There are huge differences in wealth in Jamaica. We range from native born Jamaicans who are United States dollar billionaires and millionaires to the dirt poor, particularly the rural dirt poor who have basically nothing, not even the land on which their little make-shift lean to is “kotched”. In between we have the affluent, the middle class, the working class which lives from pay cheque to pay cheque in a small mortgaged NHT house or rented premises to those who earn the minimum wage or less. The majority of those who earn the minimum wage have no job security. They have no health insurance. They are the fodder of our great economy.
All societies have had the wealthy and the poor. However, despite the vagaries of wealth and poverty, not all societies have descended into social chaos, disorder and violence. History reminds us of examples of these. The Haitian Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and countless others. These societies became enmeshed into violence by a lack of social harmony.
Social harmony occurs when those who have not only realise that their essential duty to society is to share their bounty but they practice it. Every citizen knows deep in the recesses of his heart that he has a cardinal obligation to practice benevolence and charity. It is the wide scale practice of this cardinal virtue that leads to social harmony. The rich may easily become poor. The healthy may easily become sick.
Even if one is not motivated by heavenly virtues in the practice of charity and benevolence, one ought to be motivated by self-interest. Self interest demands that those who have recognise that the “barbarians” are at the door. They will always out-number those who have. Self interest mandates that we share our bounty or it may be forcibly taken from us.
The current Covid-19 pandemic is one of life’s great equalisers. It has struck from a Prince (Prince Charles), Prime Ministers, sporting royalty, to the business executive, the worker, the poor and the dispossessed. It reminds of our birth, as we all came naked into this world. It is a stark reminder of the fragility of our existence. It also reminds us of our duty to assist our neighbour. Rich or poor. People who have nothing to lose will lose nothing by taking up arms.
What do you have to give to the cause of charity and benevolence?
Do not wait until there is chaos and you lose everything.