Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Jamaica: the enthralling contradiction

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:19 AM


It is a curious paradox that while a letter appearing in The Gleaner titled ‘Blessed by warm Jamaican welcome’ seemed to have extolled the virtues and warmth of the Jamaican people, which is generally true, the very Gleaner is reporting a few hours later on ‘Street filled with trembling as 4 chopped to death in Kingston’.

It is almost like being on a sinking ship where, while the passengers on the balcony and public deck are enjoying the view and singing praises of the wonders of the experience, those in the lower cabin are busy punching holes in the sides of the ship as water gushes in. Same ship, in tumultuous waters, but contrasting experiences.

Maybe there is a conditioning that defines paradise as a necessary partner of evil – or someone thinks a tourist will find a beautiful Caribbean destination more attractive when served up with risky adventures or numbers of hideous murders just to keep the adrenaline pumping. If that is the view, there is no better way to shoot oneself in the foot or cut the nose off to spite the face if independence exists in whole and not in fractions.

The usual casual expression “No problem, mon!” while Rome burns, fits ideally with this sense of autonomy and detached individualism. It is a strange and abiding paradox that sees ghastly murders featuring in places of recreation and entertainment, such as parties and dances – often the very reverse to their intended goals: two opposite and competing realities that deface its own appeal.