Tue | Oct 19, 2021

Ronald Thwaites | Man free...

Published:Monday | September 20, 2021 | 12:07 AM

“So how Andrew fire Floyd but him no tell George Wright to resign?”asked the young lady caller from the diaspora last Wednesday. “Don’t lick down woman worse than keep lockdown day party?” You answer her for me, nuh. Floyd lost his job probably...

“So how Andrew fire Floyd but him no tell George Wright to resign?”asked the young lady caller from the diaspora last Wednesday. “Don’t lick down woman worse than keep lockdown day party?”

You answer her for me, nuh.

Floyd lost his job probably because he was inveighed by friends that lockdown restraints don’t really apply to the political directorate and it’s “Labourite time now” anyway. He is much too bright (and sensitive?) to have initiated the party idea himself.

After watching the video of the ‘Showa’ event (how do you disassociate that cry from Dudus anyway, and what does it mean?), the wry and thirsty minimum-wage security guard at the Heroes Circle ministry tells me him woulda glad for a Pepsi outa the same fridge the Moët and Hennessey did come from!

He wasn’t being envious; just stating the deep-seated conviction that political power in Jamaica means high living, probably at public cost too – if you can get past the hotel door.

Increasing tens of thousands of party supporters couldn’t find dinner last Tuesday night, pay the increased light bill or afford a taxi fare to the vaccination centre. This while some of us, sworn to uphold the public weal, have it in our minds to use political power and money to self-indulge. Man free, indeed!

What is happening? The whole country is in a terrible uproar... The Lord God calls you to repent, but instead you feast and drink.” (Exerpts from Isaiah, Ch 22.)

Contrast an ethic of simplicity versus political show-off. Coincident with the ‘R’ event, Angela Merkel ended her 16-year tenure as German chancellor with no big mansion on the hill, no privileges, no scandal, no maid, same apartment as before, same husband: together they cook and wash.

No fizz, just substance. Her style means she can rally her people to fight crime, COVID-19, ‘wutlissness’ and endemic under-productivity. Does our political culture have any such capacity?

MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM

To me, that’s a much bigger problem than breaching the lockdown regulations. As usual, we “strain the gnat and swallow the camel.” (Mathew 23:24.)

But “Man free!” You snarl. “’Low di yute. Ongle sorry him get ketch. Look how social media mash up man when dem jus doin dem ting. Unfair!”

Woman free, too. Watch the high-class, big-money ‘lady’ whining up her batty in the same video. Where are Desmond and Delroy to shout “Prassperty”?

Social virtues have gone missing from contemporary liberalism. Courage, compassion, humility, restraint and the fulfilment of our obligations to others are being sacrificed on the altar of a false notion that human rights means unfettered autonomy.

That is our big crisis. The social contract, which is the cornerstone of order, is fractured by the structured and intentional realities of religious indifference and distortion, a lack of trust and commitment; by cartelised capitalism (pun intended), classism and chronic inequality.

It is both frightening and pathetic to think that the harsher sentences which the police chief, in his desperation, seeks can really address the maladies which cause crime and social indifference.

Last week, too, soldiers who had fought with the puppet government in Afghanistan are pictured now finding common cause with the Taliban – teaching them how to use the inherited American weaponry.

Isn’t there a lesson for us here, in the midst of rampant anti-vaxism? Facing triple devastation from crime, the pandemic and ‘bruk-down’ schooling, who can argue against a more cooperative politics where the joined-up energies and capacities of the Jamaica Labour Party and People’s National Party help us craft a way forward – liberated from the selfish tribalism and mixed messages of the moment.

That’s something Edith would have stood for. Man can free for that, too!

Rev Ronald G. Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.