Garth Rattray, Columnist
I think that on Heroes Day, when we celebrate our seven national heroes and pay homage to the recipients of National Honours and Awards, one can't help but reminisce about how we have done when it comes to nation building.
Judging our successes and/or failures depends on which side of the socio-economic-political divide one sits. However, there are some objective parameters by which we can look at our efforts.
We can only build our nation if we have a homogeneous society or one that is almost homogeneous. No nation can grow with a heterogeneous people widely divided by education, culture, economics, geography, language and politics. I'm no sociologist, nor am I an anthropologist, but the signs of what we are doing wrong seem very obvious to me. Here are a few things that we can do if we do not want to build our nation.
Politics: Start by dividing our people along political lines. Only reward those who support you. Give them handouts of cash and/or kind, job opportunities and favours. Make the poor dependent, house them according to their political affiliation, and arm some to 'defend' themselves and to suppress the upstarts and insurgents from the 'other side'.
Assign colours and hand signs and make certain that these are taken extremely seriously. So seriously that anyone appearing to be from the wrong 'persuasion' will be ridiculed, or worse.
Education: Segregate our primary and secondary schools. Make it so that children will be separated depending on whose parents have the ability to dedicate time and effort to assisting with continuing the tutoring of their children way into the night. Make it so that only those parents who can afford extra lessons for just about every subject will have the best chance of getting their child or children placed in the more successful secondary schools.
Language: Since we know that a common language assures proper communication and reduces social prejudices, encourage the populace, especially the least educated, to make the unique Jamaican 'language' (formerly known as our Jamaican dialect) their means of verbal communication.
This will most likely ensure that a subset of our population will never rise above a certain station in life, that they will always be judged by their utterances and that, although the world is contracting as rapidly as new communication devices are being manufactured, they will find it extremely difficult to communicate effectively on an international level.
Economics: For the sake of politics and social networking, make certain that you never rock the economic boat. Maintain the status quo. Continue allowing the many merchants (businesses and individuals), who do not earn any foreign exchange yet utilise massive amounts of foreign exchange (earned by only a few), to continue importing any and everything for retailing.
Go ahead and levy ponderous taxes in local currency. Fool yourself that the taxes represent real economic growth. Don't put every possible effort imaginable into securing multiple sources of foreign revenue.
Communities: Turn a blind eye to our swelling squatter communities and inner-city fiefdoms. Do your best to tiptoe around them because they are the ones who come out to your political rallies and who will and must vote (because sometimes their lives and livelihood depend on it). Leave them to govern themselves, to their own devices and allow them to incubate as many antisocial, angry and violent souls as possible. Only intervene when things get out of hand and multiple lives are lost, or if the violence spills over into 'civil society'.
Those are just a few pointers on how not to build a nation. I wonder if anyone will ever love this country enough and have the gumption to risk their self-actualisation goals and their political party's popularity to take the necessary steps to turn things around for the sake of our little nation.
Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.