Building a Better Jamaica

The following is a response to the previous blog entry titled Jamaica Is No Paradise:

The response to my Jamaica is no Paradise article has been overwhelming. It is evident that the message has resonated with many, and others have taken issue with some aspects of what was said. The article was initially written in 2011 at a time when I had lost a close friend to gun violence. Therefore my emotions at the time were unfiltered. Although the article is a few years old, I do believe that it is still pertinent to current day Jamaica. I appreciate the feedback I have received and will attempt to address some of the concerns raised.

A few have argued that I was incorrect in saying that there was or is no middle class within Jamaica. My attempts in saying that the middle class was obliterated was due to the great income disparity which continues to exist. The difference between the haves and the have nots is a great one. I do concede however that there is still a minority of Jamaicans that fall within the middle income category. That being said, the economic climate in Jamaica is one which places significant constraints on upward financial mobility for all socioeconomic groups.

Jamaica’s problems are multifaceted and solutions to said problems will also have to vary in approach. Unfortunately I don’t have all the answers to help Jamaica remove that which plagues us. However I firmly believe that a good starting point is with our youth through a renewed education policy. Too many of our younger generation are left to believe that their education is a simplistic routine used to get them to the next grade level. I find that very few see a tertiary education as a possibility. To change this mindset, the youth must be engaged from as early as the primary level to realize what tertiary opportunities exist. This may be implemented by working closely with senior institutions to provide college preview days to the aforementioned groups. In addition, specific social projects could be implemented where mentorship is provided that incorporates mapping out an educational plan to serve as a goal setting formula. Enabling the youth to plan for a tertiary future enables them to see that the work they do today is the foundation for a brighter tomorrow. This in and of itself will not rid Jamaica of all it’s problems, however it is a starting point. I am already examining ways that I may assist in implementing such a program. Education will pave the way for a brighter future for everyone involved. In addition, proper mentorships gives our youth positive role models.

In my initial article I provided some advice to those who reside in inner city communities. In doing so, it was not my intent to seem condescending. I see us all as Jamaicans, regardless of our varied address. The advice I sought to give was a means of providing feedback that will assist our society as a whole. We each have a job to do to making Jamaica a better place. I apologize if my article came off as patronizing to any particular group.

Jamaica for all it’s bad, certainly has a lot of good and I have on many occasions sought to highlight the positives about our society. However, in light of all that is good we have a long way to go in order to place Jamaica back on the path to prosperity. Having been personally affected by many of the ills in Jamaica, I believe it is pertinent to address the issues which affect us negatively. Our accolades will always be there, and yes it ought to be celebrated, but in the same breath we cannot ignore the issues which plague us. In the last decade I have lost a family member and a close friend to gun violence. On more that one occasion I have witnessed the horror which comes with having intruders attempt to break into my family’s home. I have had my heart race when I thought a car was following my family. It is a state of horror that no one should live in. I would like to see a better Jamaica and my attempt to address the ills which affect it is not a mild attempt to be negative, it is an attempt to be realistic.

The bad about Jamaica affects us all, the problem is not unique to the less developed areas of the island. The crime and violence is widespread. As such each individual from every walk of life in Jamaica has the foundation to provide valuable feedback on the topic. Are the problem see face unique to Jamaica? Of course not. The problems in Jamaica are indeed faced in other countries. However Jamaica is my home, and therefore I can only speak on that which I have been exposed to. My heart is with Jamaica and I sincerely want to see us make a change for the better. I love my country and I showcase my nation the best I can on any occasion. I have hosted groups of students in Jamaica, and brought countless friends to see my island home is like. For anyone that think my attempt was to put my nation down, it wasn’t.

The response as previously noted, has been overwhelming. I am taking the feedback as they come, and I am working on varied ways that I can become proactive in fixing the negatives I previously highlighted. They say the first step to solving a problem is by admitting that there is one. I have started that process and I am committed to seeing it through.

© Dimitri Lyon and dimitrilyon.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dimitri Lyon and dimitrilyon.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

40 thoughts on “Building a Better Jamaica

  1. Pingback: Jamaica Is No Paradise | Dimitri Lyon

  2. I totally agree with you Dimitri, our homeland is in deep trouble. It is time for us to stand up and work to make Jamaica a better place.

    • I confidently believe, that the government must decide to take tough actions against the criminals in Jamaica. If the government continue to lay down their hands, and take the deterioration of Jamaicans and Jamaica itself.
      The courts, will have to stop the nonsenses of too much sympathy for criminals, and take the lead with some biting sentences. Sentences that WILL teach others a tough lesson to swallow. The time has come to take action Jamaica government, and as leader please lead now. Singapore and Cuba did this, and it worked well.
      Stop being fraidie-fraidie, and let Jamaica shines in progress and prosperity, please.

  3. Praise the Lord! It is a wonderful thing when the eyes of one’s understanding is opened. I commend this young man for his sociological introspection and his willingness to step forward and take a stand. It is in being willing to right a wrong and taking that first step towards making a difference that we truly live. I salute you young man and I will be praying for you. Yes the negative elements have guns, but we have an arsenal that is powerful. The weapons of our warfare is indeed mighty through God. I thank God for you and indeed by standing up you will make a difference. God bless you, this is the beginning, a first step. Maybe one of the things you can do is to start a practical outreach, working with disadvantaged youth. One of the persons I most admire is the Rev. Garnett Roper. Who as a young minister got doctors from different disciplines and set up a free clinic downtown. Another thing I noticed is that civics really need to be taught to the young folk. I am going to look you up on facebook and inbox you. God of mercy and of grace let your protection be upon this young man as he does what You have equipped and empowered him to do. In Jesus name, Amen.

  4. Whilst i agree with all of the above….I did the urbanization and got a good education…..a flip side of the coin is….you and I got education to elevate ourselves,….the lady at Passa passa pays for a hairdo and a dress,, dance her heart away hoping when this video reaches Birmingham or wherever it will be the ticket to her dream….Maybe it will be the ticket to providing for her Children….Don’t forget that children who have the qualification for the job may not necessarily get it due to his/her address….just my 2 cents

  5. It was very refreshing to know that someone out there is feeling the same way I have been for the last few months. Corruption is at the heart of the problem we are experiencing in Jamaica. Unfortunately it is at every level of our society. We have laws that nobody enforce or they are enforced for some and other get a free pass.

    Like you I am looking for a way to make Jamaica better and I believe we can do this one step at a time. Here is my email (edewar20_20@yahoo.co) address I am interested in talking further.

  6. Really? Now, today….?!! My didn’t I just scoll by? Why did I read this?
    I completely agree with your post, and I do applaud you. But I was just thinking of moving back in May after 20 years in the US, now I’m scared. For I too have told myself the same pacifying mistruths: only people involved in wrong doings are being killed, the Poole aren’t as bad as portrayed, and perhaps the biggest; classism is better than racism because you can change your class. Demitri!!!! Why today? Why now…(sigh) I’m just sad:(

    • Kadisha, I appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment. I’m sorry if I have given you a sense of apprehension about returning home. A great deal of the crime and violence is indeed targeted, however there are still random occurrences where the completely innocent get caught into the unfortunate dragnet being a victim of the onslaught unleashed by criminal entities. I fear that the security forces are not well equipped to deal with the magnitude of Jamaica’s crime situation. The Ministry of National Security has also failed to bring crime under control. Corruption runs deep in our political system and all of these factors contribute to making Jamaica what it is today. That being said, there are many people that live in Jamaica in relative safety. It’s just that I believe your capacity for a peace of mind in Jamaica is significantly less than you will be able to ascertain living elsewhere.

      • Dear Dimitri,

        I am an American women married to a Jamaican man and I will be visiting Jamaica soon with him and our three child born here in the U.S. I just want you to know that Jesus Christ is the only one that can set people free! I believe through constant prayer that God can bring down every stronghold in Jamaica and deliver people from bondage and the spirit of violence. He can do in a shot time what would take years to do. I myself will began praying for all of the people of Jamaica and if you believe in Jesus Christ I hope you will do the same!

  7. Dimitri,
    Thank you for taking the time to raise your voice in this forum and helping to fan the flame of this conversation. When I read the original piece, I also took issue with some of the points raised but clearly got the passion with which you spoke which was most important. First, the characterization of Jamaica as a fear riddled society seemed exaggerated to me and I’m speaking from the perspective of one who lived in the inner-city for the first 25 years of my life, had his home broken into while he and his mom were home, with gunshots fired at his mom, who has been robbed at knife point at my gate when I moved to an uptown community and who has had other such experiences. Also, as others have pointed out, the ‘advice’ given to inner-city folk really oversimplifies what is a most complex problem that will not be fixed with a 3 step program.

    No need to belabor those points though – the dialogue is healthy and will bring us closer to a revolution against ambivalence and inaction. It is in the dialogue that solutions will emerge. I agree with you that we must all begin to raise our voices against injustice. I also agree that education is key, but I’ll add, not just in an academic sense but in all of us educating each other so that we can make better choices (political and otherwise) and take responsibility for our country. That’s why I started the Facebook page IlluminateJamaica to help spark dialogue on the issues (hope you and others join and contribute)

    Again, thanks for raising your voice!

  8. Pingback: Jamaica Is No Paradise | Island Gossip NewsOnline

  9. Every time I listen to the national pledge I wonder if the Members of Parliament, in particular, the Prime Minister, understands the words which are really awe inspiring. I ran for public office and did not fare well. I tried to make the difference by actually walking the walk not talking the talk, I wrote a whole book on Jamaican politics, “Two Steps Forward Two Steps Backwards, the Jamaican Story 1972-2007”, but have realized that our problems are two fold, pathetic leadership and even worse followership.The middle class, what remains, has completely ceded their role to the lumpen proletariat who do not know anything other than crime and objectification of our women. Jamaica can only change as you rightly put it by the decent, non-lumpen proletariat getting into public office.That’s the only way to fix out country.

    • Mr. Gammon continued blessings to you and all who support your vision. I would suggest like I do to all positive thinking Jamaicans for positive change, to continue to communicate and combine our resources to make the necessary changes in Jamaica…keep up the good work in pure positive light and continue your grassroots work, it will mature.
      – Dunn
      numedia_inc@yahoo.com

  10. It is strange how my friend sent me the link to the previous article yesterday because we were discussing the problems that are in Jamaica and we had concluded that education would make a huge difference and here you are saying the same thing. The problem is not getting the youths to see education as a means of moving forward positively, it’s the parents that need this because if you can educate the parents then i believe that everything will fall into place. I have heard teachers complaining about parents who can’t read and really don’t have an interest in their children education, while there are some who can’t read and will push there children to be the best. Before i had my own passion for learning my parents instilled in me the importance of reading and learning. For us to move forward parents need to realise that if they give their children a great start in life (education) they won’t have to worry about much because then children will know how to prioritise and live as model citizens. I must say though i live in the rural area of Jamaica and have never experienced the fear you speak of. This orange and green Jamaica need to be done away with and the true colours of black,green and gold returned. Get rid of cable tv too many “reality shows” put this materialistic ideals into the minds of youths so there is a get rich mentality minus the education= illegal activities.

  11. I will sum up Jamaica’s issue in one word……IGNORANCE!!!!!

    As some have alluded to in the comments above, human nature will always create a disparity. In my opinion however Jamaica’s ignorance is too wide spread. I am deeply moved by your article and I have had this conversation twice already in this week prior to reading your article so it is refreshing to see that someone else cares.

    I do not believe that Jamaica can be completely fixed, but we can begin making differences in pockets, call it the resistance so to speak. There is strength in numbers and I am among the resistance!!!!!!!

    God bless my Jamaican brother.

  12. I hope by Education you include black history? I hope modern history is involved as it is relevant. I hope Jamaican history is a must. Politics should be inclusive… But it cannot be Education only. Other countries in the world seem to have established an ethos where as Jamaica just follows mindlessly and with no direction. The problems of Jamaica start from the Top but with all leaders regardless of party colours. The children are the future and such is what the ethos should be based on. Build Jamaica for the kids. Instil in the children, pride in Jamaica, love for Jamaica. Allegiance to Jamaica and leave out the foreign mind. Belief in Jamaica. Self determination… Jamaica doesn’t need a leader. It needs leaders in the perspective that the future will not disappear because of the death of one great mind. In the same way Jamaica is blessed with nearly eight top class 100m challengers. The future is indeed that of the youth but we all owe the elders the opportunity to live the remainder of their lives in dignity and respect. the diaspora of Jamaica can do a lot for Jamaica but the negativity and bad feelings shown to everyone who can help Jamaica including returning Jamaicans is probably a better conversation than what Dimitri has started even though I know it was born out of mourning your loss. but trust Dimitri, i doubt there is a Jamaican on this land who has never lost someone to gun violence. Your loss has brought you to this stage where you have created a forum for discussion. keep focused on the positives. Jamaica needs more positivity than the negativity. Everybody knows the negativity. Dat nah help nuh badi. Get the youth to focus on or identify all the positive things about Jamaica and you may change a few minds. Get them to focus or identify all the negativity then only fear or more negativity will develop. To finish hear are a few lines of a favoured tune that all Jamaicans know. Help me big up Jamaica, the land of wood and water. the system might nuh proper ……. what a nice place fi live…. sweet jam down !!

  13. I like the level of committment given in the main article. But I ask you as I have asked others, where are the answers? The solutions to corruption, crime, adolescence mistakes, why do we have them?What will we do to compensate? I must admit I have thought about it and placed articles, proposals, suggestions online at: http://www.ramsur.com

  14. We sit in our comfortable lives and offer what we believe to be solutions to the social and moral ills of this country. I have read a number of the posts placed by concerned citizens on this channel. At least concerned enough to type up their posts. Numerous excellent ideas to help steer the ship of Jamaica away from the approaching reefs are offered.
    All very good ideas I might add.
    However, I have yet to read a post that gives the slightest indication that its author is willing to step to the forefront and do something, anything, to move the country forward. Why is that?
    I know why?
    It is because we are all too scared to put ourselves on the line to do something that would help the cause. We are too caught up in our own self existence to care. We would much rather have someone else correct all the ills so that we could further benefit from their successful efforts.
    As long as all the atrocities happen to other people who we know little or nothing of we are only mildly verbally engaged. As long as we could continue to reside in the safety of our secured gated communities, we just do not care!

    As long we continue to demonstrate our “We Do Not Care” attitudes our Parlimentarians will care less. They will continue to exsist in their lavish lifestyles, collect their huge stipends and not perform at maximum levels on behalf of their constituents. As a result, we all suffer and the youth continue to have very little hope for a brighter future. Wish I could paint a brighter picture but those are the facts and reality of the circumstances we face.

  15. JAMAICA IS MY PARADISE ! Why isn,t she yours?

    I am writing as we speak from New York, where I am spending a couple weeks with my son between Westchester and the Bronx…..and every day I miss my Island home paradise, Jamaica, Land I Love. Just to give you a little background…. I am 64 years young, grew up in ‘uptown’ as part of the middle class, and hold a doctorate in clinical therapy, specializing in orthomolecular medicine and psychiatry, and completed a PhD in Jewish studies and Biblical Hermeneutics. I have lived in Jamaica, all my life, apart from short stints elsewhere. three months is the longest time I have ever stayed out of Jamaica for at any one time; and usually after two weeks, I long to return home..

    Now if you are wondering if I am a hermit or live in a bubble, I have worked in the intercity on and off since my teen-aged years, and still do. I have looked down the barrel of a gun several times, driven my van full of screaming teenagers though a volley of gunshots to get my charges back uptown, and been holed up for two hours in a church , as we all lay on our bellies, listening to shots zing over our heads and Molotov cocktails explode; as rival gangs used our building as the buffer zone…..just to name a few of my challenges……all within the past 20 years. Some of those present on many of those occasions, have fled the country as a result of those experiences, some have remained barricaded in their uptown garrisons,and others of us have continued to celebrate, and enjoy the exhilarating and exciting freedom of living in a country where you can practice any lifestyle you choose and carve out your own path. I have travelled across every continent except Africa and Australia, and most of the islands of the sea! AND THERE IS NO PLACE BETTER THAN JAMAICA.

    Most of my Jamaican friends, and all of my non-Jamaican friends think that Jamaica is PARADISE! Why? Because we have chosen to celebrate every day of of our lives the beautiful things about Jamaica and the Jamaican people, and we do not ever mention , repeat or talk about any of our problems unless we are sharing the solutions that we are involved in being a part of.. Why? Because it is as you said, IF I am not a part of the solution, then I am part of the problem.!

    If a pothole occurs in any of our communities, we simply get some marl, and a bag of cement, or some barber green and fix it. If there is an upsurge of crime in our areas, we go into action with our neighborhood watch along with the police, and they don,t stand a chance! Part of this group, independently moved from community to community, sometimes in affluent communities and sometimes in very depressed and dangerous communities. My husband and I had moved into six (6) different communities between 2005 and 2012. What is our objective? To demonstrate that we as Jamaicans can transform our individual spaces, our communities and our nation, if we only take individual responsibility, and do whatever we can.

    Do you think that the majority of Jamaicans are murderers and criminals? I don,t think so, and neither do you? But we have been socialized to focus always on the ‘few’ negative occurrences in our country, talk about them day and night, until they become the major feature of our lives to the exclusion of all the great and wonderful things that happen in the wonderful, exceptional and God-blessed nation. and another thing….statistically speaking, Jamaica is NOT the murder capital of the world. We need to understand that all the so-called ‘news’ and demographics, from home or from abroad are always from the perspective of some entity with an agenda, and that all the investigative journalistic reporting, is often from the perspective of exposing the unpleasant facts without being part of the solution.

    Please do not think this is a jab at the news media, because I know of literally hundreds of organizations that have been formed as solutions to the challenges exposed by these same media. What we need to do is give not even equal coverage to these initiatives! we need to give the majority of our coverage to those involved in the solutions instead of those involved in causing the problem……BECAUSE OUR FOCUS ALWAYS DETERMINES OUR DIRECTION. For the past forty years I have boycotted all new casts and news papers that make their focus the negatives about Jamaica, (just listen to the headlines or look at the front pages). That means I buy the newspapers or listen to the news approximately once a year!

    How can we individually be part of the solution? We have a map which we can follow! It is our MOTTO, ANTHEM AND PLEDGE. If EACH ONE of us:
    1. Regards .every Jamaican as equal, (Out of many one people);

    2. Prays our national anthem everyday, and loves our country (does only what is for the national good); and

    3. Attempts to focus on carrying out the tenets of our pledge, in advancing the welfare of the whole human race!…. Then:
    You will experience, like I do that Jamaica is indeed Paradise.
    Remember when good men do nothing, evil flourishes! It’s YOUR choice!
    Whose side are you on? Join me on my journey at Celebrate Life .me on Reggaetoreggae.com

    >>>>>>>>W E L C O M E. TO. PARADISE! ! !

    • Okay Doctor! It sounds as though you are a true and dedicated Jamaican national interested in being a part of the solutions and NOT a part of the problem. I would like to join you and your associates (if any) in your efforts to improve conditions on the island. I may be contacted at brandfragrances@live.com. Thank you doctor and I look forward to hearing from you in the not too distant future. I wish you, your family and the entire blogging community here a Blessed, Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014. Cheers!

    • Dr. Chong, I sincerely appreciate the feedback. In addition I applaud you for the work you are doing, and continue to do in making our home a better place. I would love to talk with you further regarding outreach opportunities etc.

      • I did a lengthy reply to Lance, about possibilities for cooperation and action in implementing solutions, I thought it would appear on this blog, but not being very computer savvy, I replied to His personal email instead. so Lance, if you know how to post my reply to you, please share it on this site.

        I have engaged in workable solutions to every challenge that faces Jamaica, successfully. The key is to get involved ONLY in those projects that can be done on an individual basis, then do it communally. And do not think that you are all alone, there are thousands of individual projects that I am aware of, and hundreds of thousands more that that never get noticed. I have been doing this for over fifty years, and plan to be going for another fifty. .These projects span a range of areas from health, to education,to finance, to research and development to industry, housing, , etc.,etc.,etc and they are all sustainable and low cost, using and developing our natural resources without the utilization of any foreign aid. Just Jamaican at home and abroad helping Jamaica to develop our unbelievable untapped potential. Every successful project has ground to a halt, when some organization has tried to own it, take controll and get brownie points. I used to write and send my proposals after I had successfully done a pilot , to the relevant ministry or organization, only one was acknowledged, and rejected, the others were never acknowledged…and I am talking about multiple programs each year. Anyone interested in having them is welcomed, just write and let me know your specific area of interest. Every company, organization and entity, public and private, have detailed studies of workable solutions sitting in file thirteen, most of which are available to the public…….for a fee in cash or time!…and the worst part is that millions of our tax dollars were paid to foreign consultants over the years to produce these ‘research’ documents and over 90% have never been implemented!. I used to spend so much time researching the projects sitting at the Planning Institute, the Scientific Research Council, the Coconut Board, Jamaica Bauxite Institute, to name a few, starting from high school days……the information is all there. So where is the breakdown, the disconnect? Only those willing to engage individually in the process will see results….and it is not about money. It is about. T I M E involved on the ground, and for those in the diaspora who cannot come, it is about sponsoring the T I M E of those in the trenches! My late husband,Earl Chong and I along with many,many other Jamaicans have used Millions of our own resources, from when one Jamaican dollar could be exchanged for two US dollars, to the time when it has reached 100 to 1. So, let us “put our money (and resources) where our mouths lie” for 2014 and make up for lost time. How? Let each interested Jamaican rewrite their vision for just ONE project that they are passionate about THAT THEY CAN PERSONALLY DO, OR WHICH THEY CAN COMPLETE AS A FAMILY OR ORGANIZATION, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OUTSIDE ENTITY THEN WE CAN MAKE THE LINKAGES, IDENTIFY THE AREAS OF OVERLAP,,AND DO THE NECESSARY NETWORKING. Do not attempt anything that you need assistance from government or any entity outside of your control.to complete ! We must take back control, we can do it, because every issue that has gone awry is a result of our giving away our personal control to someone else. We can transform Jamaica in 2012.
        , please feel free to contact me on this blog , so I can share any information I can to move the process forward. LET EVERY JAM-ICON STEP FORWARD! FOR WE HAVE BEEN CREATED AS AN EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY DESTINY,

  16. Dimitri, I felt as if you have read my thoughts and put it down in a more eloquent way than I could.

    My husband and I are both social workers by profession in the UK. We’ve contemplated moving to Jamaica where we can impart some of our skills and knowledge in child protection and family intervention. We talk about how we could work with parents and children in the schools and teach on values, ethics and resilience.

    I am an optimist yet, a venture like this is just a dream. Where will the resources come from? How safe will we be when working in the community? As you mentioned in your article, is Jamaica ready for change?
    I recently saw a dancehall video of a woman sitting on a boy aged around 9 and gyrating herself on him whilst placing his hands on her bosom. This seemed acceptable as the other patrons laughed or carried on dancing. This is a place where it is still ok for parents to put little girls up to do wining contest on stage in front of an audience and receive praise for it.

    I could go on and on about issues relating to gangs, guns, politics, attitudes, the dancehall influences and numerous others. I wouldn’t know where to start with solutions. Please feel free to let me know if you come up with any.

    You are in my prayers.

    • I live in Jamaica….and have visited intentionally, Jamaican/Caribbean populations in the Caribbean islands and in every country and state where there are significant Jamaican populations, to help be a part of the solutions by asking individual Jamaicans to take back personal control. I have seen all the challenges first hand. But we cannot throw up our hands in despair. We must let our voices be heard, stick to our personal values, Do not support in anyway, buy from, use any product from or spent any of your money or time or energy with any person or entity that does not share your values, do not employ them, unless they are willing to toe your line while you are paying them!, and then get involved on the ground without fear or favor in what you are passionate about. I will not get involved in anything that I am not willing to die for! because if I do, then I can be bought, or frustrated or made to pull back in fear of the repercussions. My late husband and I have influenced over a million persons to take personal responsibility for their own health choices. If two can affect over a million in 50 years, what can even 1000 Jamaicans do to influence change in one year (2014) in Jamaicans around the world….do the math. we just need to be committed, and get involved in ONE PROJECT WHICH YOU CAN COMPLETE.!

      I can happen, and it will happen this coming year….there is nothing that can stop us as we each play our part.

  17. Just a few points : in Jamaica 2013, the climate of total fear you wrote about in the original post is not particularly relevant anymore and feels a bit exaggerated. There are still problems but it is NOt the atmosphere you describe. As for education and cultural transformation as a cure all, I highly doubt it… Yes, public education needs significant investment and improvement– the half day classes kids get are totally ridiculous. The problem here, as you note, is the distribution of wealth and, I would add, an econ. development model that is only interested in reproducing the wealth of the elite, IMF and foreign investors. All the education a paternalism in the world won’t change that. Uptown needs to be wiling to give up a part of their privileges to make things better. There are many UWI grads from downtown who cannot make it because the economy is so corrupt and exclusionary. Even for those who achieve the hallowed education there are few options in neoliberal Jamaica and most want to flee the island. I would strongly suggest a new nationalism and social project for the 21st century. Unfortunately, when Manley tried to do something about this economic system and social divide in the 1970s, uptown fled to Miami while the garrisons exploded in partisan warfare with some help from the CIA.

  18. I must agree with Dr. Chong. Despite the violence and corruptions, there is no place like Jamaica, and there is much we all can do. My contribution today is to challenge you to engage the churches. I am in my 20th year of formal pastoral ministry, and I have served in rural, suburban, and urban settings. In every context, I have seen the tremendous influence that the church “can” have. I say “can” because it seems that not all church leadership embrace a vision for community development.

    Among my most memorable experiences was my service in one particular inner-city area. There were gang wars aplenty when I was assigned to the area, but before I left after six years, an old community member testified that for the first time in many years, he was able to walk from one section of the area to another without fear (He had to pass through the territories of 7-8 different gangs.). This was possible because of the work of the church. I was then chairman of the Ministers’ Fraternal, but my local church had a strong presence among the youth in the community. I gained the trust of many gangs because I represented Jesus Christ, and not myself or a political party.

    It’s interesting that education can be highlighted as that which is formal. For years, I met with a group of men (Sometimes females were included but not targeted.) on Sundays, after our morning service, under a big tree that used to be a gambling den. I would often engage them in philosophic discussions – not about the history of philosophy but about ideas that affected their lives, such as the meaning of life. I witnessed young men change their perspectives about themselves and others. I got teenagers back into school, helped young men get their TRNs and National IDs, without which you cannot get a job. Some of these same individuals pulled away from the control of others because they were now thinking for themselves. There is much more I could say about engaging the youth but the essence is that it was all educational and resulted in changed lives.

    If you engage the church in reflections on community development, then many churches that are now passive may become active. I have never been in a Jamaican community that has not shown regard for the church, but the church needs to truly love the community for meaningful action to take place. All who love Jamaica can facilitate this by engaging the churches and not leaving them out of the discussion or solution.

    May God continue to bless Jamaica.

  19. A Canadian asked my response to your piece. Here is my response / I thought I would share it.

    Conversation started today
    Paul Tomlinson
    2:01pm
    Paul Tomlinson

    Ronelda firstly let me put this person in the context he is in. He is a middle maybe upper class person that lives a different lifestyle than the people of which he speaks. Ok that being said it is also not his fault either.

    What he describes and says is primarily true as it relates to the section of society that lives in a political way of life called the Inner Cities. Sadly life in those areas are hardened by political skullduggery and favors. The entire community is administered by their local crime leaders. How did these crime leaders have a voice- through political skullduggery. They form gangs in each community for security from police harassment. Yes the police treats those communities different as rightly or wrongly the trouble comes from those areas The writer speaks about this in his piece.
    So each ‘gang’ supports their community by the see nothing, hear nothing rule and each gang in order to protect they engage in brutal warfare to achieve dominance. The problem is the politicians have no communication with the gang leaders and they control the politicians. He becomes a slave to the crime lords. He is useless.

    So like the mafia in NYC, Chicago and other major cities. Jamaica has its own mafia ring of crime and corruption , aided and abetted by government officials , politicians and other civic and business leaders. It creates a false economy as it creates ‘jobs’, income and wealth. Yes it sounds funny but its true. Crime feeds crime.

    Our good writer that represents the upper/middle class knows this and feel threatened when the crime lifestyle comes too close to their reality. So Jamaica in essence has 2 economic systems, one for the rich and one for the poor or as we say in Jamaica one above Cross roads and one below. This ‘system’ is all man made and like anything left unchecked and unbridled it gets out of hand to the point of no return. Hence the writer’s reaction. He is the voice for the above cross road community.

    As a developing country finding our voice since independence we will go through growing pains. Sadly we will also have leaders that are as corrupt as the system they create. How to fix it – start with a new social and political constitution, one that dictates who we are, where we are going, what we want and how to get there. We also need leaders to lead the people that share the new ideal. Will there be dissenters? Of course but when you have an educated and working nation it is easier to deal with dissenters. They will be in the minority. Now they are the majority so bull shit walks and talks, government and the people listens. Corruption rules.

    Concerned citizens seem hopeless and helpless but that is the fear they create. The answer lies in them. How?
    1. Stop the classism. treat everyone on the same level. Respect everyone.
    2. When you have established that respect , then you have trust. Trust can move mountains. It gives everyone the opportunity to do something positive. It opens the creative juices to infinite possibilities.
    3. Know that the brain drain is affecting our country. It makes no sense they stay away in foreign and complain. Thats the easiest thing to do. Get up and put your money where your mouth is.
    4. Focus on agriculture, lets get back to feeding the world and ourselves.
    5.Give opportunities to those that have little. Thats all they want and they will get it even if they have to kill. Create jobs, good paying jobs. All this can only happen when we have a national plan of wealth for everyone, not just the top 1%.

    Jamaicans are happy to run away developing other people’s country and leave theirs to rot. Its a plantation mentality and whilst we may be independent we are still a plantation society – we need to be lead by the foreigner. This is the exception rather than the rule however.

    We are only 52 years old .still a very young society but what hurts is the lack of patriotism from Jamaicans. The only way to fix your yard is to be in the yard and work towards a better Jamaica but sadly our people sees Jamaica as a breeding ground to leave for better opportunities , running away from our collective responsibilities of creating our own opportunities and ideals for a Jamaica we can all be proud of.

    Nation building is not done by a few. The USA and Canada were not built on a few hopeless politicians. It was built on courage, resolve, determination, goals, unity, plan, blood , sweat and tears. Sadly I think after spilling our blood on the plantation our people are ready to leave , spilling little blood whilst leaving their home to be infested by rats.

  20. As per the request of Dr. Sherrill Chong, I am posting her misdirected post to my email address. Her entire post has been unedited and the words as she expressed them are contained within the quoation marks. (“)

    “I did a lengthy reply to Lance, about possibilities for cooperation and action in implementing solutions, I thought it would appear on this blog, but not being very computer savvy, I replied to His personal email instead. so Lance, if you know how to post my reply to you, please share it on this site.”

    “I have engaged in workable solutions to every challenge that faces Jamaica, successfully. The key is to get involved ONLY in those projects that can be done on an individual basis, then do it communally. And do not think that you are all alone, there are thousands of individual projects that I am aware of, and hundreds of thousands more that that never get noticed. I have been doing this for over fifty years, and plan to be going for another fifty. .These projects span a range of areas from health, to education,to finance, to research and development to industry, housing, , etc.,etc.,etc and they are all sustainable and low cost, using and developing our natural resources without the utilization of any foreign aid. Just Jamaican at home and abroad helping Jamaica to develop our unbelievable untapped potential. Every successful project has ground to a halt, when some organization has tried to own it, take controll and get brownie points. I used to write and send my proposals after I had successfully done a pilot , to the relevant ministry or organization, only one was acknowledged, and rejected, the others were never acknowledged…and I am talking about multiple programs each year. Anyone interested in having them is welcomed, just write and let me know your specific area of interest. Every company, organization and entity, public and private, have detailed studies of workable solutions sitting in file thirteen, most of which are available to the public…….for a fee in cash or time!…and the worst part is that millions of our tax dollars were paid to foreign consultants over the years to produce these ‘research’ documents and over 90% have never been implemented!. I used to spend so much time researching the projects sitting at the Planning Institute, the Scientific Research Council, the Coconut Board, Jamaica Bauxite Institute, to name a few, starting from high school days……the information is all there. So where is the breakdown, the disconnect? Only those willing to engage individually in the process will see results….and it is not about money. It is about. T I M E involved on the ground, and for those in the diaspora who cannot come, it is about sponsoring the T I M E of those in the trenches! My late husband,Earl Chong and I along with many,many other Jamaicans have used Millions of our own resources, from when one Jamaican dollar could be exchanged for two US dollars, to the time when it has reached 100 to 1. So, let us “put our money (and resources) where our mouths lie” for 2014 and make up for lost time. How? Let each interested Jamaican rewrite their vision for just ONE project that they are passionate about THAT THEY CAN PERSONALLY DO, OR WHICH THEY CAN COMPLETE AS A FAMILY OR ORGANIZATION, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OUTSIDE ENTITY THEN WE CAN MAKE THE LINKAGES, IDENTIFY THE AREAS OF OVERLAP,,AND DO THE NECESSARY NETWORKING. Do not attempt anything that you need assistance from government or any entity outside of your control.to complete ! We must take back control, we can do it, because every issue that has gone awry is a result of our giving away our personal control to someone else. We can transform Jamaica in 2012.
    , please feel free to contact me on this blog , so I can share any information I can to move the process forward. LET EVERY JAM-ICON STEP FORWARD! FOR WE HAVE BEEN CREATED AS AN EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY DESTINY,”

  21. Don’t we all recognize it yet? Crime in the issue at the top of the list for us to get under control. For if we do that, big business foreign investment would flock to our shores. Then we could employ more people. Then we could raise the lifestyle of many Jamaicans. Then we would be in a better position to address many of the other social ills plaguing us. As soon as we understand that there is a common demnominator in bringing about real change and betterment for all, we will be well on our way to instituing a welcome change. That missing link is M O N E Y. For every project we wish to embark upon, money becomes a key factor. The lack of money has stymied many projects that could have brought about changes and improved lives and by extension the country of Jamaica. I think money making projects should be embarked upon. How about events similar to those that bring international visitors to our shores? What does this bloging community think about that?

  22. There is a common denominator is solving many of Jamican ills. This one issue, the key, and if we resolve it, many of our social ills that is the impetus for crime would like the key domino that sets the

    • I get the impression that few if any of the persons engaging in this blog live in Jamaica, because their impressions all seem to be that of what is reported in the official press, or is part of the unofficial communication network, which is incidentally more powerful than the official because it uses the official as a baseboard and adds to it all the personal and often enhanced anecdotes. Those of us who are involved in solutions on the ground , know that there is probably 10 times more good stuff happening then bad stuff!.

      LLET US LOOK AT SOME FACTS
      1). All statistics are based on what is reported. Most reported incidents are only a fraction of what really exists in any area.this applies to the good stuff as well as the bad stuff..However whatever is kept before your eyes and is blasted in your ears continually, becomes your focus and controls you. It is the most effective advertising strategy in the marketing mix.. Another component to consider is the reporter – and here I am including all who repeat the ‘facts, We ALL have our own personal perspectives and our own communal agendas based on how we react to our own experiences. If these reactions are based on fear of loss of possessions or life, it will colour our perspectives and our agendas.

      Now I would like to address the two most mentioned issues ; that of CRIME (which includes all crime; including blue collar and corruption;) and MONEY (which includes cost of living, balance of payment, unemployment, and personal and national debt.) in the light of all I have said above.

      CRIME: ( influenced by my perspective and my agenda which becomes my reality)

      1). 90% of the leadership – political and otherwise- are involved in crime, civil or criminal activity. And most of that leadership will agree with those statistics after assuring you that they are part of the 10%,! That is where the down-towners learnt it from, because they observe it first hand as their gardeners and household helps; as their factory workers and abused employees. Additionally these people ( the 90%) have an agenda that they must make the maximum income for themselves for as long as they can, while they are in control, because they know that one day the people will arise!

      2). My experience across the island is that the rest of the population can be categorized as follows when it comes to crime;
      o. 10% are involved in hardcore criminal activity for fear that if they do not outdo their trainers (the 90% above) they will be replaced, or irradiated, by those who are better at this game….there is a constant war for turf. (they get 90% of the news coverage, and the more gruesome and heinous the crime, the more time and space is spent on it)

      o. 10% have decided! I will not become involved in any sort of crime, and I will live my life without fear or favor for the betterment of Jamaica.

      o. 30% have decided that I will take whatever I can get out of the ,leadership, the dons, and the do-gooders. But their objective is to get the most they can before they are snuffed out…..also motivated by fear of loss!

      o. That leaves 50% who try their best to remove themselves as far away from the problems as they can through education, upward social mobility, internal and external migration,and other attempts at insulation or isolation!

      SOLUTION – THE RESTORATION OF HOPE
      Because Most of our actions are motivated by fear, and fear kills hope, we need to give this hope back to our people!

      IDEALLY IF ALL THE NEWS MEDIA COULD REJECT ALL REPORTS OF CRIME VIOLENCE AND CORRUPTION FOR 30 DAYS AAAND COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER TO REPORT EVERY POSITIVE OPPORTUNITY AND ACTIVITY THAT EXISTS IN THIS COUNTRY IN AGRICULTURE, FINANCE, TOURISM, EDUCATION, SPORTS, HEALTH, CULTURE, THE VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS, NATURAL RESOURCES
      TECHNOLOGY, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, ETC, ETC, ETC, WHICH WE ALL HAVE HERE IN ABUNDANCE AT WORLD STANDARDS, LET US LOOK AT WHAT THE RESULTS WOULD BE,

      1. All the many opportunities for self development and personal gain would overiride the fear of loss in our people;,at home and abroad. These opportunities and success stories exist and are thriving in small pockets, starved and suppressed by the lack of exposure, and those with an agenda to use most of the aid funds poured into Jamaica to line their own pockets.

      2. Those overseas who have an interest in Jamaica would feel free to visit! invest!and promote Jamaica….and of course

      3. The foreign press would not be left out, because they would hi-tail it to Jamaica to find out what on earth is going on because of a total cut in reports of all crime.

      Let us stop washing our dirty linen in public. Every country has got problems, and their demise or advancement is directly related to what they focus on. Our almost exclusive focus on the flood of negative issues like crime, violence, debt, unemployment,, IMF,cannot be outweighed by sprinklings of Bolt and Tessanne.

      I urge each concerned Jamaican to take up this challenge to research and disseminate only the good about Jamaica, not just to each other, but to our friends and anybody who will listen and to inundate the news media with it, and watch our country transform,

      MONEY
      The value and purpose of money is directly related to what it can be exchanged for…..and there are so many other forms and methods of exchange that have far more intrinsic value than a country’s official currency….and I am not referring to bitcoin! I have lived for approximately 2 years where my monetary income was between 10 – 20% of my expenditure. How did we do it.. Our household, which averaged six persons used our most valuable resource..T I M E to invest, barter, grow, invent,, donate, give away and ‘tun you Han and mek fashion. It was our most productive two years.
      Money is not our problem. There are other methods of exchange and other currencies, which can be all used by individuals, communities, organizations and even nations. The one disliked characteristic of.these forms of exchange is that you cannot steal some of it and they do not lend themselves to kick- backs and under the table transactions.

      WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE MY PARADISE , YOUR PARADISE.?!?
      Please come on board, together we CAN do it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s