I have not written a blog in a few days as I have been busy and also a bit lazy. In the back of my mind, however, I had crafted a blog about my fear of death: my own death and that of those I love. Strangely, I picked up my laptop, checked my Facebook page and realized that I would not write about death but would instead write about my true passion in life.
The way things are going these days I sometimes (very rarely) sit back and wonder if I should be ashamed of the fact that nothing gets me as passionate and excited as politics and political campaigning. After that fleeting thought, I sit back and wonder if I will continue to have this almost orgasmic feeling for representational politics at the age of 60 and 70: I guess only time will tell.
My first entry into politics began in high school when I campaigned for and won the position of Student Council President. It was as though a fire had been lit in the pit of my stomach that could only be kept burning with more campaigning and lobbying. On entering university in 1994 I joined the Jamaica Labour Party‘s (JLP)youth arm Young Jamaica and the fire started roaring even more than before. I felt as though I had found my new home, a place where everyone spoke my language and felt my level of passion. By 1998 I decided however to step away from politics and to build a career. This decision was premised on the fact that being a Labourite in Jamaica at that time was like a mark of nonexistence, a symbol that you had no ambition or you were just brainwashed by your family beliefs. Few people knew at the time that my family was evenly split along political lines. One grandparent being a staunch Labourite, the other a staunch Comrade. I had as much chance of being a Comrade as I was a Labourite. While it saddened me to back away I knew as a recent graduate I needed to do something outside of the political sphere. I needed to build my brand before I could be taken seriously among a group of people (primarily men) who were gatekeepers to a party long grown defensive from constant defeat.
My career flourished but by 2003 I felt the need to step away from it and I decided to pursue what I felt I was born to be a part of: representational politics. There were those who thought me mad, there were those who thought me brave but there was my family that understood my need to pursue the passion. Several weeks after my resignation I walked into Belmont Road (the headquarters of the JLP) and expressed my interest in running for a Councillor seat. This is when people thought me nuts. Why would you run as a Councillwoman? Why not wait and run as a Member of Parliament? Running as Member of Parliament was seen as being more prestigious but I stuck my ground and reminded myself that I knew what I wanted: I wanted a chance to help the downtrodden and the less fortunate. I wanted to show people that politicians are honest, politicians do care, politicians do get the job done and I needed to feed my need for campaigning.
Many people laughed and said, “Are you really giving everything up for a party that has been in opposition for fourteen years?” I held my head high and ran elections under the banner of the party that I believed in (and still believe in). To the surprise of some and the expectation of others, on June 19, 2003 I won the Westchester Division in the Municipality of Portmore – a sweet feat for the JLP that had not won the Westchester Division in a mighty long time. Along with my victory, the JLP had also taken home another 4 seats within the Municipality. It was a major coup for us but not enough to take the majority. We were still elated as the 5 of us managed to make our presence felt and achieve quite a bit of what we set out to do as a team.
Between 2003 and the end of my term I fell in love with not only my job but with the people whom I represented. I visited every home of the thousands in the Division at least once. I walked until I could walk no more. I was arrested, I missed a lot of time with my family and I was verbally abused by the opposition. Most importantly though is the fact that I know I made a difference in the life of the people I served. To this day I miss them and I miss campaigning, lobbying and standing up for what is right and what is best.
I changed paths to secure my family and that I don’t regret but by golly I miss it. Similar to the saying, it is better to love and lose than never to love at all, I often remind myself that it is better to go after your passion than live a life wondering, “what if ?” Quite often I laugh at myself because I have never been in politics when my party is in power. I guess that means I am a true Labourite whether we are up or down. Stand up for what you believe whether or not it is fashionable to do so. Find your passion and pursue it, ignore the critics and the cynics: be true to yourself at least once in your life.
Until next time…..One Love!!!