Coming Soon

Sharla’s Thoughts will be on a break until November 11, 2018. The purpose of this break is to accomodate changes and upgrades to the blog, as well the addition of new features. Thank you to my followers, readers, commenters and voters for your support. Looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you very soon.

No More Plastic

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There are a number of processes I usually go through before I can decide what to write about. At times, it may delay the release of a new blog. One of these processes involves reading various letters to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner. I recently came across one on the weekend entitled “Short-sighted to ban plastic bag”, written by Glen McFarlane, from St. Catherine. The letter had strong points, mainly the point stating that it will be very expensive for citizens to stop using plastic bags and instead use environmentally safe alternatives. I strongly agree with this point, however, I have a few other concerns. Are Jamaicans properly informed as to are the best alternatives to using plastic bags are? What is the cost to make the switch? Will switching from plastic to other environmentally safe alternatives, stop pollution? Here are Sharla’s Thoughts.

While I commend the government for officially making the move to ban plastic bags, they have failed to properly inform the Jamaican public of the best plastic bag alternatives that are environmentally safe. It is not enough to simply ban the plastic bags and say why the ban is the best option. We, Jamaicans, need to be informed of the best alternatives available. When citizens are properly informed, it will be easier for them to agree to the ban and cooperate with the government. A ban on plastic bags is the best option if we are to preserve our environment that is already heavily polluted, but how much will this cost?

A study conducted by Trucost, a company that makes estimates about the hidden costs of unsustainable use of natural resources by companies, found that “the environmental cost of using plastics in consumer goods and packaging is nearly four times less than it would be if plastics were replaced with alternative materials.” https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Study-from-Trucost-Finds-Plastics-Reduce-Environmental-Costs/ Based on this study, we can conclude that the cost to use alternative products and materials will be expensive. Island Grill, a company that does not use plastic bags or plastic products, has said via CEO Thalia Lyn in an article on Nationwide Newsnet, that “there is a heavy cost attached to the importation of eco-friendly packaging, and it will be a challenge for many companies to switch.” http://nationwideradiojm.com/island-grill-boss-urges-govt-to-make-environmentally-friendly-packaging-cheaper/ Though it is an expensive venture, there are many ways we can make it more affordable.

The government’s plastic buyback scheme, valued at $75 million dollars, will definitely help to assist companies that produce plastic bags, with offsetting some of the cost related to using plastic bag alternatives and alternative plastic materials. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20180610/govt-allocates-75m-plastic-bottle-buy-back-scheme Another great option, is a suggestion made by Island Grill CEO Thalia Lyn, who has said that “the government should lower the duty on environmentally friendly packaging.” This is another way for companies to offset the cost of producing and distributing eco-friendly products. The government can also negotiate with trade partners on behalf of the companies to ensure the best prices for eco-friendly products are provided. These suggestions and plans will be of great help to all the companies that produce and/or distribute plastic bags and plastic products, but what about the rest of Jamaica? How can we as citizens reduce the use of plastic bags, make our environment safe and cooperate with the government?

The first step in achieving this is to educate ourselves on the importance of the ban and the alternative products available. We DO NOT need to depend on the government to provide this information. We can do our own research and read up on the topic. Secondly, we need to recycle more and STOP polluting our rivers, drains, gully and streets. If we agree to comply to the ban on plastic bags, and continue to pollute our environment with other items, we are still destroying our country. Our National Anthem says “Jamaica, land we love.” If we truly love our country, why do we continue to litter and pollute it? Why do we watch our children litter and pollute it, yet we do nothing? Come on Jamaica, we need to do better. Let us work with the government and play our part in making our country environmentally safe for us, our children, our animals and the generations to come. Let us teach our children how to take care of their environment. Let us take better care of Jamaica, land we love. These are few of my eco-friendly thoughts, tell me what you think.

Note: The government has announced that they will be embarking on an education campaign regarding the ban on plastic bags.https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/gov-t-starts-education-campaign-on-plastic-styrofoam-ban_146382?profile=1606

Culture of Selfishness

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I recently came to the conclusion that Jamaica is adopting a culture of selfishness. There was a time when if you opened a door for someone they would say “thank you”, or if you accidentally bumped into someone they would say “I’m sorry.” Presently, that is no longer the case. Individuals are forgetting simple courtesies such as: “excuse me”, “pardon me” and “you’re welcome”, to name a few. They are more focused on “me, me, me”. This culture of selfishness is now similar to that of the culture in The United States of America, where President Donald Trump has often spoken of putting America and America’s interest ahead of everyone else. Now don’t get me wrong, I do understand why he has said this and I agree to a certain extent. I agree that as nationals of a country we should look out for the interests of our countries first, however, we should always keep in mind that the success of our country is dependent on the assistance and business of other countries. In the same way as Jamaicans we need to remember that though some of us may be successful, it is not an excuse to forget or fail to be courteous to others. The same persons we do not exercise courtesy towards are most times the persons we depend on for our success. Basic customer service skills are greatly lacking from many of our business service individuals, our children fight each other over the simplest of things that can be resolved with a “I am sorry” and pedestrians are involved in daily arguments because they only care for themselves and not the other person passing by. This culture of selfishness is increasing daily. What is the cause of this culture of selfishness? How can we reduce this culture of selfishness? Here are Sharla’s Thoughts.

The English Oxford Living Dictionaries define selfishness as “lack of consideration for other people.” The culture of selfishness in Jamaica is derived from individuals who only consider their own thoughts, feelings and opinions. In doing so, they forget or do not consider the thoughts, feelings and opinions of others. I have concluded that the main reason why we have adopted this culture of selfishness is because of FEAR. We FEAR that if we help someone they may become more successful than we are. We FEAR that if we are kind to someone they may take advantage of us. We FEAR that all the hard work and sacrifices we have made will result in nothing, if we take the time to lend a helping hand. This FEAR is so powerful that we are convinced that the best option is to be mean, unkind and selfish towards others. This FEAR is understandable and I can relate as I have had moments where I am hesitant to consider others. I have had fears that anyone I help will take advantage of my kindness, and view me as weak and vulnerable.

So why do I keep helping? Why do I consider another person’s thoughts, feelings and opinions, and not just my own? I remember and never forget, that someone helped me. Someone took the time to consider my thoughts, feelings and opinions. Without the selflessness of those who have helped me, I would not be able to accomplish anything. We need to remember that without the kind words of encouragement or thoughtfulness of others, we would be victims of the selfishness that we are guilty of displaying.

We need to put ourselves in the positions of others before we act. When we start to consider how we would feel if someone was selfish towards us, then we will start to be more selfless. Look at it this way, when we take the time to consider someone else before ourselves, it will inspire others to consider us before themselves. Let us break the culture of selfishness. As the great Dalai Lama once said: “If you think only of yourself, if you forget the rights and well-being of others, or, worse still, if you exploit others, ultimately you will lose. You will have no friends who will show concern for your well-being. Moreover, if a tragedy befalls you, instead of feeling concerned, others might even secretly rejoice. By contrast, if an individual is compassionate and altruistic, and has the interests of others in mind, then irrespective of whether that person knows a lot of people, wherever that person moves, he or she will immediately make friends. And when that person faces a tragedy, there will be plenty of people who will come to help.” These are just a few of my selfless thoughts, tell me what you think.

Country or Party?

I don’t usually discuss politics in Jamaica, as I find that very few persons are able to have constructive, unbiased and objective conversations regarding the different political parties. Most Jamaicans only see green or orange, and not necessarily what is best for their country. Often times when persons are asked “why do you vote?,” they usually respond that “their grandparents, great grandparents or great great grandparents voted for the party they choose.” A few persons will give valid reasons, while others choose not to vote at all. Will Jamaicans ever vote for country or will they continue to vote for party? Do we understand why it’s important to vote for our country and not just a political party? Here are Sharla’s Thoughts.

Voting is a method used to express one’s opinion or will in response to a proposed decision. When we vote in an election, we are making our thoughts, values, feelings and needs known to the representatives of our communities, towns, parishes and country. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly. We must become informed citizens in order to decide who are the best candidates to represent our values and needs. Why should we be informed? When we become informed we will know the key issues affecting our communities, towns, parishes and country, as well as the position of the candidates on each issue.

Voting is the only way many of us will have a say in how our government functions. When we vote, we hold our government accountable for their actions, which in turn creates a sense of responsibility. How you might be wondering? Our chosen candidates will know that once they have been selected for representation, they will have to conduct themselves in a professional manner and perform the job they have been chosen for. They will also know that if they are not conducting their duties, they will be removed from public representation.

Voting has also been found to contribute to the development and growth of many countries. It has also been found that countries which conduct frequent, competitive and fair elections enjoy better economic growth. This economic growth happens as governments are forced to become disciplined and develop policies that benefit their countries. The right to vote is such an important right, that it could make or break the economy of a country.

There are many countries where persons do not have the right vote, or have only recently received the right to vote. In Saudi Arabia women received the right to vote in 2015, and the country has had only seven elections in eighty years, as it’s government is in practice a monarchy. In Belgium and Turkey persons are required to vote, and in some cases may lose their right to vote if they do not use it. They may also find it difficult to get a job in the public sector. Can you imagine living in a country where in you are forced to vote or you will no longer be able to? This is how important it is to ensure that when we vote, we are making the best decision for our country.

I implore all Jamaicans, when you make the decision to vote, do not do it because you want a political party to win. When you vote, do it because it is the right thing to do and vote for the candidates who will make the best decision for our country. We are blessed and privileged to have this important right, let us use it wisely. These are a few of my thoughts, tell me what you think.

Training our Police Officers

I am an avid reader of the newspaper, as I find it stimulating and calming. I don’t really have a favorite news outlet, but I mostly read The Jamaica Observer Online. One day I came across an article, written by their staff reporter Alicia Sutherland, about the deacon in Mandeville, who murdered a student at The Northern Caribbean University, in the same parish. The crime and the details of the crime were very gruesome and disturbing. I also found the way in which the police handled the investigation more disturbing than the crime itself. Why? According to the article the police visited the accused house on more than one occasion and the individual was not present. Days later the accused was found dead in his home from an apparent suicide.http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/front-page/killer-deacon-dead-mandeville-residents-express-relief-regret_143630

My problem with the police’s role in the investigation is an issue that I find to be consistent in a lot of criminal investigations. The issue I am speaking of, is I don’t believe there was enough due diligence on the part of the police. I believe they should have assigned officers at the location of the accused to keep watch in the event that he would return to his house. This would’ve allowed them to apprehend the suspect, rather than leaving the property without surveillance, which in turn resulted in the suspect returning to his residence and committing suicide. This prompted me to research requirements necessary for recruitment to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, as well as the training they undergo. I was not able to find much information, as government websites only outline the basics. This was very frustrating, but we will talk about that another time. I was able to gather some information from an information website called My Island Jamaica. The website outlined the relevant documents and forms of identification required for each applicant. It further stated that applicants will need to undergo an entrance test, physical assessment, background check, medical tests and psychological tests. As it relates to educational qualifications, they are required to have at minimum of four CXC/GCE/CSEC passes. There is no other requirement for applicants who are seeking to become a member of The Jamaica Constabulary Force. https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/what-are-the-requirements-to-become-a-police-officer-in-jamaica.html

Based on the information gathered and the actions of the police during the investigation of the “killer deacon”, I found myself wondering if the training our police officers are receiving is sufficient. Do we need to upgrade the qualification requirements for our police officers? Here are Sharla’s Thoughts.

I firmly believe that we need to upgrade the qualification requirements for our police officers. One qualification that I believe ALL police officers should have is that of a certificate/diploma/degree in Criminal Psychology. Why? Criminal Psychology is “the study of the wills, thoughts, intentions and reactions of criminals and all that partake in criminal behavior.” A Criminal Psychology qualification will ensure that our police officers are properly qualified to investigate crimes. This qualification will allow them to effectively and efficiently investigate crimes and increase their arrest rate, which in turn results in a decrease in the crime rate. They will also understand better how a criminal thinks, which will enhance their investigative skills. As I always say “if you want to catch a criminal, you have to think like a criminal.”

Our police officers also need to watch more criminal shows and crime dramas on television. One of my favorite crime dramas is CSI. I enjoy watching CSI and it teaches you why and how criminals commit crimes. It also teaches the different ways that investigators can investigate crimes. Though the show is mostly fiction, there are some true elements that will be helpful to our police officers. Crime dramas, like CSI, will provide them with tips on how they can capture criminals. Look at this way, a lot of the crimes committed in these dramas are similar to the ones being committed by real life criminals. We could easily conclude from this, that it is possible that the criminals are getting their knowledge on how to commit crimes from these television shows. In the same way our police officers can gain knowledge from these shows.

My final thought is that our police officers need to be enrolled in Continual Customer Service Training. Why is this training necessary? Many of our police officers are not able to communicate properly with citizens on a daily basis. This inability to communicate has led to a lot of confusion, frustration, mistrust and lack of information. Continual Customer Service Training will provide them with our officers with the necessary tools, that will allow for better communicate with citizens. This will make their jobs easier as they will be able to gather information and take witness statements more effectively and efficiently. Communication between the police and citizens is vital if we are to rid the country of this monster we call crime.

If we truly want this country to be better, then we must ensure that we put all measures in place, to ensure that the persons who lay their lives on the line so we can be safe every day, are the most qualified and have all the necessary tools to complete their job. It will require more than the basics to get the job done. These are a few of my thoughts, tell me what you think.

City Gridlocked

There is a saying “a picture is worth one thousand words.” How many words do you think the one above is worth? Here are Sharla’s Thoughts. This is just one of the many scenes in Kingston, Jamaica. The city has been experiencing a severe traffic situation due to several ongoing roadwork projects, conducted by the National Works Agency (NWA). The roadwork is being conducted is to expand the road and build an overpass bridge, at the Portia Simpson Square, commonly known as three miles. I do agree that this is the right move, as this is one of the busiest areas of the city. However, closing the area with a day or two notice is unacceptable. Why is this unacceptable?

When making major traffic changes it is important for persons to be properly informed and given ample time to adjust to the changes. A week or two would be sufficient. This notice period will also provide the police officers and flag men with enough time to familiarize themselves with the new routes, in order to properly direct commuters. The National Works Agency will in turn appreciate a longer notice period, as they would be able to implement proper signs. This would definitely help to ease the frustration of the commuters and make work easier for police officers and NWA employees.

We, as commuters, should be more understanding and cooperate with the police and road work personnels. I understand you are frustrated, however, they have a job to do as well. If we curse, scream and disregard their instructions, it will only cause confusion and chaos. It will take a lot of teamwork and patience to make it through this period. The rewards will be worth it in the end. These are thoughts on the traffic issues in Kingston, Jamaica, share your thoughts with me.

Positive Role Models

As a child, I had several role models, my mother, grandparents, aunts and uncles. As I got older there were several other persons who inspired me and contributed to the woman I am today. These persons were my role models. Today, many of us still have persons who we idolize and consider our role models. While we consider these persons to be our role models, one has to wonder if they are really “role models?” Who is a role model? The business dictionary online defines a role model as “an individual who is looked up to or revered by someone else” or “someone whom another individual aspires to be like, either in the present or in the future.” http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/role-model.html It is very important for us to have role models, but not just any role models. Why is important you ask? Role models help to shape our behaviors and influence our relationships with family members and friends. They even influence the decisions we make. Decisions such as our appearance, career choices and spending habits, to name a few. We must ensure that the individuals we choose as role models are those with good qualities, that have a positive effect on our lives. How do we know what qualities make up a good role model? What should we look for in our role models? Here are Sharla’s Thoughts.

A positive role model has good leadership qualities. They are always uplifting others and setting good examples for us to follow. They set goals and objectives, and in turn helps others achieve their goals and objectives. A role model with good leadership qualities is confident and leads from the front.

Showing respect and concern for others is another good quality of positive role models. These persons always lend a helping hand, shows gratitude and doesn’t take others for granted. They humility and helps others because it is the right thing to do. They make sacrifices and seek no praise.

Finally positive role models accept responsibility for their actions and willingly admit their mistakes. These role models are not afraid to practice what I call the four As. They will Admit their wrongs, Apologize for their wrongs, Accept their wrongs and take Accountability for their wrongs. Positive role models also ensure their wrongs are not repeated.

Anyone can be a role model. A family member, a friend, a celebrity, a politician, a pastor, anyone. Once they have the right qualities they can be role models. These are just some of the qualities I think they have, share your qualities and your role model.