Jamaica: Part-Time Patriotic, Full-Time Partisan
“Any country whose citizens are not constantly filled with pride of self, community and accomplishment, but are far more consistently passionate about political persuasion, have failed to master their true patriotism” – Rodney S. O. Campbell
We gained independence and a supposed sense of self as Jamaicans, but somewhere along the way, the true spirit of patriotism was undervalued and replaced with political passion and tribal fanaticism.
It is quite easy to say “I am a Jamaican” or “I love Jamaica” when a discussion challenges thoughts or allegiance. It is even easier when the international stage calls for support and we see “one of us” against the world. Incidentally, we seem to prefer when the world tells us how great our performers are to guarantee our explosive expression of “one love”.
No problem mon. The doubters think very little of basic facts, and use many modern ways and terms to make excuses, but think about basics then. How much did WE rate Bob Marley before a Time Magazine and other international markers declared his “greatness”? All the years that Tessanne Chin was known as a great singer, without The Voice did WE give her five percent of the support in a year that we gave her in a day? Did WE believe in Usain Bolt or were we ready to write him off early in his career? Did WE believe in the Reggae Boyz after their World Cup showing? Before Alia Atkinson beat the world what kind of support did we offer? The examples can fill a library.
Truth is, we rally when an occasional star is shining, and mainly after others appreciate or highlight their greatness. We like to look at the United States for example and envy their high level of patriotism, but even the depressed areas talk about their communities with pride and passion. Various states do all possible to make an exceptional profile, using even the smallest piece of history, farming, education, sites etc as a drawing card. The collective spirit creates a patriotic nature that is enviable. When there is a disaster or crisis, it becomes a part of every citizen’s experience. See 9/11 and several other issues… work it out.
What Is Patriotism?
By definition it is simple passion, but goes deeper than the flippant interpretations we use. Patriotism is a healthy pride in your country that fosters feelings of loyalty AND a desire to help other citizens. Take note, that it is not merely about carrying or waving a national flag, identifying self with country or vigorously defending the honour of country. You CANNOT love and care about your country if you don’t care about the people. It takes people to make a country, and saying “I love my Jamaican people”, while having no real interest in their well-being shows a lack of patriotic understanding. Patriotism is formally taught at the primary education level in civic settings, but seems to be converted into self-focus after that. Our own acceptance of a general degenerative state in education, public health care, social services, shows we have lost concern for fellow citizens. How well do you expect to survive in a country where we don’t care about the welfare of ALL citizens?
We have consistently shown our loyalty to a political party and the beliefs, ideological principles, the corruption, injustices, failures, triumphs, tribal practices, victories of said parties. It doesn’t matter if it will destroy an economy, breach constitution and human rights, create oppression for a certain set of citizens. It doesn’t matter if the whole society loses out, if it prevents our children from guarantees of a safer, brighter or better future. It doesn’t matter if crime threatens a majority of the society, if endless promises are never kept, if things are tailored solely and only for political mileage and benefit. As long as we are able to curse the government or opposition from a political party standpoint, we claim we are “patriotic”… that’s how we claim to be “defending what’s right for Jamaica”. The proof of passive and part-time patriotism in Jamaica is evident when we look around and see how much we’ve descended into the depths of depravity.
We care which political party makes the right speeches, announcements, excuses and lies, and merely mumble and grumble at the blatant disregard for societal improvements. We appreciate hearing politicians jump wagons when the heat becomes unbearable and the right posturing, promises and positions are given. But we accept the rot as time goes by, waiting for another crisis for our “patriotism” to kick in gear. As long as we have an education, it doesn’t matter how many are illiterate. As long as we live behind secure walls and our families and friends are not directly affected, we don’t care how many are murdered daily. As long as we can afford private health care, we don’t care how many suffer. It took the murders of a dozen children in a short period if time for us to yet again focus on them as a high risk group, but if our children are OK, we don’t care. As long as we can afford to party and partake, we don’t care how much of the population is living below the poverty line.
We pass laws to gain political advantage or favour, but don’t care about the implications for the wider society. We spend on all the things we deem necessary, but no resources exist to fix the fundamental needs of the majority. We disregard national pride in the name of national development and call it “progress”. What’s the easiest way to mediate the malady? Have an Grand Gala or make the average man happy that weed is now his way out of abject poverty. Do we take pride in the high poverty levels, lack of opportunities, inability for the country to be as productive as we should be given all the “greatness” that exists? Merely making bail out statements on “how far we’ve come in spite of…” or the usual “it happens in big countries too and…” does very little or nothing to comfort me.
Return To Values
Look how we will turn out in our thousands to support political rallies all around the country, spare our last dollar and desire to show fanatic support locally and in voice from abroad. Look how many will show up every time there is a protest against murders of our children. How “patriotic” are we? Oh, THAT isn’t part of what we learnt it should be? We need to return to a place once regarded and respected, but now forgotten. The Jamaica where we wanted to see ALL Jamaicans access, afford, attain and accomplish the best. We need the Jamaica where we our neighbour’s welfare and that of his/her children is as important to us as our own. We need a Jamaica where we want every child equally safe, equally educated and equally given a chance to achieve greatness regardless of economic means or address. We need a collective philosophy that every man and woman has a chance at life instead of a minority riding the waves of success.
We need a Jamaica where we ALL understand that the more people cannot achieve the less the country will achieve. The political directorate must place more emphasis on achieving goals than polls. We the citizenry must clearly understand that patriotism is more than flag and name, it is rooted in the people and our ability to care for each other and help each other to collectively rise against the odds and in times of success. Anything less is less than true patriotism. By the way, in 2015, a country taking pride and glory in passing a litany of woe-filled IMF tests, is like a slave taking pride in cutting a field of the master’s cane. How patriotic is that?
By Rodney S. O. Campbell ©