Ladies and gentlemen good afternoon.
As I watched the young men and women march, my hope for our country resurged. Despite the difficulties we presently share with the rest of the world, we must recognise that we are a nation which has been blessed with a rich heritage, abundant resources, and the prospect of a bright future.
Aristotle wrote that:
“No man goes about a more godly purpose than he who is mindful of the right upbringing not only of his own, but of the other man’s children.”
I suspect the Rev’d Joseph William Graham shared the same thought when, in 1910, he expressed his confidence in the future of our nation by establishing the Scout Association which has instilled in countless numbers of our promising youth, the values and principles that will assist in strengthening and advancing their own life and the nation.
The institution has become synonymous with skills training, the inculcation of positive habits and adventure. Since 1925 our scouts have been ambassadors, showing to the world the holistic knowledge of Jamaica and the skill sets we possess, not only in, but outside the classroom as well.
I note that in 2010 despite the challenges that the Association encountered you successfully hosted the Centenary Jamboree in St. Elizabeth even attracting overseas attendance. You also successfully hosted the Caribbean Jamboree in Portland, in 2006, with thirteen (13) countries attending.
There are some important habits which our young people need to develop which are inculcated in this Association: habits of punctuality, diligence, truthfulness, honour, patience, integrity and service. We need to protect, nurture, socialize and train them to make worthwhile contributions to nation building and become valuable citizens.Indeed, the chief cornerstone of our society, ‘the pillar on which the nation rests’, is our youth.
Our youth are threatened by the moral decadence of our contemporary society even as many individuals have resigned to look the other way, to point at it from afar or to defer action. Each of us however must be part of the village that protects and moulds our future. To inoculate our youth from moral and spiritual ills we must engage them, be positive enablers and show them how to live for a purpose.
I believethat each of us in attendance and individuals in the wider society must have faith that our young people will not betray the values of fairness, morality and justice that we instil in them. Within the contemporary experiences of our nation you young men and women must understand your role in our society. You cannot allow yourselves to be marginalized and wither away like the seed that falls on dry ground, but you should become innovators, solution builders, visionaries, moral and spiritual trustees.
I challenge you the youth of our nation to be selfless and patriotic. Give service to your school, your community, your church your clubs and other groups. Give service to your country for this is the highest honour. Encourage members of your family, your friends and your neighbours to volunteer. Take them along with you to your Associations, your clubs and groups. Never be satisfied with mediocrity, instead chart a course to achieve what is possible. I call to mind young Barrington Irving who at 23 years of age set out to do the impossible and created history by flying around the world alone.
Young men and women there are no boundaries to your possibilities; so dream big, work hard and be assured that the promise in your eyes and the courage in your shoes are the lessons of yesterday, the confidence of today and assurance of tomorrow. I believe that each of us is placed here by our Creator to enhance the quality of life of those around us.
Conclusion and Encouragement
To the dedicated Scout leaders and Commissioners who will be acknowledged this evening I encourage you “not to be weary in well-doing.” One day you will see the results and you will be satisfied.
The conditions that pervade Jamaican life scream at us to call on the creative genius of well thinking Jamaicans in all sectors in the country:
· Public sector
· Private sector
· Churches, to strengthen our resolve, refocus our energies and sustain our efforts in defense of our nation.
I encourage the Scout Association to continue effecting your mandate, for there are many more youth to reach, many more lives to impact and many more milestones to achieve. You have completed a century and you are beginning another. All that is left for me to say is Quick march!