Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Determinant optimism

Published:Thursday | November 21, 2019 | 12:06 AM


As I examine the history of Jamaica, I notice a shift from determinate optimism to indeterminate pessimism.

During the fight for independence in the 1940s, 1950s, the majority of the population was sure that if they took political control of Jamaica, things would be much better. This was demonstrated by the vigour and vitality of the nationalist movement.

By the 1970s, things had changed. Independence did not bring milk and honey to all. Life did improve, but people noticed that Jamaican replaced the British, but social stratification was similar to colonial times.

The rude boy developed as the breadwinner for many marginalised families. Politician and criminals had a relationship that was unnatural. The present crime and gang situation is an evolution of a people who were optimistic and believe that there is a definite formula for success.

Whatever a people believe becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because life is both determinant and indeterminant simultaneously: it is probabilistic. If you work hard towards a goal, there is a good chance you achieve. If you believe life is uncertain and hedge your bet, then by defusing your efforts, it become more uncertain.

Even Jamaican politician’s approach to development is pessimistic and indeterminant. It is not like Singapore, China or Israel where virtually everyone knows the plan and believe in its inevitable success.

Good leadership is about motivating others to commitment, but can a person do that if they are not dedicated (optimistic and certain)?

Brian Ellis Plummer