A. Dean M. Forsythe | A lesson in humility
Deep orations like the one so eruditely crafted and so brilliantly delivered by the Rev Dr Burchell Taylor at this year's National Leadership Prayer Breakfast do not get the necessary types of 'forwards' unless they contain at least one sound bite or controversial statement. It matters not that the distraction does not have anything to do with the gravamen of the presentation; we are a people of histrionics. We, the overentertained and overadvertised, take real pleasure in majoring in the minors.
Dr Taylor's appropriate presentation on humility is, indeed, the panacea that can rid our country of the high rates of crime and violence. In only 27 days, we have succeeded in murdering approximately 100 fellow Jamaicans, and what is alarming is that we operate as if it's business as usual. No outcry from citizenry, rights groups, the Church, Government or Opposition. No one. We have got acclimatised to this scourge. It is as if murder is a new norm.
But not all of us are comfortable with this new norm. Some of us are becoming nervous wrecks. We cringe and worry every time we hear of another killing. So I decided to research the most non-violent country worldwide to see what they have been doing right.
In my research, I came across a study done by an American, Andrew Clark, who lived in Iceland, to find out the reasons that that country is the most non-violent. He discovered, among other things, that although Iceland is awash with guns, it has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world.
Further analysis of the modus operandi of the natives reveals a similarity to Dr Taylor's recommendation: humility. In Clark's study, only 1.1 per cent of Icelanders identified themselves as upper class, while 1.5 per cent saw themselves as lower class. The remaining 97 per cent identified themselves as upper-middle class, lower-middle class, or working class. Could this ever happen in Jamaica where the 'upper class' is so clannish and exclusive and to be 'poor and boasy' is a traditional norm?
Listen to Dr Taylor: "We need to develop an abiding commitment to develop and display thoughtful maturity in our ways and dealings. A bishop, CEO, ambassador, MP or other top-ranking official is no greater in personhood than anybody else, but is just more accountable on the job than anyone else because he is saddled with more responsibility than all others."
He continues: "The cooperative effort that it will take to develop a just and compassionate society will be severely hampered if we foster a setting which allows for some people to think too highly of themselves and we cause others to think too lowly of themselves."
"... Signs of this are always indicators of a society in trouble. They feed the tendencies towards authoritarianism, oppression, exploitation, discrimination and exclusion. They breed feelings of anger, resentment and bitterness.
"... The world scoffs at it [humility], with its own lack of it. It very much prefers self-glorification, subtle or unsubtle. It promotes name recognition and judges by its own rating agencies and measures. It encourages advancing at the expense of others, rather than together in the interest of the common good."
"... The world encourages advancing at the expense of others, rather than together in the interest of the common good."
"... We are all persons created by God and in the image of God, and, as such, possess inestimable worth and dignity and are, therefore, deserving of respect irrespective of how we are, what we do, or where we serve in society."
So will we ever get to that point, where we are humble enough to be absolutely respectful and respectable irrespective of the situation?
Can we begin a pilgrimage to humility and classlessness, where, as in Iceland, the tycoon's children go to school with the other children?