Quite frankly, it is very disappointing to me that the ancient behaviours associated with honour seem to have disappeared from our vocabulary. The principles associated with “doing the right thing” seem to have become subsidiary to the exigencies of a rapidly deteriorating society. In fact, we are at the very cusp of a society with no values, and our new word of common usage “respect” has become an all-inclusive answer without meaning.
“Good morning, how are you?” begets me an answer of “Respect, Daddy”. This in no way reassures me that the next interaction will not be a gunshot. If I do happen to be shot, how do I reconcile that with “respect”? It does not return my greeting, nor does it convey an interest in my well-being. It is an amorphous sound that really fails to further a social interchange. This is a new direction but not a path that is leading anywhere and cannot replace the understanding of honour.
In ancient Japan, the Bushido Code of the Samurai embraces some eight virtues: Rectitude or Justice; Courage; Benevolence or Mercy; Politeness; Honesty and Sincerity; Honour; Loyalty; Character; and Self-control. Yet, despite our attraction to watching endless “Kickers” movies the moral worth seems to elude us.
Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts, a notorious Welsh pirate 1672-1722, had eleven rules or by-laws that were enforced for the smooth running of his ship. Henry Morgan had five by-laws but these were more related to division of spoils, and workmen compensation for “on the job injuries” and this latter still exists in some form in our labour laws and contracts. It is important to note that the latter of these two scoundrels was rewarded with a Knighthood and a Governorship (possibly for wicked and brutal service to the British monarchy).
The Knights Templar, other monks, and chivalric orders also developed their own codes and all seemed to value honour. The Code of Hammurabi 1755-1760 B.C. has influenced many laws over 3,000 years across the world. Finally, let us not forget the significance of the Ten Commandments on the development of orderly societies.
Let us fast-forward to our own time and think of whether we still have honour.
Mabey and Johnson (a British contractor) pleaded guilty to bribing officials in Jamaica and two other countries in a British Court. Five of eight directors of the company resigned and the company faced hefty charges.
In the 1950s two ministers of Government were charged and convicted viz. Joe Z. Malcolm, and his successor L.L. Simmonds. In the 1960s Minister of State Dr. Arthur Burt fled the island to avoid a Commission of Inquiry and possible legal charges. 1990 JAG Smith, Minister of Labour, was found guilty and received five years at hard labour. Currently it is reported that some legal actions are underway regarding Ruel Reid.
I pause to note that this list may not be exhaustive, but all apply to people designated as “Hon.” Trafigura will not lead to local arrests unless it falls under POCA Law, but four of the five called to testify are “Hon.” The PNP says the money was returned to Trafigura, but the “gifts” of US$5m to the JLP and US$3m to the PNP from Olint will not be returned, so we sink further into the pit of the dishonourable.
Finally, the uproar from the public and within Parliament seems to be so loud that at least a resignation should come as an “Honourable” way of stepping aside to allow for a full investigation. Known persons were taken to receive medical treatment; doctors are required to report evidence of suspected violence/abuse, so what is the problem?
A Senator has reported another crime, and so why doesn’t she reveal the evidence? In other jurisdictions withholding information relative to a crime is a felony. But I am not the lawyer, the Senator is! Violence, whether domestic or external, must be considered a crime and treated accordingly. Sweeping things under a carpet is a nasty method of housekeeping.
So those who debate and pass laws, please see that they are enforced. Dirty laundry needs to be properly cleaned, and those in Parliament “like Caesar’s wife” must be above reproach. Please do the right things.