18 December 2005


Apropos the involvement that Philip spoke to, beyond carrying the "psychic burden," the positive obverse is the duty to contribute to nation-building. I was reminded of this reading an article in today's Gleaner about a remarkable young woman named Indianna Minto who is involved in a research project on the economy.

Turning apparent weaknesses into strengths has been one of the operational principles of the Jamaican Economy Project. Rather than relying solely on talent close to home, the project has taken advantage of Jamaica's intellectual diaspora. In the process, it has activated a virtual university of sorts. Exploiting modern communications technologies, from the Internet to teleconferencing, the project has succeeded in uniting Jamaican scholars around the world with those at home, around a shared commitment to bring their knowledge to bear on the country's future.


Moreover, continues Miss Minto, the experiences of other researchers like her, ­ young, still a bit idealistic, and solidly rooted in Jamaica though they work and live abroad ­offers a unique perspective on old problems. "Our eyes," she points out, "have not been clouded by the entrapments of politics and political affiliation. As such, our present location in foreign lands has allowed us to fly free of the nets of politics, to speak as independent and empowered individuals who are able to view our nation more objectively.

Indianna Minto's future looks bright. In the final stages of her doctoral dissertation, she has already landed herself work at Oxford University's Said Business School. Yet she hopes that she can bring some of that same optimism to bear on her country. She reflects, "No Jamaican, by virtue of youth or country of residence, should absolve himself of the responsibility to help in his country's advancement. By participating in this project I am acknowledging this fact and in so doing, making a small but what I hope will be a significant contribution to Jamaica.

There are many lessons we can draw from this as we engage the process of bringing Jamaica's human rights record with respect to sexual minorities in accord with prevailing standards.

I also found an article in The New York Times reflective of our own situation. It recounts the struggle of young Tibetans exiled in India to recreate their identity and hopefully reclaim their homeland. Speaking of Tsundue, a young poet-activist:

... he was focused on his plans to set up a public library and reading room in Dharamsala. Tibetans like himself, he said, needed to read more than books about Buddhism and the other religious texts that were available to them in Dharamsala. They needed to know about the modern world; above all, they needed to know about China. Reading rooms and libraries, he said, are where new political ideas and movements begin. As the Tibetans gathered around Tsundue's table nodded, I couldn't help thinking that this was how Tibet's adversary Mao Zedong began his career.

This was the sort of thinking behind the establishment of a library by the Gay Freedom Movement, back in the day. That library was ceded to J-FLAG. What is the status of it now? Can it be renewed as the beacon of our re-education and inspiration? I'm sure the much-maligned foreign-based activists could be persuaded to add this as a project to their infamous agendas.

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