JaRistotle’s Jottings | Citizen Bhutto
Last week as I was sitting in my car in New Kingston waiting on the traffic light to change, I noticed a young lady standing on the sidewalk among other people, apparently waiting on a taxi. As one approached, she stepped forward and opened the front door to get in. She did not get much further. Out of nowhere, a man - an absolute 'bhutto' - pushed her out of the way and got in the taxi, much to the amusement of the driver and other witnesses. I was flabbergasted that such beastly behaviour could have taken place in public without anyone giving a damn.
General societal thinking suggests that the 'privileged' among us would be the ones who exude acceptable social graces and attitudes, while those who are not so well off would be the social pariahs. This is definitely not so, as many of the most polite, honest, dignified and empathic individuals I know are less than well off. Despite facing daunting life challenges, these folks are not 'bhuttos' because they choose not to be. 'Bhuttoism' is a personal choice.
On the other hand, it is an unfortunate reality that many Jamaicans who are born into wealth, or who rise to success and prominence are the finest examples of 'bhuttos' you can find. They dominate the business sector, parliament and elsewhere, but make no mistake, people, they are a part of our national fabric.
Where does this 'bhutto' mentality come from? The crass behaviour, the loud and vulgar utterances atypical of 'bhuttoism' did not engulf us overnight, but has got worse over the years simply because people can get away with it.
While growing up in the country, those labelled as 'bhuttos' invariably exemplified a rebellious nature, men with shirts not tucked into trousers, shoes without socks, hair not combed, and women in hot pants, but without the vulgarity.
Fast-forward to today: men wearing trousers with underwear showing, women in skimpy outfits which leave nothing to the imagination, and behaviour characterised by lewdness and crudeness.
PUT UP OR SHUT UP
With rights and privileges come responsibilities. Our political leaders promote that which people most readily want - rights and privileges - as a means to garner votes; however, they are failing us in that the associated responsibilities of citizenship are not equally promoted, encouraged or enforced. Truth be told, it does necessarily suit them to do so, in that an endearment to responsible behaviour does not garner votes, while some of them are 'bhuttos' and have no wish to change. They need to put up or shut up and make way for those who have the will to effect positive change.
As long as individuals believe that they can get away with something, they will likely act accordingly. If restrictions are placed on punishing wayward and obnoxious behaviour in schools, if no sanctions are applicable to parents who go to schools and abuse teachers, if it is acceptable for our leaders to behave in lewd and crude fashion in public, then where do we hope to go?
Nowadays, it is almost futile for the police to take a 'bhutto' to task. 'Bhuttoism' has no place in law and is not likely to 'hold water' in the courts, especially when we have the crime monster running amok. But dealing with the little things sends an important message to everyone: we will not tolerate that which is clearly unacceptable. So while 'bhuttoism' is not illegal, the associated carryings-on may be and are certainly not to be tolerated. Public vulgarity, obnoxious behaviour towards others and similar 'cruffism' which are the result of a 'don't-care, can't-touch-me attitude', must be arrested and the perpetrators sanctioned. We have more laws than dog have flea; we need to apply them.
Some people will recall the international brouhaha of a few years back when the authorities in Singapore flogged an American visitor for inappropriate use of chewing gum. Like it or not, everyone got the message.
While not advocating flogging, other publicly visible sanctions are appropriate for wholly unacceptable behaviour. Just imagine seeing that man who pushed the young lady aside doing community service dressed in a striking pink coverall; belittling, but the message would be clear. Justice would have been served.
Just say no ... to 'bhuttoism'.