Labrish!

MISSION JA

Walk into any Government office and – hopefully – you should see the Mission Statement prominently displayed for those who care to read it. Ditto for private sector entities that consider themselves “enlightened” and at least want to state, if not actively create the kind of culture they wish to have their employees understand that they have come into and should help build and maintain. Many schools have likewise articulated their mission. So do many families and individuals. Where these mission statements exist, they are periodically reviewed and upgraded.

Question? Into what larger mission do these missions fit? What broader vision is being pursued? The answer is not Vision 2030. The answer is that maybe we have not found it yet. We know we have strayed from “it” when someone, like Kartel’s mother, is quoted as saying “such and such did not fall out of the sky” when we try to find reason in a behaviour to which we think the rest of us do not subscribe. We really mean to say the aberrant behaviour is something learnt from and modelled by other individuals around them.

What then are the means by which we learn what is Vision/Mission Jamaica? How do our children know what kind of culture they have come into and  how they are expected to maintain it, build on it or challenge those aspects of it which are irrelevant, archaic or no longer applicable?

The statement reportedly attributed to Kartel’s mother is correct on many levels. We cannot raise healthy individuals in a society that is largely unhealthy, where the body parts are at war with each other. Students in the most orderly school where they are made to take turns, show respect etc are likely to be unable to maintain such conduct when the bus with a capacity for 20 persons pulls up at the stop with 200 children wanting to get home. A young female on that bus is likely to feel powerless, confused by the adult bus driver or conductor who “compliments” her on being “sexy” rather than encourage her to achieve her maximum academically.

The woman who was carried on television saying that Kartel should get off because is not a “uptown” person he was accused of killing is subscribing to the notion that we are not from Mars. We live in a society where all lives are not valued. The economically disenfranchised, the socially marginalised and the politically disempowered have internalised that their lives are among the most worthless. It matters little how they live and suffer, less how they die.

Where is the statement of Vision/Mission JA that will raise us differently, that will at least inform us of a direction so that we know when we have gone off track or so that when we make that deliberate decision to chart a different course we cannot say we “never did know”?

If the Mission is to be a “developed first world country” we have it – murder and mayhem, rampant materialism, corruption in unexpected places, religious intolerance, widening of the gap between the have nots and those who exploit them to have, the worse form of human conduct commanding top position on prime time news, the division of the world into people who are important and people who are not.

If the Mission is to be otherwise, different, a new example of ourselves to ourselves, then we all have to be involved in the evolution of how that mission is stated and exemplified. Children cannot learn values and attitudes from textbook or Sunday school alone. Artists will learn to valorise the conditions of their marginalised existence merely as mirrors, if they have no stake in a society that teaches them how to shed light because it has also demonstrated how a light can make a difference.

 

AMINA BLACKWOOD MEEKS

MARCH 17, 2014

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