Sat | Sep 22, 2018

The promise of things to come

Published:Monday | April 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

I recall watching a Walt Disney series called, The Promise Of Things To Come. They highlighted futuristic predictions based on the trajectory of global social and scientific advancements. The series was always entertaining and enlightening.

However, as a high-school teacher related his observations, primarily of the male population within the school, he also said that it was a promise of things to come (for Jamaica). His keen and astute observations resonated with my own serious concerns for the future of our nation so overrun by ineptness, indiscipline, politics, corruption, selfishness and dishonesty.

The high-school teacher stood on the first-storey balcony of his classroom block, gazing down at groups of recalcitrant schoolboys, that ought to be in class, as they lazily and nonchalantly meandered aimlessly around the schoolyard. They exhibited absolutely no interest in getting to their assigned classes; they only wanted to idle their time away.


School not worth it


To them, academics is an abstract inconvenience, a farcical dead-end pursuit, a total waste of time and effort, a sham that they tolerate and carry out until the system regurgitates them uninspired, unchanged, untrained, uneducated, unmanageable, unapologetically and unambivalently uncivilised, unable and unwilling to contribute positively to society.

The teacher was cognisant that reprimanding them risked his safety and reporting them to a principal, who perfunctorily orbits at the periphery of the issues impacting the school and who is terrified of parents, the ministry of education and of society, was a total waste of time. He gazed and, for a few moments, was lost in bewilderment because it is clear that Jamaica has lost at least two generations to toxic social pollution, precipitated by inept governance, and now we are nurturing another two generations with too many male malingerers, mendicants and malefactors.

Our tertiary institutions are still predominantly attended by females. Unfathered males marginalise themselves by subscribing to baseless, non-productive, machismo rubbish, and, in so doing, cause society to marginalise them even further. Most progressive females are, therefore, unable to find suitable companions. The subculture of itinerant rogue males trying a 'thing', anything to survive, their exploitation by our political system, 'econo-centric' entrepreneurs and/or the criminal underground have the ripple effect of fractured relationships, splintered families, a badly torn society and, of course, intractable crime.


No accountability


The examples set by most of our leaders are deplorable. 'Accountability' isn't even in the Jamaican lexicon any longer; it has been replaced by 'expedient'. 'Ah so di ting set' is a euphemistic phrase for ensconced corruption, and the legal system is so tedious, cumbersome, understaffed and hard to access at times, that a culture utilising alternative methods of 'justice' has emerged and is growing. Several facets of the Jamaican social environment are so hostile that negative socio-economic mutations are occurring right under our collective noses and we are yet to respond appropriately.

There are burgeoning problems at the tertiary level of education. Various universities are concentrating on the mass production of graduates solely for financial gain, sacrificing solidifying depth and proficiency. Saturated places of employment, oppressive fiscal austerity measures and the ubiquitous spectre of crime frustrate and scare away many of the people that we desperately need as future leaders. In order to survive, many abandon Jamaica for upward mobility opportunities available in (already) developed countries.

From the top to the bottom of society, from the inexperienced youth to seasoned veterans, in the private and in the public sectors, ominous signs indicate serious imminent social problems.

Yet, amazingly, successive administrations refuse to deal with the only real impediments to our socio-economic recovery - the terrible triad of ignorance, indiscipline and corruption. They are not that difficult to defeat. But, I guess keeping them alive and well leaves the door open for unethical people in authority to advance themselves economically and socially.

And, in the meantime, many concerned citizens who contribute positively to Jamaica can only watch helplessly and brace themselves for the promise of a dismal future.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and