Sun | Sep 24, 2017

A blind man’s country

Published:Monday | February 15, 2016 | 2:00 AM

Once again, for the millionth time, change is in the air, and the politicians that we don't see often are walking, some bare-footed, through the impoverished areas of Jamaica, kissing the babies and hugging family members of murder victims, fighting back tears they know they don't have in order to 'CON-vince' the people that they care.

Once again, the majority of the poorer class are packing the buses and donning their colours, revelling in the excitement of the moment. The music that speaks to the plight of the poor that gets so much flak from politicians because of its origin is, ironically, on their playlists. The irony continues, as the same music is now their ghetto translator at rallies and conferences. This is like a rapist going to his victims playing an anti-rape song for them and getting their full support for his stance against rape.

The politicians, on both sides, make the same accusations against each other, questioning each other's competence and declaring the progress they've made, even if the opposite is obvious. They successfully project their flaws on to the other party in statements that seem to be a cut-and-paste or a duplicate of an original that was written way before I was born.

As usual, the reaction to the awful theatrics is disappointingly the same - people blowing horns pretending to understand or care about what's being said. They're there for the show. They're not interested in the details of the country's inner workings. They're oblivious to the reality that they hold the power and that it's they, the people, who employ the leaders to run the country.

They know absolutely nothing of what constitutes economic growth. They don't know or care about the operations of their country or their rights as Jamaican citizens. The harsh reality is, most people are ignorant and loving it. If people don't know what to want, how can they demand it? They view the electoral process as nothing more than a glorified soccer match.

Their whole lives are based on the instant gratification that comes from conflict or competition itself, rather than on any reason, objective or desire that inspired the conflict or competition in the first place.

Some would say it's because they're illiterate, but I see everyone, dunce and bright alike, out in full force. Whether some people are educated or not, they're culturally handicapped and ideologically impaired, as ignorant ideologies are worse than ignorance itself.

 

CONCERNED WITH APPEARANCES

 

We celebrate symbolic victories while ignoring the disciplines and education that make nations great. These ignorant people confuse excellence in sports and music with excellence in all other areas. They will celebrate having a Spelling Bee champion when they themselves cannot spell. They will call the prime minister the worst names for speaking to them in the native tongue, yet they don't understand a word when she speaks otherwise. They're more concerned about how things look than how they are.

They will make the biggest fuss about incidents like Minister Lisa Hanna's appearance in a two-piece bikini on a beach. They fuss about Everald Warmington dancing up a storm with a party supporter and myriad other trivial matters, compared to what needs our focus.

These are the people who see it fit to call out politicians on their social conduct rather than their social obligations and responsibilities. We must genuinely focus on the rebuilding of a once-great nation in shambles. We need to demand restoration of the nation's infrastructure vital to growth and development and prevent the possibility of the country being run like a Ponzi scheme, where we end up using one debt to pay another. We must demand the dismantling of the classism preventing progress.

Failure or success is up to us. Our greatest enemies are not those who choose to oppress us; it's we who choose to allow it. I'm very sure that if we seriously demand performance from our leaders, they will comply. But here we are, fighting their cause and giving them the power through our ignorance to fight against ours.

Politicians are human beings, hence their imperfections. They, like everyone else, will treat you how you allow them to treat you. If you earn their respect, you will get it, even after a stand-off.

Most of us just choose to back down after the first sign of curried goat, $3,000, and a bus with loud music. Again, when it's all said and done and the smoke clears, these cheerleaders will be the same ones crying foul and demanding red cards for their representatives who go missing after getting their approval.

The small minority of Jamaicans who are emancipated from this mental slavery are bewildered and confused, but not surprised, yet disappointed by this reality. Those of us who understand the full scope of the problem and truly want change suffer the indignity of being painted with the same broad brush and discarded in the same bin of everybody's ignorance.

- Patrick Gaynor, better known as Curly Lox of Twin of Twins fame, is a singer, songwriter, author and social activist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.