inspired that movie.
This week is of supreme importance to Christians around the world. During this week we note the death of Jesus as well as His resurrection, and the conjoint events form the basis of the Christian faith. We can only pray that many will be inspired to embrace the resurrection of this important cathedral. Such action could only inspire a new way forward for France, and the Roman Catholic Church that has recently been the subject of controversies across the world.