A pleasant morning,

Kindly accept warm greetings and best wishes for a happy new year from Lady and myself, and allow me to convey Lady’s apology for absence at this morning’s function. 

The role of the patron on this high morning  is firstly to thank you for supporting and attending this prayer breakfast, which propels us into the new year, and  secondly, to commend the organizers, sponsors and individuals who are involved in the execution of this remarkable experience. For over three decades, under three different Patrons, and the same sponsor: The Victoria Mutual Building Society, and an indefatigable group of leaders, drawn from the religious community, have worked quietly and effectively to assemble us every third Thursday of January to petition our Sovereign God for mercy and grace on this nation, for wisdom to its leaders and peace for all.What I like about this group is that it recognizes that leaders are not perfect, so rather than condemning and berating them in the public space for perceived failings, they instead publicly pray for leaders. 

This is a model that can be emulated by all citizens of Jamaica, and in all sectors.

In the brief time allotted to me, kindly allow me to observe that so often when we speak of leaders in this nation, there is the misconception that the references are primarily for political leaders. I hasten to say that the scope of understanding should be broadened, to reflect everyone who leads out in the public and private sectors, the church and the Judiciary, the security forces and most critically the media, medical, educational institutions and the family, among others.

I can tell you right off the bat, and there are leaders here not only in National Security, but certainly in every area of national life, who know that there is no better way to improve our effectiveness than to reflect and seek ‘Divine intervention’. I encourage you not to be daunted by skepticism, but aim to have habitual moments of prayerful reflection backed by pure intentions. The outcome of your reflection may not be instant, but you can take comfort in the words of clergyman William Gurnall, that “some prayers have a longer voyage than others!”

The theme of this year’s Breakfast, Righteousness Exhalts the Nation, is a call to all of us to remember that leaders are to be a moral compass for the nation, as there is not a time when we are not under immense scrutiny and our mettle is being tested in the court of public opinion. Sometimes in the process, undeservedly so, characters are scarred and tarnished, which an apology long after, in fine print, or a parenthetical statement, cannot atone for the damage already done.  

Some leaders should not be fair game, for criticism, even by other leaders who attract some levels of anonymity by virtue of the shade under which they rest. We must all be gracious even when we are critical, and recognize that as actors on the stage of life we are all being judged. Therefore we have the responsibility to leave emulative footprints for the generation that will follow.  

As leaders, in every sector, foremost in our minds and in our action must be the imperative that we are the vanguards in nation building. National growth is not only evident in economic indices; but in the values we inculcate and transmit and the attitudes we display. These values and attitudes should convey a pattern of commitment and love for our people. We must make it our duty to prevent the decadence that will inevitably occur if we do not genuinely respect and care for each other make efforts to improve relationships.  

It was King Louis XVth  of France who declared at a difficult time for their country Apres moi le deluge (after me is the deluge).  This type of fear for the future must never grip our mind! Instead, let the hope of a brighter Jamaica ever shine in your heart. No matter the difficult time we are going through, keep alive the optimism of our founding fathers; which optimism of our founding fathers which was so brilliantly expressed in poetry by the famous JC old boy, M.G. Smith, and put to music by Mappletoft Poulle: “I saw my land in the morning and oh but she was fair, the hills, the hills flamed upward scorning death and failure here.  

I saw through the mists of morning,  a wave like a sea set free; faith to the dawn returning, dark tide bright unity” and he ended with the solemn warning and imperative to us, “build now! while time is burning, forward before it’s late.”

In conclusion let me say to each one of you here this morning, in a special way I want to express my appreciation to all our leaders who toil to give direction, to model and mentor; to hold the fort even when they feel like giving in.  When your work is not recognized nor affirmed you continue to press against the surging tides; keep the fence from being breached; identify the gaps and weak areas and strengthen what remains.

For in the end whether or not you or your work is celebrated, you would still have the settled satisfaction that you did your best for God and country.

Again, thank you NPLB for your exemplary leadership; thank you VMBS for your unfailing sponsorship and to everyone for giving to this worth cause, the Eira Schader Home for the Aged.

 God bless you and God bless Jamaica, land we love.