September 23, 2005
Priest: Protect dignity of people

by Sheron Garraway

Father Harcourt Blackett has exhorted the law fraternity to protect the dignity of people.

This message was delivered at the opening of the New Law Term at the St. George’s Cathedral Tuesday, September 20.

The Barbadian priest, said Caribbean people, unlike those on the African continent have forgotten the philosophy of ‘I am because we are.” {{more}}He advised that if this concept were kept in mind, Caribbean people would lose excessive individualistic and materialistic tendencies and care for each other more.

He outlined that the ultimate injustice was for a person or group to be treated as if they were not members of the human race.

“To treat people this way means that they do not count as human beings.”

He described the separation between state and law as one of the greatest threats to society where life-threatening practices such as abortion, euthanasia and unfair trading policies have thrived and even spurred on international problems such as war.

The man of the cloth called on lawyers to improve their worldview and to go beyond defending the ordinary so that they challenge themselves and the system.

He elaborated, “Too often in the work place the bottom line takes precedence over the rights of workers. We believe that the economy must serve people. If the dignity of work is to be protected then the basic rights of workers must be respected. People have the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages and to join unions.”

Father Blackett acknowledged that Caribbean people had brilliant vision and great ideas, but often do not see them through. He pointed to concepts such as regional integration, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Caribbean Court of Justice, (CCJ) as just some of these concepts where reasons were made why the ideas could not work.

“We continue to say that we can’t carry on our own affairs, we continue to believe that we can not be trusted. We continue to say that it can’t work and then we spend a great time and energy finding reasons why it can’t and why it won’t work. Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Michael Manley noted that the greatest problem in the Caribbean was a lack of self-confidence. Caribbean people are held in the highest esteem by people outside the region but we lack faith in ourselves,” he stated.

The priest chided many “church people” for just observing the law while they sit back and watch the poor and down throden be marginalised by some of these laws.

At the service a special song was rendered by members of the law fraternity and an offering collected for charity. But another show of solidarity was the marching of members from the church to the courthouse.