How did we get here and what needs to be done to get us out of here.”
United we stand, divided we fall.
That is a very old saying that we have heard for decades and is a favourite line for “old people”, but its such a true statement.
Jamaica will be 50 later this year, but Jamaica in my mind has lost at least forty years and really is only ten years old or less, because that is as much as we have grown as a nation despite our natural talent and vast resources.
Our currency has moved from J$1.00 to US$0.72 in 1972 to J$1.00 to US$0.01136 today in 2012. In the last 40 years our growth rate has been a measly 0.8% per annum and we have probably seen more periods of decline than any other country in the Western Hemisphere.
The big questions is why Jamaica has failed in such a big way since self governance and what is required to ensure that the country can grow and significantly higher levels over the next 10-18 years.
One can cite many reasons including corruption, ineptitude, poor planning, poor management and poor execution amongst the many things that have placed us in this very bad position. I would like however to focus on the divide amongst us and what I consider that to be most destruction element contributing to our failure. Now these are simple my opinion as I am sure many other persons will have their own views as to why Jamaica is failing so badly.
Division as defined by the Oxford dictionary: Separate or be separated into parts
United as defined by the Oxford dictionary: Concerned with, produced by, or resulting from mutual action.
Simply by looking at the meanings I selected, one can quickly identify a problem in Jamaica, which may be able to explain our failing.
We are represented by two political parties here in Jamaica and while the intention of these political parties when they were formed, was to work for and in the interest of the Jamaican people and would have been ” concerned about” the people and was to have generated a better Jamaica, resulting from mutual action, the end result has been, we have been separated into parts.
Why did Jamaicans allow the two political organizations to separate the country right down the middle? This is a question that I have been asked myself and have been asked by many non-Jamaicans, during my travels. Where did it all go wrong, what were the sequence of events that lead us down this treacherous and self-destructive path and how do we change the logical end of this behaviour. (Logical end means total failure of the system or failed state declaration)
I will use a sporting event to clearly outline how bad our political system has been and why it’s urgent that as a people, we demand certain changes to ensure a future for our children and grand children. I will choose two soccer teams as my example (most of us understand that game).
The intent of each team is to dominate the other team and crush them, if you can, by using skills, talent, coordination, planning, execution to plan and dirty or illegal tactics to ensure victory.
Even with the greatest skills and talent, there are persons on the various teams, who will employ dirty or illegal tactics to dominate their opponents while in the search for victory, and as such, we employ the services of a referee. The job of this independent body (who is ably assisted by his two lines me) is to ensure fair play according to the rules. Despite this fact many referees are called out as being unfair or partisan when a team loses a game then think they ought to have won. So just think of the chaos that would exist if there were no referee.
A team plays to win championship and along with that comes money, trophy and many goodies as rewards for victory. Before all this can occur, the teams’ employee coaches, managers and host of other persons, all working together to ensure that the team is adequately prepared for each match. The members of the team are required to show up on time for training and dedicate a specific amount each day preparing themselves for each match.
The parties is Jamaica are seen much like two football teams playing against each other and we all know how rough and violent that sport can be. Much like football we have provided each team (aka party) with team jerseys, flags, headband and all other sorts of team paraphernalia in specific team colours. What is missing from the Jamaican landscape however is the preparation for the members of the two parties for the big “game”.
Hooliganism tends to follow football probably more than any other sports, but not only that, I find that sports that involve teams colours tend to have this type of problem.
Take a look at cricket where all teams where a common colour, which happens to be white. That has changed slightly with the advent of different colours for the one-day and 20/20 teams, but the salient point is, rarely do you hear supporters of cricket team fighting with each other. (Ok India and Pakistan can be fanatical).
So given all of that, what’s the next step.
Education of the populace is going to be key, in removing this tribalism and antagonist attitude from our political landscape, but this is a long-term plan and not something that is going to get us where we need to be fast enough.
Starting right now we need to remove the party colours completely and I am not taking about the removal of green or orange flags on light post etc, no, much more fundamental than that.Political parties should only be allowed to use white or blue shirt on, which they would be free to print the picture of their candidate or party messages.
The only flags allowed to be flown would be the Jamaican flag, just like how we fly it with pride at the Olympics, football and many other sporting events. What you will therefore see on the campaign trail is the coming together of Jamaicans, who may carry different messages but the common theme being, how we are going to build a better Jamaica for Jamaican and its residents (yes we do have none Jamaican residents).
Making this move would in my mind have a profoundly positive impact the removal of the symbols of tribalism that is killing us literally. It’s a move that cost virtually nothing, but whose impact can be far reaching in a positive sense.
If we can get pass the party colours I truly believe we stand a much better chance of getting persons to work together on the rebuilding of Jamaica. Can you imagine persons leaving a political rally wearing white or blue tee shirts and waving the Jamaican flag, wow what a positive impact that would be. ( Wishful thinking or dreaming Jay)
Our literacy rate stands at 87.9 % , which is well below Barbados at 99.7% and Trinidad at 98.6%. Barbados has been rated as a developed state and Trinidad is well on its way to becoming a developed state and where is Jamaica.
Our leaders have set a target for developed state for Jamaica in the year 2030 and that plan was put in place by one political party around 2007. So our great leaders thought that given where we were in 2007 and based on what is required to get us to that stage, it would have taken us 23 years!
The plan is called vision 2030 and will ultimately fail because our leaders “forget” to get the people of Jamaica involved in the development of this vision, they have not sold it and so there are no “buyers”. This supports my view that as a country we are not only failing, but we are also planning for failure.
What is that single “thing” that binds us together as a people? I have spend days thinking about this, but could not come up with that one “thing” considering that the national flag, which ought to be the symbol of the nation was desecrated on a number of occasions by persons who were simply too dumb to think.
Sports, namely the performance of our Reggae Boyz and Athletics (Olympics and World Championships) have given us the opportunity to see the true Jamaican spirit on display, with Jamaican jumping and waving the Jamaican symbol in celebration of the achievements of our countrymen.
What that tells me, is the capacity exist for our people to get together, only this time we would not yet be celebrating, instead we would have been focused on the single goal of making Jamaican the pre-eminent country to work and live in by the year by 2030.
This require leaders who truly share the Jamaican vision and are willing to work with people of this country to ensure that this occurs by the given time line. Eighteen years is not a lot of time given the state we are in today, but if we take a child who was born today, then in 2030 he or she would have left high school, a highly educated youth either in the field of arts, sciences or with a technical and or vocational diploma.
I will develop this some more in subsequent post that that I will be presenting to the public via my blog.
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