His mother died when he was 10 years old. Homeless at age 18 Harold had just started high school. He had never met his father. Two of his 18 siblings, he subsequently discovered, also entered the world by two other baby mothers the month he was born.
So familiar and prevalent a custom, regardless of the education, religion, or social stature, of the irresponsible, sperm donating, seed planting, evanescent Jamaican male. Many Jamaican women absolve themselves, denying any complicity, in this oft repeated weighty gaffe. Innocence, lack of experience, overwhelming economic demands, desire for security and companionship, being honest and trusting account for the howler.
Socialisation, a wretched curse, or irrepressible channel to success?
Harold had a choice. Accept he was worthless, discarded, unwanted and doomed to failure. Or achieve the unthinkable relative to his insurmountable odds. Should he drift into the prevalent, inviting, gang culture that beckoned his city ilk? That option should provide comradeship, allow for generation of easy wealth, offer emotional support, and assuage his loneliness. Lacking parental guidance Harold reasoned within himself.
Look whaapen to di bwoy dem wheh tek up di gang life. Trevor, he was stabbed to death at 19. Skimmer him dead, get 10 bullet inna him head and him barely reach 21. Lazy bwoy missing since him was 17 years old. Charmaine, she going on har fifth baby and she dis tun 18. Conclusion, the gang life offers false transient and only miserable success. He wondered how the gangsters could not plainly see what was so clear to him. Live fast, die fast; easy come easy go. What was so overpowering that made entering a gang the only meaningful option?
Harold decided. He had been eyeing Cathy, the most beautiful girl in his class, nay the whol world, for some time. She was going places. A homeless boy barely stood a chance. For a gangster there was no opening with her, not a chance in hell! She was from an uptight family. Ambitious. And it was already hard for him to get her attention based on his circumstances. He was going to have to lift his game. He was determined to bring the A game he imbibed from dreams and dreaming. Eye catching clean shoes and clothes. Exemplary discourse and conduct. Ah yes, and top of the class ranking. He made sure Cathy noticed. Then he deployed his plan to also get her mom to acknowledge he was top class, ambitious, and going places.
PhD in hand Harold confided to his wife Cathy he was still stung by the total absence of his father in his life. Having his own successful family and accomplished children who had achieved their own set goals did not ease his pain and unending deep hurt from being fatherless.
He still recoiled at not having his father present while being recognised at school for outstanding academic accomplishments and being an exceptional leader. He was conflicted at graduations including from high school and his PhD training since he had no biological father present with whom to share his success. Even though he was an extremely successful and accomplished adult he yearned to have his father engaged in his life. His multiple, educational, trips to far flung countries across the globe did not fill the emptiness. Being a successful mentor to many accomplished young men and woman still failed to completely satisfy.
With his wife’s collusion Harold hatched and executed a life changing intervention. Overcome by his son’s continued kindness and insatiable desire to bond, Harold’s father acknowledged the enormous emotional toll his absence and callous behaviour had caused his son. By the time of his father’s death years later they had become inseparable, and best friends.
Citizen’s expectation of stretching out hand to get government handouts is misguided
Some Jamaicans divorce themselves from the effects of their own conduct and decisions, and the potential impact on their life’s outcome. These Jamaicans typically, vociferously, attribute all their life challenges to political leaders or others.
Government they claim, should alleviate any challenges facing them, financial or otherwise. They conveniently ignore the reality that in hard economic times the government may be facing significant monetary constraints. Many persons attribute all life difficulties to the economic and social situation at their birth, or during their upbringing. Being born in poverty they vehemently believe there is no other viable option to navigating, managing life. Heaping scorn on those who may attempt to offer an alternate path to success, and out of poverty, they remain glued to the uncomfortable harsh reality the know, unmovable. Desiring to eat fish they do not believe any should disrespect them by offering tips on how to fish. And consider it gross blasphemy should they be advised not to expect to eat fish.
Michael Manley when Prime Minster of Jamaica introduced a widely popular program which paid for high school expenses, and covered tuition, board, lodging, and meals at tertiary institutions. Astute, poor Jamaican’s benefited enormously, and were able to meaningfully change their economic situation by maximally engaging that innovative, costly, investment in human infrastructure. Unfortunately, the program was unsustainable because of its huge, crippling impact on the Jamaican economy.
Andrew Holness and Mark Golding did not cause COVID-19 and the loss of Jamaican jobs
It is reasonable to speculate that Prime Minister Andrew Holness like Manley, if only for political gamesmanship, is itching to give ordinary suffering Jamaicans a handout, an economic lifeline, during these difficult times.
Suave politician as he is economic realities and lessons from the Michael Manley era are no doubt reality checking, and likely influencing his decision making. Deciding how much movement of people to allow, while facilitating commerce, as much normal day to day conduct as possible, and yet at the same time stymie the spread of COVID-19 is a difficult tight rope act.
Jamaicans will bellyache, pretending to know best how to avert the many COVID-19 challenges, and yet fail to in unison encourage their neighbours and friends to be vaccinated as soon as possible so the pandemic’s impact can be minimised and become history.
Mr. Holness did not create the difficult economic and life situations into which so many find themselves. Despite his best efforts many will invest all their energies to ensure he cannot extricate them from their current dire straits. The opposition leader Mark Golding may be quietly wondering how he would have appeased the demands of suffering Jamaicans in these times that try men’s souls were he holding the reins as Prime Minister. Most can only speculate on those quiet, confidential thoughts.
Harold despite his difficult, parent-less circumstance made tough wise decisions. He recognised squatting, fathering children because he had the sperms but not taking care of them, persisting in failed family traditions, and succumbing to hopelessness was fodder for failure.
His attitude towards goal setting, hard work, developing positive attitudes, and a forgiving spirit catapulted his success. There is hope for many to whom life has offered nothing but challenges and disappointment. Hope is the cord connecting ambition to success and hope can catapult one from despair to greatness.
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