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Brian-Paul Welsh | Don't dwell on it

Published:Monday | January 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Some of the best advice I've received in relation to how one should cope with life in Jamaica and our increasingly sad state of affairs was simply not to dwell on it. But how can one reside in a country and not dwell on it?

Upon contemplation, it occurred to me that though we are largely confined to the same general geographic coordinates on this former slave plantation called Jamaica, a number of those among us are able to live completely divergent realities, deliberately disconnected from the hubbub of the noisy news market, and domicile to a country of their own inception.

It might be surprising to learn that some Jamaicans born and raised in St Andrew have never had occasion to venture beyond Waterloo Road; and likewise some Jamaicans born and raised in Kingston have never been further afield than Half-Way Tree.

This insulation, whether through privilege or the misfortune of poor circumstances, informs their point of view, the perceptual lens through which this nation is experienced. As such, when this week's routinely bizarre news item began making the regular rounds, I yearned to escape the Orwellian Jamrock in which I so often find myself, and sought mental refuge on Harry Belafonte's island in the sun, the paradise of folklore we frequently glimpse with secret envy on the social pages during the season of frolic.

The level of cognitive dissociation required to exist as effortlessly as the groovy swing of a '50s calypso in the contemporary 'buguyaga' reality must certainly be costly, and, for me, it was a rather expensive lesson, but while in those clouds of excess, I understood why aloofness is the modus operandi of those privileged enough to have had exposure to mental gymnastics and the other fine things in life. In that world, everything is irie, mon!

I have a friend who possesses the most enviable level of obliviousness with respect to Jamaican current affairs. As I watch her flitting about town bouncing to her own rhythm, I know she's not the least bit concerned with whatever bloody pound of flesh has baited this week's news frenzy. How she is able to move about so effortlessly in these dreadful times might either be evidence of madness or perhaps demonstrative of her ability to not dwell on the many things of bother in these intensely bothering times.




This uncanny ability, some call it a sociopathic tendency, has been typical of politicians, socialites, and those of similar ilk for a very long time in Jamaica. That is surely the only way they can remain functional while merrily presiding over a system with such evident failures.

Last week brought news that nurses are walking off their jobs in droves, fed up with the empty promises of prosperity, and determined more than ever to graze in greener northern pastures. This unsettling image, reflective of a swelling undercurrent of discontent, is unperceivable by members of the so-called intelligentsia, known for their frequent idle prostration on uptown's virtual verandah, and who are probably at this very moment embroiled in yet another nightly tizzy over some juicy rubbish.

Those jumping bandwagons, swinging from left to right, clueless to the groundswell of grief, are among other diversions we frequently engage in, perhaps to break the monotony of our incessant despair.

With the latest police commissioner beating a hasty retreat from the hefty crime monster and bets already being placed on the likely tenure of his replacement, we can now freely observe the way we continue to place great expectations on ineffectual leadership in anticipation of new and improved results. This, among other peculiar habits, continuously stunt our advancement, yet we habitually shift our focus to the frivolous and self-serving.

Lately, perhaps in response to king capitalist's ascent to the iron throne, the sycophants and elephants have picked up the increasingly vulgar habit of trumpeting for key people to be fired in order to herald the beginning of a supposedly new era and the end of the past age. They huff and they puff with incendiary rhetoric, making mischief in furtherance of their selfish agenda, unable to recognise the damaging effect of this inherited destabilisation agenda.

In this new year of possibilities, it has already become clear that we must shed some of our old habits and give way to new operational frameworks in order for our society to prosper. We cannot dream of a future Jamaica while dwelling on the ways of the past.

- Brian-Paul Welsh is a writer and public affairs commentator. Email feedback to and