Tue | Dec 18, 2018

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Freedom versus freeness

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM

We have all been 'schooled' on the brutal realities of slavery which, although long past, have left indelible scars upon our society to this day. Such scars are manifest in the largely angry tone of daily goings-on around us, by the manner in which things Jamaica evolve, ranging from our politics to inter-personal relationships to crime.

Our forefathers, who had to endure the brutalities of slavery, would no doubt have nurtured unfathomable resentment towards their oppressors, such resentment being manifested through open and hidden acts of physical, verbal and mental protest, and a longing for the day when they would be their own masters, free to walk as equals amongst all men and to determine their own destinies.

However, when 'freedom' finally came, they found that although they were legally free, they were still ensnared in a manipulative system, 'have-nots' remaining subservient to the 'haves', further fuelling their resentment.

Then came Independence, where our major achievement was to have swapped our colonial masters for two morally deficient political parties which would alternatively lead us on paths of continued subservience.

 

The more things change

 

We have been incessantly duped by our politicians into believing that freeness, the distribution of 'fish' without empowering people to fish for themselves, equates to the rights, privileges and freedoms that our forefathers yearned for. Freeness is all about nurturing the dependency of the lumpen proletariat, characterised by marginal education, misguided expectations and non-progressive attitudes.

Freeness provides politicians with the means to sell credibility, albeit spurious, and facilitates the sowing of seeds of division as a means of solidifying their hold on power: manipulating scarce resources among hostile tribes. We may as well have kept the colonialists in place.

This freeness, this 'three-card-ism', is sold as an inalienable right of access to benefits without the need to pay for such benefits. The lumpen have thus been culturized to believe that with the right vote benefits will fall upon them at no cost, like the proverbial manna from Heaven. The prospect of freeness has caused many a lumpen to jettison the need to honestly earn their keep and make a useful contribution to society. Freeness exacerbates lumpenism.

The promise of free rides having been married to votes, free-riding is better guaranteed by alignment to one party or the other, because governments of the day favour their supporters and pointedly ignore the misaligned and non-aligned.

When the freeness is in drought, the ignored lumpen are up the creek. Many use their situations as excuses to deviate from societal norms, becoming immersed in low-life behaviour as expressions of their anger, behaving like 'ole nayga' and engaging in 'bandoulu-ism' or worse.

The propensity for such ill-conceived attitudes is facilitated by our miserable record of enforcement and sanctioning, akin to further licensing of 'bhutto-ism'. Investigative policing is fallible, sanctions are laughable, and prison sentences make for family reunions. Where is the deterrent?

 

Cultivating the right attitude

 

If Jamaica is to become the place of choice to live, work and raise families, our politicians better know seh dem skulduggery strategy have fi change. We as a people better wise up. We need to understand and accept that rights, privileges and benefits come at a cost, whether social or economic, and through personal sacrifice. Nothing is free, no free manna nuh deh!

Freedom suggests equity, while freeness is aligned to the favoured and ferments division among the ignored. The dissolution of the freeness mentality will take some time, given how deeply etched it has become in the minds of many; but out the door it must go if we are to realise any meaningful adherence to societal norms. Freedom over freeness.

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