Let us go back to our roots
WHAT ARE we doing in life? Where is Jamaica heading? What is our model? What do I want?
If we yield to our passions, we are not able to find the truth. Our passions blind us. Over and over, I see it in our daily lives. Men and women come to us in the ghetto, as well as in the more comfortable areas. They do not know where they are going. Their lives are unravelling.
Driven by false ideals fed to us by the media rather than by the deep-seated desires that are in our souls, we lose our way.
We live in strange times. How can we be centred? What are our ideals? Everybody seems to be on his own.
Is it to achieve wealth, fame, power, position, education, freedom to do whatever I want in life? When every man or woman is out for himself or herself, we have a world or society of egotists. Like atoms, as Spinoza the philosopher says, we hit against each other. We do not work together for a common ideal.
The highest achievement in life - at all costs, whether it be at a personal cost or the cost of others - becomes a way of life. Whether it be from the best in the medical world, the greatest amount of pleasure, the most expensive food and restaurants, the companionship of the most renown people, the greatest fame, to be the richest of the rich, to be the most beautiful or the most handsome: it's what our world, our island, and our people seem to want.
It's all emptiness and vanity, and we all know this from the depths of our soul. As St John says, "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God lives for ever."
Where are we going? Men and women work and there is no one to foster the children. The children are abandoned to the Internet, television, movies, and iPads. All of them are value-free, except for the material goods and pleasures of the world. Our children are taught by impersonal faces that want to market to our appetites, whether it be pride, lust, covetousness, jealousy, envy, anger or sloth.
Jamaica is lost in this modern world of secular materialism. We cannot compete. Our children cannot have what North America and Europe possess. We are told, however, and falsely informed that we can.
We are not progressive, we are told that we are backward. Jamaica is haunted by the ghetto poverty - with its culture of violence, alienation, vexation and lawlessness, we are an abandoned people which leads to a subtle despair. No one cares about himself or others, which leads to loneliness, despair and homelessness so rampant in our island. We are an angry people. It would have been better for us to be a peaceful, peasant poor.
On the other hand, there is the spectre of human, goodwill, joy and true culture - which seems to be dying away.
There is God, there is the word of God, there is the love of God, and then there is the love of neighbour and a genuine love of country, which are fundamentals in true culture.
But today, there is a constant assault of atheism, a sense of nothingness and despair that is becoming more and more prevalent in our young people - lost in their identity - as to what they are and should be.
In the depths of our people (and in all people), there is the everlasting love of God and our fellowmen. But it is being challenged by unchallenged materialism. Our people are simple people with great depth. They are ready to work hard, do simple things, till the soil, and build a little house and family. God is still in their hearts and minds and souls - the riches of the richest of values a man or woman or child can have! We must protect that.
God is with us
In other words, the reality of the soul of man is still embedded in our culture. Jamaicans are a people cultivated by God and their relationship to Him. It is why we love our neighbour, the result of that love of God. It is why we are a truly beautiful people. Listen to our songs and our laughter! Look at the depths with which we do this. We must go back to our roots, and grow from the foundation of our Christian faith towards the future.
To be a true Jamaican, we must be simple, humble, deep, wise - with the best of humanity - not sophisticated and empty, worldly and "with loud boasts of folly, which entice us with sensual passions of the flesh who live in error." (2 Peter 2:18).
Let us go forward with who we are, rather than being who we are not. Jamaicans are a sensible people. Let us not throw out God for mammon, and spirit for the flesh.
- Father Ho Lung is founder of Missionaries of the Poor. Send feedback to email@example.com.