Sun | Sep 24, 2017

J’Aristotle’s Jottings | Backward syndromes and mentalities

Published:Thursday | April 27, 2017 | 4:00 AM

There are many positives going on for Jamaica and us Jamaicans: positives which can readily be dubbed 'best in the world', including our coffee, rum, marijuana, music, athletes, and yes, our beautiful ladies (not necessarily in that order).

Despite these positives, the harsh realities of crime, particularly gang violence, drug trafficking, lotto scamming and murders have left the country deeply scarred. Beneath these disfiguring scars are long-festering wounds, syndromes and mentalities which are the unfortunate underpinnings of our realities.

We have seven national heroes, but our celebrated folklore hero is the 'bandoolu' minded Brother Anansi. Unfortunately, 'Anansi-ism' has become a way of life for many Jamaicans. For them, it's all about beating the system, and if caught, them just 'salt'.

This kind of philosophy is non-progressive, and partners with other syndromes and mentalities to further erode our moral fibre and diminish our scope for progress.

 

VICTIM SYNDROME

 

Jamaicans are, in large part, the descendants of slaves. Not our fault, but many of us still see ourselves as victims and believe that the world owes us something in compensation. Reparations would be great, but don't hold your breath. Our former colonial masters have moved on, and don't give a flying fox about the issue, they have their own issues to deal with.

In a similar vein, others believe that the Government is responsible for alleviating their circumstances. Admittedly, poverty is a harsh reality in Jamaica. However, one's circumstances should not be an excuse to remain stagnant. We must be the masters of our own destiny. Become the proverbial fisherman, rather than the beggar who waits on the handout from the fisherman. Get over the victim syndrome and the 'freeness mentality' that this syndrome cultivates. Nothing in life is free.

 

'LICKEY-LICKEY' BEHAVIOUR

 

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to go to die. We want to be rich, but are not prepared to work for success: it must be like manna from above and fall into our laps. People, such stagnant thinking and behaviour allow others to 'bamboozle' you with non-progressive propaganda such as 'free education' and 'free health care', none of which is really free. It is pure poppycock.

Education is the key to emancipation from mental slavery, but it requires investment and sacrifice at every level, from governments to parents, teachers and students. So when the Government pumps $300 million into assisting university students who are facing challenges meeting fees and being barred from sitting exams, we should consider it an investment, not a handout. This investment must be married to appropriate conditions, especially payback.

These students must stop being cry-babies, get off their posteriors and find solutions to address their educational costs. In other countries where there is no freeness, students without the means have little choice but to earn as they learn. Jobs such as on-campus waiters, library assistants and the like are commonplace. But here in Jamaica, such menial jobs seem to be below them.

Universities, government, Students' Loan Bureau - you need to start thinking outside the box. Provide jobs in government agencies and on campus during holiday periods. Clear up the lagging paperwork, execute the transformation from paper to electronic storage. Let them experience the decency of self-dependence. Those who don't want to earn, get out of the benefits line. No handouts here.

 

SMALL MAN TIME

 

There is another festering mentality that I must speak to, that being the 'small man time' mentality. When someone who does not have the capacity to deliver on services, especially to prescribed standards, gets an opportunity simply on the basis of 'ah small man time now', stand by for the consequences. How do we justify giving a fishing licence to a man who has no boat, cannot swim or sail and let him loose to go and catch fish? And so it is with taxi concessions and government contracts literal feeding frenzies. Reckless rather than wreck less on the roads, substandard works and cost overruns on projects.

People, if you think and behave like Anansi, continue to be lickey-lickey and live in freeness land in 'small man time', without empowering yourselves, all you will get are scraps. You will never learn to fish or be masters of your own destiny.

I gone a work now.