From afar you look worn and tired. You seem ready to throw in the towel. The collective “whatever!” sounds like a sigh of despondence. It appears the fight has left you and you have resigned yourself to the “a suh di ting set” state. I remember when you would view with intolerance attacks on children and championed discipline in your young. This stance bore good fruit in the exploits of sports and academia. We were the toast of the world for our cultural exploits and hospitality. Now, our name is a pariah in many countries and our sad reality is detention and peculiar side glances when we go overseas. Now child murders are common occurrences and videos of our children mimicking lewd, sexual behavior taught by uncaring adults are the norm.
The chasm between the wealthy and the impoverished has widened dramatically, even while our leaders massage us with empty platitudes of “love” and “understanding.” For those of us who work, our labor seems to be in vain as we cannot afford bare necessities for ourselves and our families. At our urging, our children go to school to prepare a future for themselves. But we feel like hypocrites when we reassure them that they will be rewarded for their hard work and competence when they are finished. This is truly a hollow promise as we know the truth is that most will not have industries in which to nurture their creative talents. To compound the felony, any entrepreneurial spirit they might have will be killed on arrival because of the harsh business climate.
Then there is the ever growing underclass. The ones that missed the G-SAT boat. The ones who are forced to live by their wits as each door of opportunity that was previously slightly opened is now firmly bolted. The ones who felt like if they lived simply, worked really hard, saved as much as possible, then things might be better one day. If only, in their next generation. The household helpers, the gardeners, the ancillary staff, the sky juice man, the craft vendor. The people among us who just never got a break.
Our marginal majority, who never quite got the English and Mathematics down pat. They are particularly vulnerable to that every five year visitor called the politician, who promised to fight for better roads so uncle could get his crops to market easier, to use his office to finally bring piped water to the district so that mother can stop paying the water truck out of her already meager means, to lobby for increased patrols from the police to make the community safer for everybody. Instead, they must suffer to listen repeatedly to rehashed and recycled promises. All the while, being bribed by the temporary relief of $5000 and a T-shirt. Hunger can make you sell your very soul. Most of these wish elections were an annual event as at least they can look forward to a meal and a few dollars.
So Jamaica, at this cross roads, the questions are do you want better? When did you start elevating mediocrity to the level that it has now risen? Where are you going? Where is your real progress? Years from now, what will be your legacy? Will your children be recolonized by the Chinese, with our complicit signature on the bill of sale? Will the encouragement left us by Marcus Garvey of being able to “accomplish what you will” go in vain? What will happen to your future generations? Can they all migrate? Who will be left? Is it enough to win the race to the bottom of the Caribbean growth ladder? What happened?
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