A collaborative spirit must be forged between public citizens and Parliament so that together, we can look at the numerous challenges that confront us, says Dominic Damian.
If Parliament is deemed as just a legislative body, then its scope is constrained by the limitations of legalities. Parliament must transform itself so that it reflects the aspirations and inspirational ideals of society.
The contest to secure the best results if limited by the boundaries of party ideologies or egoistic debates would suggest that any freedom won would be limited to serve the needs of power.
But if voting on crucial matters is based on a commitment dictated by individual conscience, cutting across the political divide, then democracy is more than alive. Decency prevails too.
The nature of human life is to seek improvement. The birth of ideals springs from pure thought. It is the consequence of advancement – without having to be subject to accusations that one is being treasonous because of disagreements in pursuit of the greater good. It reflect the development of political maturity.
The realm of politics and humanistic aspirations need to be a chasm. They can converge in a mutually advantageous and respectful collaboration – a a relationship of unyielding equality.
Parliamentarians must be empowered and open to the possibility of soul- searching – probing their conscience and prioritising what is life-changing. They must relentlessly reflect on the what, why, when, where, which, who and how?
Parliament should never submit to the ordinary but strive to meet the people’s aspirations and lessen their suffering. In a world of social challenges and inequalities, greatness for a nation can be achieved with the simple realisation that:
- if one lonely life remains without purpose and meaning among us, we need to offer a path.
- if one prisoner is held captive without rehabilitation, we need to reform the prison.
- if one criminal languishes without hope or is about to be executed based on retributive justice, without a chance for rehabilitation, we need to show that the country’s honour is won in according the best treatment to the worst offender.
- if one hungry child or family lives amidst us, we need to share and build food banks to support them.
- if one homeless person lives in despair (with so many more empty homes around), we need to get him or her off the streets.
- if one person is in need, show him or her kindness as one would a brother or sister.
- if one differently enabled person is excluded or a transgender discriminated against, remove the social stigma and dignify their existence with rights.
- if one civil servant is intimidated or threatened with any form of punitive action because of his or her conscientious objections to wrongdoing, that person must be accorded inviolable protection of job security against the highest powers of the land.
- if one stone of hate is thrown at a person because of his or her race or ethnicity, enact laws that prohibit such an evil.
- if there is just one person wounded by insensitive rage and anger and divisive arguments, educate religious leaders on the beautiful gems of diversity in each faith.
- if one tortured soul is seeking death without reason instead of celebrating life, throw him or her a lifeline of hope.
- if one child is dumped, killed or abandoned and a very young mother is castigated and jailed, heal and restore life and show mercy.
- if one act of senseless lock-up death ioccurs, upgrade the investigative approach and prevent this tragedy with a CCTV system and a discipline protocol that ensures accountability.
- if one law enforcement officer fires his weapon in anger (and not for the protection or prevention of injury or loss of life), institute a disciplined training program on human rights.
- if one refugee lives without rights among us, expunge this shame by offering them employment, education, healthcare and social rights.
- if one person is consumed by the divisions of politics, evaluate the approach and remove contentious mindsets that create disunity.
- if one person remains unhealed and dies in anguish without a doctor, without the best possible medical care, allocate a budget that supports patients, especially those who are terminally ill
- if one doctor is serving in poor condtions, improve his working environment and provide dignified remuneration.
- if one tree is missing a forest, or one river is without water, or one hill is exposed and naked, or our sea is without fish and our animals killed needlessly, accord protection to life and the environment.
- if one person has special needs or suffers from mental health and is forgotten, treasure their lives with dignified-living care facilities.
- if one child lives unloved and unwanted without a book or if one child is in fear of insecurity without carefree laughter or a playground, invest in him or her with sensitivity.
- if one writer or journalist is stripped of his or her ability to write the truth, empower and embolden him or her to live without fear.
- if one artist is without a palette, brush or colour, if one singer lives without a song, or one dancer without a stage, or one poet in a gutter without a page, make a home for those who feed the soul and nurture the heart.
- if one judge dispenses justice with condemnation without compassion or mercy, appoint not a mechanic of the law but the one who sees as a parent would, with the eye of a soul.
- if one mother is engulfed with sorrow because her child is rejected, for reasons of race or religion or lack of funds, for admission to higher education, pursue the path of equality.
- if one widow is broken by the passing of her partner, accord her protection and privileges that mitigate her sorrow.
- if one orphan is growing inconsolably alone without tenderness, connect the orphan with a family.
- if one senior citizen is abandoned, make provisions to accept them into government homes.
- if one field is empty without a farmer or a plough or a boat is without a fisherman or a net, lend these ancient professions the honour and dignity of a wage and standard that is second to none.
- if one indigenous original inhabitant is deprived of land and is seen as a culture to be extinguished, embrace them as hidden wealth that must never be forsaken.
- if one teacher exists without a passion for their work,bond them with inspirational teachers who will inspire them.
- if one person lives in poverty and turns to petty theft, do not incarcerate him or her but provide the person with a reason not to go further down that path. Work to bridge social inequalities.
- if one youth lives without protesting for a cause for fear of being expelled or jailed, empower them with laws that give them freedom – for academic life involves the growth of conscience, the pushing of boundaries in search of meaning in life.
- if one feels the wind no more and sees no stars, moon, sky or sun as the haze has polluted the land, protect the environment as one would a parent.
Are these not reasons for parliamentarians to look beyond the trappings of well sculptured words? What is captured above are the minuscule layers of misery in life.
There is so much each of us can do to heal a nation that cries with sorrow instead of wasting our time on the trivialities of dogmas. Our time can be used in a far more purposeful manner.
With all this misery in society, it may seem we have little reason to celebrate. Even when we are consumed by the greatest of joys we must never forget to immerse our lives in the sorrow of those around us so that we can uplift them.
Parliament and the supporting institutions must never be glorified nor individual parliamentarians worshiped. Instead, a collaborative and celebratory spirit must be forged between public citizens and Parliament so that together, we can look at the numerous challenges that confront us.
Healing the pain in society is our shared responsibility. We must always strive and struggle for the dignity and nobility of a higher thought, a higher cause, unattainable as it may seem. With unyielding courage, we should climb together and uplift one another as fellow human beings.