It is very easy to turn a deaf ear to the monotonous rhetoric by the grumbling masses about what is not going right in our country! Don't you tune out eventually to something you hear over and over again? Why don't we then, as a collective, change the strategy?
There seems to be a long awaited awakening to consciousness in Jamaica about the long-practiced ills in our society. A great upsurge of courageous defiance can be seen throughout the popular news and communication portals against the corruptions at all levels of the society. More and more, our leaders are under pressure from the masses to address injustices that have remained hidden for decades and the tsunami is threatening, compounded by the harsh economic environment we are forced to survive in. I suspect that persons who were happily shielded in the past from the squeeze now find it difficult to ignore as their direct experiences manifest unwanted scenarios.
Jamaica is a talkative nation. According to a report from BuddeComm, an Australia-based telecom research firm, the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the Caribbean in early 2009 were seen in Jamaica (115%). We have a multitude of radio talk-shows, suss columns and enough communication portals to send our messages, good and bad, to our countrymen and even the world. Verbal diarrhea is our strong suit but we are paralyzed when it comes to the solutions to our cries. Why is this? We have the legacy of so many intellectual giants and courageous heroes yet we stand in one position, screaming and shouting for change.
Politicians are the main target for our venomous tirades. It must be a very frightening experience for some of our politicians currently as they are now being called out more than ever before in our history. But are such tirades deserved?
There is an expectation, albeit unreasonable at times, that politicians must address all the social, medical, economical and legal problems we experience. Many persons have ridiculously clamored for politicians to come and clean up their homes after suffering the ravages of a flood: they ignore the fact that they illegally built houses on land which has been deemed unsafe. Other reasonable demands by the electorate such as the proper use of income tax funds seem to fall on deafened ears. We have high expectations of our leaders and we are now more than ever verbally enraged by the seemingly flippant or comatose responses we receive much too often.
It is sadly amusing however that we as a people clamor for change from our leaders yet we conduct the same unethical and downright illegal practices in our businesses, churches, and yes, even families. How many of us are always completely above-board in our business dealings: from tax evasions to refusal to honour our commitments? What about living a life of integrity where we say what we mean and we do as we said we would? We are quick to chastise our leaders, and we should, but we never seem to address these issues in our intimate experiences where we cheat and lie and thwart any system in place that supports good citizenship and honesty. Are our politicians not our mirror reflection? Do we like what we see? Who needs to make the changes?
In my view, the problem goes way deeper than we realize, or want to face. Our main problem as Jamaicans is that we are still under the illusion that we are just above nothing. Our collective self-esteem is a reflection of our history. We are taught that we are children of slaves: worthless men who have no other function but to breed and produce healthy slaves, tired and lonely women who must not depend on our men to defend and provide for us as they are too busy giving their last breath in service to Maasa. We have been raped of our Greatness!
The collective low esteem is a result of being brainwashed into thinking that we are powerless vagrants who will NEVER achieve anything. Ironically, if we look closely, the world yearns to emulate our unique traits. The world wants to BE like a Jamaican! Run! Walk! Talk! Sing! Dance! This is not to take away the value and greatness of our Caribbean sisters and brothers. It is an observation from my point of view and therefore subjective. We are constantly emulated by others and they capitalize on this emulation while we struggle to see our own greatness and worthy contributions to mankind. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Robert Nesta Marley, Professor Rexton Milton Nettleford, Usain St. Leo Bolt and countless others have made their mark on this world and they are sons and daughters of a people who remain veiled and unconscious.
Revolution is in the air but it cannot take the same form as in the past. Bloody and traumatic revolts are part of our history and at the time it was perhaps necessary. Since violence is one of the major sources of heartache for our country, it cannot be that the revolution needed is bloody and violent. The revolutionary landscape I will suggest requires the Mind and the Spirit as its weapon and the Will as its driving force. Stop Talking!!! Now is the time to rise above the lower realms that we have been wallowing in for far too long. It is time to accept ourselves as who we truly are. We are not sons and daughters of slaves: we are sons and daughters of greatness, courage, and wisdom, endowed with gifts to be used to inspire our children and the rest of the world. We need to take responsibility for the leaders we choose and how we direct them to serve us. We must demand from them what we need them to be for us and at the same time we must make adjustments in our lives that reflect greatness, integrity and courage. Each man and woman can be the new hero of this time: fearless, proud and confident.
This place that we find ourselves, delusional and pitiful, no longer serves us and it is time to change this status. Change is what we expect it to be: it can be arduous and painful or smooth and focused. However, we imagine the path to be, we should begin with the man in the mirror. There is enough talent and intellect in our country to transform Jamaica into the realized potential that others see clearly: a beautiful Jewel of the Caribbean. This is up to no one else but us:
_.To work diligently and creatively, To think generously and honestly, So that Jamaica may, under God, Increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, And play Her part in advancing the welfare of the Whole Human Race
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Tina S Mowatt is an Editorial Contributor with The MNI Alive Network. We are a global online presence for Caribbean Media, News & Insight (MNI)