Thu | Jan 21, 2021

George Garwood | The more things change, the more they remain the same

Published:Friday | May 31, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Dr Alfred Dawes’ article ‘Links to Trump’ in The Sunday Gleaner (May 26, 2019) about Jamaica’s culture, basically says our culture holds us back with its endemic corruption and so forth. So that makes Jamaicans ‘inferior’, he posits in relationship, say, to many other cultures. I suspect he is thinking, for example, of European, Asian or North American ones.

Of course, Jamaicans are not necessarily inferior; for this notion of inferiority is being gauged, say, by the standards of significant European and Asian nations in respect of the arts, science, technology, literature, health statistics, crime figures, economic output, etc. But, it would be wrong to use only those standards to assess our own Jamaican achievements or lack of them.

Jamaicans in their own rights have some credentials in superiority. She has produced some very distinguished scholars, artists, musicians, sports personalities, and so on. So in comparison, say, to some Latin and Caribbean countries, Jamaica, based on certain measurable criteria, is ‘superior’ to some of those other countries.

But, yes, there are myriads of self-inflicted problems: social, economic, political and governmental maladministrations. These problems, indeed, have their origins in Jamaica’s culture. But this culture has been profoundly shaped by our history: say, slavery, colonialism, and in modern times, by political tribalism.

Despite these significant negatives, at the same time there are strengths. But Jamaica, in relationship to any other nation, is not necessarily afflicted by an inferiority personality, as if Jamaicans have some diminished moral and intellectual capacities; in short, low IQs. Not at all!

SUPERIORITY COMPLEX

But rather, Jamaica’s problem lays not in inferiority, but in a superiority complex. Examples of this superiority mentality are seen in many of the half-finished, and never-to-be-finished mansions that are perched on hilltops. Mansions that have the appearance of hotels, perhaps, with a dozen or more rooms intended for two or three people. Each room has its own bathroom with fittings of gold-plated taps, showerheads and faucets; but the conduits for bringing water into these fixtures are often devoid of that substance.

Look at the well-appointed, gated communities and the plantation-styled, all-inclusive hotels in Jamaica; yet, nestling not too far from them are squalid habitations of the poor and needy.

So it’s not an inferiority syndrome that afflicts Jamaicans, but a mentality that borders on illusions of grandeur: ginnalship, Brer Anancyism, where, indeed, the maximum monetary compensations are demanded for the minimum of physical or mental effort or honest work.

Can Jamaicans eventually put that counterproductive lifestyle behind them and aspire to realise their undoubted potential?

Well, based on Dr Dawes’ account, there is little or no chance of this occurring soon; for, the more things change, the more they remain the same. But we must remain hopeful.

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