André Wright, Opinion Editor
Cho! My lighter just won't summon up the spark that could end the hullabaloo by burning every single national flag. I had planned to hire the round-the-clock truckers who stole the Trelawny beach to help me tear down the Jamaican flag from every pole and car antenna and start a bonfire that would make the London Olympic flame look like a candle.
That didn't work out. When I finally settled on the cost of petrol, Petrojam handed me a new sheet of paper with quadratic equations, calculus formulae and Venn diagrams explaining why prices had shot up for a ninth consecutive week. And since this isn't a boon year for CSEC math, I thought I wouldn't add to the already woeful statistics.
Pity I can't afford the petrol, because I would also have poured gas over all the strips of black, green and yellow (yup, gold is scarce; I even saw neon yellow-green) cloth still littering the city.
Calm down, o ye patriots! Don't all put me to the guillotine at once! I can see the education minister throwing his newly printed civics syllabus at me and flagellating me with one of his face-branded bookmarks. And Merrick Needham, master of protocol, must be going into an apoplectic seizure over my treasonous scheme.
HARD-ON FOR PATRIOTISM
I think we all took the Jamaica 50 celebrations a tad bit too seriously. Suddenly, everyone is getting a hard-on for patriotism. A year ago you could see tattered flags hoisted on various buildings, bleached by the searing sun and drenched by torrential rain. Symbolism meant nothing to us. We drove around town with shredded flags on our cars and didn't give a damn.
Then, we all became 'patriotic'. Phooey!
First, it was Glendon Harris, mayor of Montego Bay, who was accused of desecrating the 'flag' at his swearing-in ceremony. The Labourites were green with rage. Then Lambert Brown shot back at Charles Sinclair for having a 'thank-you' ad published with a too-green flag. On to the aquarium we went as the guppy, Raymond Pryce, had a whale of a confrontation with J.C. Hutchinson, who showed he had the eyes of a pressman and the ears of a trumpeter.
Ronnie Thwaites shared room with the national flag in his bookmark project, and now Paula Kerr-Jarrett, obviously suffering from a political version of early onset Alzheimer's, has followed suit. That's one way to create a political legacy and bank votes with the next generation.
It's not that I'm iconoclastic - and I'm not just hopping on the bandwagon of controversy to make headlines - but I believe too many Jamaicans have reduced national pride and patriotism to a piece of cloth with three colours slapped on.
Olympian Jessica Ennis celebrated winning the heptathlon with the Union Jack, her name sprawled across it. But the Brits didn't send her to the Tower of London. Mek Bolt di try dat with our sacred flag!
MORE THAN LOVE FOR FLAG
Real patriotism transcends the flag. And it goes beyond fastidious protocol censors losing sleep over 30,000 spectators in the National Stadium mangling the anthem with "Jamaica, BOOM! Jamaica, BOOM!" (Rowdy schoolboys become rowdy men.) Or getting into a tantrum over that couple in the cinema who are crunching on cheese-smothered nachos and slurping smoothies while the anthem is being played.
Real patriotism is grounded in giving your children a fair chance at school so they won't be a societal deficit. Real patriotism is about not 'dropping a money' to get a motor vehicle fitness certificate even though your car hasn't left your garage. It's about resisting the temptation to circumvent the system and corrupt public officials with 'chicken feed' in a brown paper bag.
Real patriotism is about giving a hard - and sometimes back-breaking - day's work instead of using telekinesis to will the hands of the clock round to 4 p.m., or whenever else. It's about mundane stuff such as paying your taxes and organising community-improvement projects, or profound sacrifices like having your face blown off, as happened to JDF Private Maurice Green in Dudus' last stand.
Hoisting the flag from your business place isn't necessarily patriotic. Clanging pot covers in Half-Way Tree Square isn't patriotic. Singing Festival songs and wearing gold at Grand Gala in the National Stadium isn't patriotic.
Maybe the flag shouldn't touch the ground. And it shouldn't be exposed to the elements day in, day out, without being taken down and neatly put away; but there are bigger problems that strike at the foundations of the Jamaican state.
Don't get me wrong. I stand up in Carib cinema when the anthem is played before the movie. But I'm not a member of the anthem Taliban. I'm so patriotic I wouldn't even take one of those YELLOW-striped flags for free. But I'm not a flag fundamentalist. If I were, the next time I saw a bootylicious babe wearing a flag-emblazoned bikini bottom, I'd do my duty for my country and rip it off her. Now that's what I call a hard-on for patriotism.
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