As a society, we have placed ourselves on a slippery slope which will end in mayhem and anarchy. I find what is happening all around me alarming. The lack of restraint in many areas of our nation's life has given me cause for great concern. This lack of restraint is far-reaching in its impact. Let's look at it.
There is insidious and widespread corruption in the public sector; bribery and chicanery have become a way of life. The police who are supposed to be the guardians of law and order are themselves working to destroy law and order. Our politicians are pointed at by many, as being participants in the corruption, whether by active involvement or by silent acquiescence. The church is now being fingered as exploiting those who come to them for solace - the children and the women, in particular. Churches are now being vandalised with impunity. In the schools, parents and children now see teachers as available targets of violence and abuse. The schoolroom where our young are educated is torn apart and robbed by thieves and criminals.
What is cast as our culture is now music and drama, which cater to our base instincts. We glorify the DJs who extol gun violence and portray our women as "beef" upon which their sexual appetites are engorged. These DJs now set the pace for the behaviour of our young people; they determine their mannerisms - which are usually crude and vulgar. They establish the dress code - which is excessive in 'bling' and scarce in decency.
ATMOSPHERE OF EXCESS
We have removed inhibitions and taboos, thinking that freedom is what we should aim for in all spheres of life. Yet, in every society, there has to be law and order and there has to be boundaries within which decent and civilised society operates. It seems that as a nation, our sexual cravings and our craving for bloodshed have been given full rein. Even the very young are being reared in this atmosphere of excess. As we look around us, we see three-year-olds wining and grinding as they imitate the sexual and erotic motions of the adults. This is described as 'dancing' and the adults stand by and cheer them on.
We extol erotic dancing to the point where it was put on display at the opening ceremony of the Cricket World Cup. The dancers' bottoms gyrating in the audience's faces was the major part of the anatomy that was projected in Sean Paul's performance. We have so endorsed this type of behaviour that we displayed it to over one billion persons on international television as a part of our culture.
Parents are now exposing their young to X-rated movies and pornographic maga-zines; mothers are using their sons as sexual partners; and, children in school are acting out what they are being exposed to in the society.
As a society, we have lost respect for life. Children are exposed to murder and bloodshed on a daily basis. They have become desensitised as a result of a surfeit of gore and killings.
In the classrooms, guns and knives are becoming commonplace. Children tell you that they need to defend themselves. Why? Because they are being killed for their cellphones! Babies are being murdered without reason. Old people are raped and murdered at an alarming rate. There is hardly a day when the newscast does not broadcast murder and bloodshed in our nation.
What type of people are we? We are a people who have cast off restraint - in which case, we cannot escape the consequences.
I note the decrease in the number of tourists arriving for this winter season. The reason given is the CARICOM visa requirement. Yet I believe that as our name as a nation falls into disrepute, we will find fewer persons willing to risk their lives by coming here. In addition, as Jamaicans, it is becoming more and more difficult to gain easy entrance into other nations, since we are seen as a murderous and undisciplined people. Immigration barriers are being created in various countries to stop our easy access into them.
Investors choose to go to other countries, because they do not have to contend with the high security costs that come with operating in Jamaica. They do not have to deal with the rampant indiscipline which characterises our society. We, as a people, need to take stock of where we are headed. We need to look at what has brought us to this point and halt the dangerous slide that we are on into mayhem.
The leaders of our society cannot continue as if it is business as usual, otherwise they will find themselves with an ungovernable nation. The infighting among the politicians needs to stop. Both sides need to work together on solutions for this nation.
Public and private-sector leaders need to set examples in how they operate in the affairs of the nation. The irresponsible behaviour which is exhibited in Parliament and at public functions must stop. They need to realise that they model for many of our people what is appropriate behaviour. When they use words recklessly to malign each other, they are spurring on the people to do the same. They need to realise that our people no longer just argue over differences, instead, many times, they are settled violently. Our people do not know that many of these politicians party together after they berate each other publicly.
There needs to be a change that begins from the top. Our leaders must begin this change, otherwise we will be left standing on our own in an increasingly globalised world. Shakespeare's words in King Lear seem applicable to us: "Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile; filths savour but themselves."
Soon, we will have just ourselves in our mayhem and anarchy.
Esther Tyson is principal of Ardenne High School in St. Andrew.