Monday, October 5, 2009

A challenge to Jamaica's intellectuals

Letter to the Gleaner | Published: Monday | October 5, 2009

The Editor, Sir:

Jamaica's intellectuals at home and abroad have turned their backs on the country's violence. They are lecturing in universities, some hosting radio and television programmes - debating eloquently into a bottomless pit of nonsense - while the security forces struggle to stop this brutal attack on the nation. This country has a population of only 2.8 million, with almost 2,000 murders every year - one of the highest in the world - a scourge that will continue, unless the intellectuals rescue the minds of our youths.

Indeed, we have seen intellectuals unite on many occasions - splitting the atom to defeat the axis of evil of World War II, followed by 50 years of struggle against the expansion of communism - toppling it in the mid-1980s. Recently, they rallied against the Government's idea of bauxite mining in the treasured Cockpit Country - Jamaica's delicate ecosystem, rich in biodiversity with countless wild-life and endemic species, where 60 per cent of the country's fresh water flows. The same passion and zeal used to gather international storm against the Government's mining of the Cockpit Country must be re-routed to creating crimeless minds.

Chest-thumping nationalism

In his essay - 'New Treason of the Intellectuals', Pierre Trudeau argued against chest-thumping nationalism at all costs and proud self-government at the expense of good government, without advancing the people's living conditions: We have expanded a great deal of time and energy proclaiming the rights due our nationality, invoking our divine mission, trumpeting our virtues, bewailing our misfortunes, denouncing our enemies, and avowing our independence; and for all that not one of our workmen is the more skilled, nor a civil servant the more efficient, a financier the richer, a doctor more advanced, a bishop the more learned, nor a single politician the less ignorant.

Jamaica obtained its Independence from England in 1962, the same year Trudeau published his essay on the status of Quebec, still trumpeting political etiquette over economic discipline which would reverse the violence and, to this perilous mistake, our intellectuals sit silently.

Crime is a growth industry Jamaica can do without, so there can be no greater duty than its intellectuals reversing this trend. But if they see the country as a classroom of misbehaving students and, gazing anxiously at the clock, wait patiently to dismiss the class without teaching, then the awful breaches in the nation's social levees - families, law and order, schools and churches - are explainable but inexcusable. The intellectual's ambition is of the people's.

Indeed, it is time for them to lead, finding causes of aggressive behaviour towards one another. Priority should be given to male students entering post-secondary education, until gender equilibrium in education is achieved. Establish self-motivation courses with full academic accreditation into the education curriculum.

Qualitative and quantitative emphasis

Create anti-crime textbooks with projects focusing on family development with qualitative and quantitative emphasis on the economy - with and without violence. The first year of college should be subsidised - a benevolent act to inspire pride and patriotism in our youths. There should be a national correspondence course on parenting with a tax credit on completion. Deportees who committed serious crimes in other countries should not enter the public space before successfully completing psychological evaluation, certifying them fit to join the general population.

If Jamaica's intellectuals have confined their courage to eloquent speeches, leaving only the security forces as a cushion between disorder and peace, the road to true independence will continue to be long, winding and rocky.

I am, etc.,


Ontario, Canada

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