Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jamaica is a Place, Not a Society

A commentator's view of Jamaica's social disorder:

The economic problems that we face are just one side of a horrible equation of imbalance in the society. One is convinced that even if we should, by some miracle, cause our economic problems to evapaorate, we would still be in a terrible bind because our economic problems are just a symptom of a far more pernicious disease that is eating away at the fabric of the society.

To begin with, we have not even begun philosophically to understand what being a nation is all about. We are thrown together on a piece of real estate about 4,411 square miles large. In the main, we hold to a common ancestry of slavery. Outside of a sporadic burst of pride that comes when our athletes perform brilliantly abroad, or when necessity forces us together in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, there is no patriotic fervour or loyalty that binds us together as a people.

There is no unifying vision around which we can organise to build a viable society. We hypocritically trumpet the cliché that we are our brothers' keepers, but deep down it is everyone for himself when the crunch time comes. We talk about justice, but we know deep down that justice is selective and can be bought if you have the right amount of cash. The ordinary man in the street knows that justice is divisible, that there is a justice for the rich and one for the poor and vulnerable. Often he can only get his version of it when he takes matters into his own hands by using his own version of mob justice.

At a time when we should be pulling together, we are more fractured than we have ever been as a society

1 comment:

  1. Suddenly, religious extremism begins to look more like an investment and less like a pointless expenditure of effort and resources.

    Bear in mind that the Mondragon Co-op was started by a priest, not by a racial theorist or a socialist utopian.

    On the web I read: 'There are more churches in Jamaica per square metre than anywhere else in the Caribbean. Jamaica's religion is Christianity but there are many religious denominations including one that is unique to Jamaica, Rastafarianism.'

    Other sources claim that since 1503, the dominant religion of Jamaica has been voodoo. But voodoo is IMHO syncretistic. Quite a bit of it could be considered Christian magic. For that matters, I have seen Catholics who carry around reliquaries containing the blood of saints; there are Jews who sacrifice chickens to cast out sin. Spells and blood sacrifices are not incompatible with sophisticated religion.

    Would a state religion, Rastafarian Christianity, celebrated with daily voodoo spells, talismans, etc., be able to unify Jamaica in a billowing cloud of ganja smoke? If they all simply agreed to get stoned and stay that way, would they feel any more camaraderie?