I start by extending my condolences to the family and friends of Lowell Hawthorne. I knew him from about 1976 when as a young child he would come down to Grace Cash ‘n’ Carry on Marcus Garvey Drive (now Sampars) where I was then the manager. He was so enthusiastic coming on the truck to collect baking flour and attempting to lift the 100 lb bags onto the truck. He was so polite and energetic that even after his family migrated I remembered him until our paths crossed many years later and we had a good laugh.
There is a deeper consideration for us to focus on. Successful Jamaicans are always expected to be the donors and facilitators of charity, donations, and fundraising in an almost cavalier style that must make some people feel like the proverbial “boops”. “All that giving and no taking” (Dolly Parton 9 to 5), must cause depression for those persons who can find no one to help them when things are not going well in their own lives.
Their need may only be a kind word; a referral to someone who could help them; of even a game of dominoes to ease the tension. The lack of real friends may make some people keep things inside until they become severely sad and depressed. Jamaica is a place where we like to kick people when they are down, vilify them, Facebook and Twitter them, and then eulogize them at a funeral. It is wrong and we must reconsider the heartless exigencies of mendicancy and vicarious living.
In Jamaica we must begin to recognize the fact that we are different in many ways and sometimes we seek to glorify the good and omit or simply hide the bad. We are super-achievers overseas and our diaspora is testimony to this. They occupy high positions in their adopted countries in business, innovation, sciences, medicine, law, political representation, music, and fashion.
We seek them out for assistance to schools, hospitals, and yes, political contributions.
We also excel in most cases of criminality, drug-running, shooting and associated violence, at home and abroad. They disrupt and control communities, family life, and re-introduce a new form of modern slavery and dependence.
We seek them out for assistance to schools, hospitals, and yes, political contributions.
We are leaders of good and bad; we are the kindest and the most violent; we extend the greatest love and the most hate. We play the best dominoes and read the game accurately without being officially literate or numerate. We set trends for others and fail to behave in a disciplined manner at home. As a people we are a strange enigma, almost like a totally displaced ancient tribe.
The problem is, we seem to be getting stranger and we no longer have the ability to analyze and modify our progressive mental deterioration. Professor Fred Hickling suggests that the population has a predisposition to certain mental aberrations at a percentage of about 40% of the total population. Other psychiatrists maintain the opinion that smoking ganja, alcohol abuse, and other drugs, enable the emergence of these otherwise suppressed disorders.
I can offer no professional opinion. I can observe that as a population we seem to be undergoing a radical transformation that is closer to devolution rather than evolution; a species that is reversing itself. We lose general education; reasoning skills; the ability to resolve inter-personal problems, conversational skills have become confrontational skills, and we seek the lowest common denominator and amplify their negative behaviours. In mathematical terms we are a mere fraction of our former selves, and also of our future ambitions and expectations. Indeed we may be becoming a “vulgar fraction”.
The only image I see is that we are like the survivors of the “final war” depicted in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome; or Planet of the Apes. This cannot be allowed to happen. We seem to be complacent as we approach a failed nation status, not only as an economy, but as a society.
There are many steps that we can take to avoid the dangerous path. Two of these are discipline and education, not separately but conjointly.
Education requires a methodology that effectively challenges our minds to think and not regurgitate so-called facts written by others for their own purposes. This differentiates Homo Sapiens from parrots. Columbus did not discover Jamaica; and the Tainos (a.k.a. Arawaks) were not lost. Our African heritage has almost been expunged and the European has been corrupted in order to protect the guilty (their brutality was rewarded by titles and land).
Discipline is an ability to set generally accepted rules and to apply them fairly. This becomes a building block on which order is maintained while allowing for the processes that facilitate the developmental processes that change demands.
Conjointly, they set the basis for logical thinking that enables us to grasp literature, science, technology, and music, within the boundaries that tend to protect against the rending of the very fabric of society. They reduce the tendencies that lead towards chaos and anarchy, while preserving the humanity that we need in order to exist peacefully in a small land space (4,000 square miles).
Let us go in the direction of growth, and stop shrinking every pathway towards progress. We must always remember the dangerous stage that is an interim to devolution and evolution; that stage is called revolution. Beware!

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