Tuesday Thoughts: Jamaican Reflections
Jamaica is a very blessed, talented and vivacious country. Jamaica is also a cursed, stagnant and barren country. I can say both of these statements and neither of them would be incorrect. We live in a time where Jamaica is at a crossroads and everyone wants to go in a different direction.
We celebrated our Heroes' Day 2016 and for most, it was just another public holiday, a beach day, just another politician chatting speech day. Very few knew we were clearing the criminal records of three of our national heroes and of the Maroon chief Tacky. In fact, we recently had a petition to clear our own Marcus Mosiah Garvey's name in the United States for his Mail Fraud conviction which got him deported and to which the US government knowingly framed him as he was allegedly a threat to their country, allegedly... The petition got just over 25,000 signatures of the 100,000 needed... How touching for the man that advocated self-sufficiency, he would weep if he saw us now. Few acknowledge the sacrifices our national heroes gave to secure our freedom, for us to squander it in petty political quarrels and tribalism.
There is a popular saying in the United States, "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" Well my country has betrayed me. I want to start a business but I am weighed down by so much red tape, I could swim in it. If you're lucky, hold the faith and be patient you finally get to the front of the line... only to find that the Chinese got a shortcut because they're members of the Gold money club. Granted we need foreign investments but if it is at the hands of strangling your own population's entrepreneurial pursuits then what is the point? We can have only so many call centers. They get tax breaks; we get a pat on the head like a dog that has learnt a new trick.
Do you know why there are so little youth voters? We have already given up on this barren wasteland of politics. We have mentally signed out from here and psychically we are just waiting on the visa. Frankly we pay more attention to the US election than we do to our own because we see ourselves making a future there than here; at least you can make your voice be heard even if it is just an illusion. Out here, there is no illusion, they want us at the table but the order is to Sit down, shut up and speak when you're spoken to. I remember attending Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network's Youth Symposium and listening the discussion regarding youth participation in politics. Many youth echoed the sentiment that they wanted to participate in the process but felt out of place. The representative from the government then said that if there was no seat at the table for them then bring your own chair to the table, interesting rebuttal but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re seen as outsiders at the damn table. It's sad when the youth of Jamaica would prefer to be second class citizens in another country than leaders and builders in their homeland. But can you blame them? Our sliding dollar, the debt to the IMF and the subsequent paying back of said debt along with little job prospects apart from a call center agent or scamma and you expect us to sit and wait for you to fix things? No, Patriotism doesn’t pay bills nor is it blind stupidity.
So why should I fight for a country that is hell bent on killing itself? A country that knows it needs to change but seems so unwilling to do so because we more than likely won’t see the benefits in our lifetime? Why should the youth squander their youth trying to fix not a broken system but one that is out of date, out of touch and even seemingly out of ideas? The definition of insanity is doing the same over and over again and expecting a different result. Jamaica is insane….