Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Mark Wignall | Help! I need to be a child again

Published:Sunday | May 10, 2020 | 12:17 AM

Anderson High School senior Teyaja Jones (left) prepares to be photographed in her cap and gown and a bandanna face cover on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Texas’ stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has eased restrictions on many businesses that have now opened, but school buildings remain closed.
Anderson High School senior Teyaja Jones (left) prepares to be photographed in her cap and gown and a bandanna face cover on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Texas’ stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has eased restrictions on many businesses that have now opened, but school buildings remain closed.

Last Thursday morning, I went to visit my youngest grandchild, three-year-old Morgan. As she emerged from her bedroom with her tablet in hand and a scream on her lips then saw me and barged towards me, I knew that a full embrace was not going to happen.

She hugged my legs, and as we parted, we did the elbow thing. As I sat across from her in the living room and saw the innocence in her eyes, it occurred to me that we adults are having the hardest time in our lives.

It is more than likely that we are part of that draft of a history that, whether we know it or not, we are inextricably placed in the centre of living.

And, to tell you the truth, were I offered a choice of the past, the future, or a new dimension, I would opt for the past. It is, after all, the only certainty, the only destination we are sure of, and the pains and the pleasures of it are already stored in the material that made us into adults.

Like you, I know that the COVID-19 pandemic is real. But were I a child again, that would have been my parents’ problems. They would still provide me with shelter, clothing, education, and, of course, food – lots of it, as they once did, even in the hardest of times.

When my grandchild looked across at me and I remembered something I wrote more than a decade ago – “There’s a fairy tale in a story book and love in the eyes of a child” – it occurred to me that maybe I am a coward and I am buckling under the pressure.

When terrible storms blew, I was protected by my parents. When I fell and the bare hint of bleeding on a leg caused me to cry, they made everything okay a little bit later.

So, for now, I will indulge in that dream because not to do so will likely place me much too close to the reality of now.

PRESSURE GROWING

Pressure on this JLP administration is growing.

“If him don’t free we up by dis month, any number can play. We can only take so much pressure,” said Suzette, the owner of a five-station hair salon.

Most bar owners I know tell me that they agree with the Government’s basic actions in response to the reality of the COVID-19 horror. But in the last two weeks, many of them, I believe a majority, have begun to see in their minds that the lockdown is unsustainable.

Think about it. Right at this time, if one should weigh the views of those small-business people who believe the lockdown should be maintained against those who believe that the Holness Government is annoying them and causing them too much pain, it is my belief that the latter is in the majority.

At the beginning of January, the present JLP administration was in seventh heaven. At that time, a little thing was happening in Wuhan in China. In Jamaica, we had nuff time to ponder the political back-siding that would be the PNP’s sure electoral tent outside of the political cemetery gate.

We are barely past the first week of May 2020, and we are just below 500 COVID-19 cases. While I still believe that many of the adults in this Jamaican population are prepared to accept that the Holness-led JLP administration has been doing a reasonably good job in handling the COVID-19 crisis, it is also my belief that the political assumptions that we held in mid- to late last year, and even at the beginning of 2020, cannot be drawn up as a position that still has certainty in any political prediction.

After COVID-19, unpredictable destination.

Last Wednesday, a friend of mine telephoned me to announce that a bredrin of mine had died. I honestly did not know how to respond. It was about 40 minutes to 6 p.m., the beginning of curfew.

How is that dealt with now? Do I go to the house? Is there a new ceremony in not showing up but making it known?

Jamaicans are strong but troublesome people, especially if others try to corral us and direct our every action. We don’t perform too well under those conditions.

The JLP knows it. The PM knows it. The commissioner of police knows it. The education minister knows it. The leader of the opposition and just about every PNP MP know it.

Radically rewritten

At this time, the global affairs that were written in the middle of the 1950s are about to be radically rewritten, not because of a great crowding of skilled policymakers, experts in social reinvention, and a burst of entrepreneurs who are fully attuned to the empowerment of the ‘little man’ but because the moment will form the great restructuring.

If the undercurrent from the small-business bowels of Jamaica is any minuscule example of the immediate future, it would be almost criminal if our politicians and their technocrats are blind and deaf to the reality.

The dangerously confrontational support of opening the US economy by armed right-winger wannabe ‘soldiers’ in hotspots in the United States is also telling us that we can never take for granted that in any polity, a mix of abysmal leadership and nature in its madness cannot, in a seeming moment, upset all of the ideals that are taken for granted.

Many of our people are taken up with the place we are headed to that has no name and no postal number. We do not mind travelling on the road and facing the scary noises of the night. Some of us are settled into the times being uncertain and the food in the pantry getting smaller as the weeks wear on us.

Many of us can deal with that, even if we have to purchase more cornmeal than usual. More flour than our doctors recommend.

What troubles us is that unknown destination after COVID-19.

- Mark Wignall is a political and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com.