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JEFF BROOMES: ‘All o’ we is one’, yuh hear


JEFF BROOMES: ‘All o’ we is one’, yuh hear

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“ALL O’ WE IS ONE!” is an absurd incongruity that nurtures negativity. Unfortunately, this slogan has become an excuse for the lowering of standards, the upholding of slackness and a pretext to criticise genuine achievers and leaders. Enshrined in this slogan is a cloak-with-hoody-at-midnight attitude that devalues the importance of accountability, vision, innovation and exploration.

As I walked away from church last Sunday, engaged in a light-hearted conversation with a friend, I was taken with the plain speaking of a former politician who took me into the realm of the “all o’ we is one” syndrome that unfortunately pervades significant areas of our society.

In recent times this has become a rallying refrain, presumably to promote professed camaraderie and assumed brotherhood, in whatever form. Persons of all age groups and professions have adopted the catchphrase with damaging effect.  

It’s a rallying cry for citizens, races, genders, professions and certainly emerging social groups to be found “together”.

Here are three examples: We speak badly and dress worse! We attempt to stop the trend and these naysayers sob: “We is (are) Bajans and this is how we does speak and dress. Stop pretending you are better than the rest of us.” Suddenly our valued and time-honoured guiding codes are subjected to an “all o’ we is one” dose.

The authorities, either legal or positional, object and take appropriate action for conformity, but the slogan is thrown up: “Give the man a break. He is just a li’l small man trying to get true (through).  You forget where you come from. You now feel higher up and better off.” Respect and fair play must be pushed aside because “all o’ we is one”!

In professional careers, change is introduced to improve outcomes. Criticisms are changed and defences raised, because comfort zones are disturbed and challenges are brought to the fore to be overcome if better is to be realised. Thinking stops and the slogan is shouted. Intellectual laziness and disingenuous actions uphold the “all o’ we is one” focus.

Groups scream that “all o’ we is one” so we must blindly stick together and support the partner, colleague or friend. There must be no respect for the profession or its goals and objectives. We need you for our survival so we will support you whether you are right or wrong. The demonstration effect is clear to impressionable minds and all standards head the way of decline.

The desire for shortcuts to success disrespects established rules and regulations and undermines others. Impatience is often the enemy of values.

Our maturity, commitment, integrity and honesty distinguish us and give the lie to the mindless “all o’ we is one” slogan.

We must also accept that if we cannot respect the standards that define our area of operation we should change course and find something else to do or somewhere else to go.

As we develop as groups, as families, as colleagues and as friends, ethics and principles should never be sacrificed. If something is wrong, it remains wrong irrespective of who is the perpetrator.

So why do we fall so easily in line and protect others with the “all of we is one” saying?

The closer one looks, we see the influence of political hugging, an extension of the notion of party paramountcy. You scratch my back and I will cream your skin, because “all o’ we is one!” This mindset unfortunately informs some major decisions, and the country is the loser.

Our leaders must meet challenges, articulate a vision and work towards a resolution. The answers are not realised overnight and criticisms are given multiple births. Our leaders are crucified because they dare to do something differently from the norm; they dare to have a long-term strategic focus that is structured to correct the obvious ills.  They are projected as anti everyone and, seeing that “all o’ we is one,” they must be the enemy, dedicated to hurting and even destroying us.

Let us all be one, but not to be defined by ever-changing goalposts.

Consistency, integrity and sincerity provide a large and strong tent under which all of us can indeed be one!

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also serves as vice-president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]