The Myth of Homogeneity in Political Parties

I ‘ve come to realize that while Jamaica has a first past the post electoral system that has long favoured the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party, we continue to make the mistake that each party is homogeneous.

We also continue to pretend that if someone supports one party over the other, it means such a person supports everyone in the party and all the philosophies, actions and utterances of everyone in the party.

But that’s not how it works in real life.

If we think about the parties as families, I think maybe we can understand and appreciate that diversity exists within our political parties.

Think about your own family. Do you support all the philosophies, actions and utterances of every first, second, or third cousin? What about the philosophies and actions of all your aunts, brothers, sisters, uncles, granduncles, or even your parents? But they are still your family. And you still call them family without supporting everything they do or aligning yourself with everything they believe.

And yes, I know we are born into our families, but in a lot of ways we choose to remain in them. We choose to identify with the people in our family, and we don’t hide our relations with our family members (well, most of us don’t). That is why they have the power to disappoint us and the power to make us proud.

And what about our inner circle of friends (for those who have such a thing)? Do we support all the philosophies and actions and utterances of all our friends and all the people who are close to us?

If not, why then can’t we extend that to people who are members of, or supporters of one political party over another? Why can’t Ricardo Brooks, for example be ‘allowed’ to support the JLP even as he is critical of some of the party’s philosophies, or the actions and utterances of some of its members and supporters? Why can’t Jaevion Nelson do the same as a supporter of the PNP?

The political parties have human beings in them. And they all have their diverse views. There is no real homogeneity in any of them. And that is perfectly okay. Plus we need to be realistic, sometimes when people support a political party, they’re probably just supporting one group in the party or a few people in the party whose philosophies, ideas, utterances a and actions are more often than not closely aligned with their own.

So when someone says they are a labourite or a comrade, that doesn’t mean they blindly support all labourites and all comrades. It may mean they have a preference for the JLP or the PNP for some very specific reasons.

Some people may blindly support one party or the other, and that’s their prerogative; they are the ones who will defend their parties ad nauseuam and even to personal detriment. But I would be surprised if those are the types supporters who make up the majority of party supporters on both sides. I’d be very surprised. Not even the leadership corps in the parties blindly support everything that is done or uttered by party stalwarts.

It is my hope that as a society (who loves political commentary) we give people room to identify with a political party without maligning them because of the disagreeable actions or utterances of others in the party.

We say we want people to think critically and independently. We say we want ‘better’ leaders in politics. Let us give people that room, and perhaps we will, after all, have ‘better’ leaders in politics.

Let us not be slaves to collective responsibility.

‘Waging War’

Goal-8

Sustainable Development Goal 8. Photo credit: Corporate Citizenship

There is a ‘waging war’ on Twitter about employees who seem to have a ‘bad’ attitude towards their work and the cause possibly being an unkind work environment and not being paid well. I tweeted the following in response:

If you are an employer, create an environment that allows your employees to work with dignity and live with dignity.
If you are an employee, create a consciousness that allows you to work with dignity and live with dignity.

After sharing the tweets I began to think a bit more about this ‘waging war’ and why it seems we have a problem on our hands that may exist for a painstakingly long time. I proceeded to thread some #wagenwar tweets later on, ahead of a planned Twitter chat about the issue to be moderated (or refereed) by WE-Change at 6:00PM today (October 21, 207).

See thread below.

When we ask employers to pay well, we have to recognise that there is no one standard for being paid well. Even if we look at the ‘going rate’ for renumeration for a post, we will always notice a scale – and sometimes it’s a wide scale.

We also have to be careful how we broadbrush employers. We often don’t think about poor employers. Poor employers sometimes have to struggle to make ends meet. Poor employers sometimes can’t pay well, and that’s part of the reason I support things like a Guaranteed Minimum Income to be paid by the state.

We also need to recognize that we have to do a better job at educating our people about their rights and responsibilities as employees. And we have to do a better job at educating people about their rights and responsibilities as employers.

We cannot expect that businesses will thrive in 2017 and beyond if employers don’t treat employees with dignity. We cannot expect that businesses will thrive in 2017 and beyond if employees don’t work with dignity and live with dignity.

The world is different. Very different. And millenials and those older than them have more informed expectations at work. I’m not talking about millenials who are lazy. I am not talking about other generations of lazy people. I am talking about people who work and work well.

If you hire someone and discover they are lazy, you run interventions with them and if they are still underperforming, let them go. When people work and work well, we need to ensure we sustain a healthy work environment for them, and that also includes paying them as well as we can.

I find that because we romanticize struggle as older people, we like to think that struggle must be a part of people’s lived realities. Struggle does not need to be a part of our realities. It just happens to be a part of many of our realities.

But we shouldn’t romanticize struggle.

We equally shouldn’t romanticize luxury. We need to learn to live within our means and practice frugality.

If you are not paid well, why would you buy a Samsung Note 8, when you can only afford a Samsung Note 4, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you attend Sunrise Breakfast Party instead of I Love Soca, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you play Mas with Frenchmen and not FameFM, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you have lunch at Burger King and not at Juici Patties, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you by a Meal Deal at KFC and not a Chicken Box, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you buy a Honda and not a Toyota, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you buy Grace food products and not Lasco food products, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you rent a J$30,000 apartment and not a J$15,000 apartment, then complain?

If you are not paid well, why would you buy new clothes monthly and not quarterly or annually, then complain?

If the job you currently have, does not afford certain luxuries, don’t attempt to live in luxury. Attempting to live in luxury on a small cheque will serve to frustrate you and negatively affect your job performance.

If you believe you are worth more than what you are being paid, talk with your employer. If your employer is not willing or able to pay more, talk about some benefits, and talk about lessening your work hours – you can get a part time job elsewhere.

And if you work in an environment where you feel powerless as an employee, and you can’t talk with your employer, consider additional employment. You can also be creative and make the work environment one that enables you and your colleagues to work with dignity until you can leave.

Employees and employers have a role to play.

Employers cannot continue to think that it is okay to milk every last effort out of employees, yet they are not willing to milk every last dollar to pay said employees well.

Employers must recognize that while profit is their aim, it can’t just be monetary profit to line their pockets.

Employers must be creative and considerate and ensure that all their employees feel valued and worthy.

Employers must ensure that the work environment they create fosters growth and considers employees’ welfare.

Employers must recognize that an unhealthy employee cannot function at their best. And that if employees don’t feel valued and appreciated it may affect their brand and bottomline.

Employers must recognize that employees spend about 1/3 of their entire day in the work environment, so it needs to feel like an extended family.

Employers need to recognize that their best ambassadors are satisfied and appreciated employees, who will speak highly of them if they treat their workers with dignity.

Sometimes employees just want to know that their employer cares.

And before I wrap up this thread, I will say to employees who work for businesses that are listed on the stock market – buy shares into the company. Sometimes, as a poorly paid employee at a listed company you would be surprised at how much you can earn by buying into the same company that doesn’t pay you well.

I think employees and employers can, and must do better. And I hope I live to see the day when we all will.

We need to create a culture and consciousness of dignity in the workplace.

The Unsilencing & Inspiration of ‘Me Too’

I’ve been reading many tweets, Facebook posts and articles about ‘me too’. The number of people using those five letters is a reminder of how pervasive sexual violence is in communities around the world, in communities across the Caribbean, and in communities at home – Jamaica.

Survivors are talking.

Silencing – one of the features of rape culture is slowly becoming a thing of the past. I also notice that as more survivors speak and challenge the status quo of silence, the shaming is being reduced – I see many compassionate responses to those who have decided that they won’t be silenced anymore. And the blaming – the third feature of rape culture isn’t a feature in many of the responses I’ve seen to ‘me too’. I’ve realised that some survivors have gone a step further – they are naming perpetrators; they are casting the blame where it belongs, and they are shaming those who ought to be shamed.

I know it will take much more to rid the society of this nasty life-ruining culture of sexual violence, but I am hopeful. It may take several shockwaves at different points in our history to experience the change that we need, but that’s no reason to give up, at least not in the ways I have, because I was wrong about many women who used to inspire me – women I thought would defend, ad infinitum, survivors and their right to a life free from sexual violence and their right to justice.

It’s going to take a revolution, and the revolution may happen in stages and with bold actions; movements may sometimes seem disjointed, but the revolution will happen — I feel it in my bones. I know one day when I don’t feel so defeated and remember all the supportive voices around me, the fire that is needed to be a part of the revolution will once again be set ablaze in me.

For now, I am watching the fire ablaze in many of you, and I am watching with humility and hope. And I hope that for every woman, for every person who said ‘me too’, there is a sea of people available to support because the ‘unsilencing’ is the beginning. For change to become our new reality, healing must take centre stage, and we must not give up on our ailing justice system. We must make it better, generations of young women and young men need our advocacy now. We need to do what we must to ensure that justice is possible for all of us.

For a while there I thought the status quo had won, I thought we had failed, especially those girls who we promised we would fight with and for, but I see hope and a brighter future and I am feeling inspired again. I am feeling inspired today.