The folly of politics

Today, Jamaica is celebrating Peace Day 2014. The country needs more than a day of peace. With three murders a day, it’s very troubling to think that violence is stuck in overdrive. Parliamentarians are today debating one political measure to look at a particularly disturbing piece of Jamaica’s recent history–the 2010 Tivoli ‘Incidents’ (my choice of description; locally, it is called ‘Incursion’), when over 70 persons were killed as the government sought drug ‘baron’, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.

It’s 100 days before the 2014 World Cup tournament starts in Brazil, and though the Reggae Boyz did not make it, the politicians are showing how to play football with matters that are very important and need them to show how big they are. In the melee that passed today in Parliament over a proposed Commission of Inquiry into the 2010 episode, the Opposition walked out.

Many people see Jamaica’s politicians as a large part of the country’s problems in terms of being able to find workable solutions. They are tribal at their base level; so are their supporters. Any move that appears to show national unity, is quickly cut down, such as a mere four days ago, when the Governor General and the leaders of the two main parties urged Jamaicans to reflect and reconcile, under the banner of the Unite for Change campaign. Days later, and the python is eating the crocodile.

What Jamaican politicians show repeatedly is that reconciliation is not something of which the current batch seem capable of achieving.

Why do more people decide to refuse to cast their ballot? The answer is very simple: the politicians are not worthy of that action. The politicians may not be capable of seeing that they are unworthy. But, people have a way of getting their points across to errant politicians.

Lent is approaching and it’s a time for reflection. The crop of MPs who sit as representatives of the people ought to take a good hard look at themselves. Pontification does not impress people who are tired of pontification. It does not inspire people who have seen their lives and living standards diminish constantly. It does not lead people to trust or believe that the pontificators are capable of dealing with much, other than a good massaging of their own egos.

The Caribbean is notable, relative to other regions, for having a long tradition of peaceful changes of government. But, one thing that societies tend to do is reach breaking points, when old habits get overturned so that the change that people strive for can occur. Politicians think that the adage “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” has not had a basis in people’s minds. But, most Jamaicans are not fools and they also are not very good at heaping shame on themselves.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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