There once was a time when a National Award, from the Jamaican Government, meant something,, in that it was a recognition of one’s work and contribution, usually to national-building, and or an acknowledgment of excellence in one’s field.
Sadly, that was once upon a time, and very long ago. Today, those Awards, have lost their value, devalued by the Andrew Holness administration, which has been handing out those once-treasured awards, as if they were confetti.
How did we get here?
Well, it seems, that those entrusted with the task of evaluating worthy awardees, have short-circuited the process, and instead of rewarding the worthy, have reduced the once prestigious honour and occasion (Heroes Day), to nothing more than a parade for the unworthy; the awards being given, not of any consequence, as the population at large, no longer sees or regard the award as an acknowledgment of achievement, but see it as a reward for partisan operatives; a trinket for the political donors; and or worse – baubles to decorate the breastplate of unscrupulous politicians, who somehow, end up with the title Honourable, or Most Honourable, but are anything but!
The growing ranks of the undeserved but yet Honored, recipients, speaks to the post honour and integrity society,, we are now forced to live in, as occasioned by our shameless politicians, who not only bestow upon themselves National Honours but are willing to bestow same on their undeserving friends if the Political Donation is right!
And then there are those supposedly upstanding citizens, who not only campaign for these awards, but do so incessantly, as the first is never enough, so after the first National Award for zero contribution, the recipient then goes on a campaign, for an “Upgrade”, to keep up with one’s colleagues and or professional competitor,, as if the awards were a symbol of one-upmanship, complete with bragging rights and all.
A sign of the devaluation of the National Awards is that in recent years, a number of the recipients have been total strangers to the Jamaican people, and we are not talking about honorariums presented to Foreigners either. We are talking about people who are supposedly Jamaicans but are not known by the Jamaican people, and whose supposed Contribution, that would have made them eligible, remains a deep mystery, to all, except those who bestow the awards.
But the ego, greed, sense of entitlement and absence of pathos in these recipients, know no bounds, and they not only shamelessly accept awards they have not earned, but trot them out for ceremonial occasions, and some even have the temerity, to publicly acknowledge these Awards by hosting some event or another, to ‘Thank” those who bestowed them with their dubious honour.
If only we could go back to that place, where Decency, was a Thing. Honour, not measured by the size of one’s donation to a politician, or one’s supposed friendship, then maybe these Awards, would once again, be taken seriously.
But to be sure, not everyone who is named as a recipient, is necessarily a fraudulent imposter, posing as a character of integrity, who has genuinely bearded the reward being offered, as some, really are true benefactors, , as their body of work, speaks to their accomplishments, charity and or bravery, as the reason for being singled out for elevation.
As there are genuine Contributors in the population, whose acts of heroism, bravery, sacrifice, charity, mentorship, dedication and service, make them worthy, recipients. It is those who bespoil their contribution, with their effrontery, we seek to identify, isolate and or put on notice, that we the people, are wise to their shenanigans, and we do not see them and or regard them as being worthy of the title and Honour they shamelessly usurp, in their quest to buttress their own sense of self-importance.
Now, as the Government and Society bemoan the breakdown of discipline, decency, and good order, in the society, it cannot be seen to be contributing to the lawlessness it bemoans, so it behooves the Government, to be seen by the Governed, to be doing the right thing. And a good place to start is by putting back the honour, dignity, and prestige, into the National Honours, by only dispensing the same, to the deserving.
Now, if it wishes to ‘Honour’ its political donors, friends, and colleagues, it can do so, with a Prime Ministerial Medal or some other kind of tokenism, But it cannot continue to cheapen the National Awards, and expect the Population to regard them with any sincerity as symbols of integrity!