Sun | Jun 26, 2022

Lascelve Graham | Jamaica’s hurdles: The ignorant, tribalists, manipulators

Published:Thursday | May 19, 2022 | 12:06 AM
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MY PREVIOUS article inadvertently, unexpectedly, acted as a sieve, a filter, a separator, an evaluation of the outcomes of our education/socialisation system. It disclosed that our education/socialisation system is producing intellect and skills...

MY PREVIOUS article inadvertently, unexpectedly, acted as a sieve, a filter, a separator, an evaluation of the outcomes of our education/socialisation system. It disclosed that our education/socialisation system is producing intellect and skills that can compete successfully at the highest level, anywhere in the world. We are producing persons who think critically, logically, objectively, unemotionally; persons who look below the surface. However, these are much too few. Dispassionate analysis is the realm only of the proverbial one per cent! Alas, too many are akin to, in the category of the fickle, fanatic football supporter who one minute declares, “Yu a di bes!” and shortly thereafter, when you have played a couple below par, games, “Yu nuh gud! Mi nuh si weh dem gi yu game fah. Di coach mus de wid yu madda!”

It did a very good job of bringing to the fore, some of the major obstacles mitigating against significant progress in Jamaica. Our education/socialisation system is producing too many of those who are uncritical in their thinking, emotional, and operate only on the surface. These are the ignorant, who don’t understand, or find it very difficult to grasp, what is going on around them, who are unconscious of the context within which they operate; the tribalists, partisans who follow blindly a given group (political, religious, gang, etc) line and become enraged at any deviation therefrom; and the manipulators, who use the ignorant and the tribalists to further their own causes.

It is my conclusion that Jamaica will not realise its full potential, will not free itself from the status quo which has haunted us since slavery, unless we have a great leader who acts in the best interest of the masses of the people. This leader, then, will have to possess certain characteristics which will allow him/her to successfully challenge the status quo, an extremely difficult undertaking indeed.

The article outlined some of the outstanding characteristics of great political leaders who had brought about major, significant, fundamental changes in their countries and examined actions of our prime minister in that context. The conclusion was that Prime Minister Andrew Holness had come up short, was found wanting in the areas examined, but that we needed to have hope that he would change, and that he was perhaps a late bloomer. Where there is life, there is hope.

HERO

However, I said that the prime minister was my “hero”. I admire all who have the courage and the tenacity to put themselves up for election, get elected, and decide to undertake the daunting task of governing a country like Jamaica, with all its pitfalls, deficiencies, needs, problems. My view is that once a leader has been elected by the citizens, then we should all fall in and give him/her our full support for as long as possible. As far as possible, we should see and treat him/her as the hero who is going to lead the way out of our travails and hence, give all the assistance we can. My hero may not be your hero. Many times our heroes disappoint, let us down. It happens every day in many areas of life. However, we should always examine, critically evaluate the actions of our heroes to determine how they are doing and whether they are living up to, and remain worthy of, the title. My big brother was my greatest hero, although many saw him as a very dangerous guy. However, at the end of the day, the titles with which he was associated are irrelevant. He will be judged by his deeds. The article indicated that Mr Holness had done things that were disappointing as a hero; he needs to improve, do better. But since he is still our leader, I am hoping that he is just a late bloomer, and hence we will see encouraging changes at a later date.

The word ‘hero’ was like a lightning rod, a red flag in front of a bull. It was like the perfect red herring which brought the ignorant and the tribalists out of the woodwork. It threw them completely off the trail. They were in a frenzy! They could not see beyond that and were completely blinded to the gist, the gravamen, the substance of the article, which was critical of Mr Holness. Listening to them, I would not be surprised if most did not even fully read the article, much less understand it.

The ignorant, the unconscious, unfortunately, are always with us. These are typified by the persons who go into an exam and leave, having written volumes, only to find that they have failed since they did not answer the question asked. They are vocal, usually extremely loud, with their decibel level having an inverse relationship to logic. They tend to press on, regardless, with the assurance of ignorance. It appears as if the politicians do all they can to keep them in their present state, and to ensure that they proliferate, since they are so malleable, easily manipulated. Hence the underdevelopment in areas like education and socialisation.

TRIBALISM

Of course, tribalism is nothing new to our people. We start learning, practising to be tribalists from early, from school, where the habit is inculcated, nourished, nurtured. We see it in the intense, win-at-at-all-costs, counterproductive sports competitions in our schools, which lead to heavy recruiting of sports talent by our educational institutions. This has led to the deflection of sports from being an educational, teaching tool at that level and in that context, to just raw competitiveness, as with clubs. This contributes to deficiencies in the educational/socialisation outcomes, as shown in our vulgarity, indiscipline, level of crime, etc.

The tribalists span all socio-economic groups of our society; and those on one side, along with the ignorant, who are most vocal, as is symptomatic of the empty-barrel syndrome, were upset with me for having given Mr Holness any credit at all, as was implied by the term ‘hero’. They would want to suggest that only a mother could love Mr Holness. Those on the other side lauded me for being in full accord with what Mr Holness is doing, as shown by my use of the term ‘hero’ and the fact that I compared him to great men. The outcome of that comparison is of no consequence, no relevance. The manipulators understand the article, but will express it in whatever way serves their purpose best.

Our educators keep being bogged down in the thick of thin things, distracted by endeavours like winning at sports. They are therefore unable to efficiently and effectively utilise their limited resources on their mission, which is the development of the academic, technical and vocational skills of our citizens, delivering quality education to all our children, while helping to socialise same. If there is no change in their approach, then Jamaica will continue with its current ratio, where it produces a few excellent products, but with the overwhelming majority needing rework.

Dr Lascelve ‘Muggy’ Graham is a former captain of the Jamaica senior football team. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.