Open the vent: air quality in Jamaica

I’ve not mastered the art of the ultimate pull when it comes to titles, but I think I have a knack of finding catchy lines.

Jamaica can be an exasperating country, and this week (and maybe a bit longer), my exasper has been much rated. I’ve gotten a little tired of what passes for opinion in many quarters. I could put that down to old age, and that as a budding codger I have reached the end of my tether. So, I just find that my brain latches onto incomplete ideas or bias masquerading as something else.

I listened to RJR News the other evening, as I was driving back to Kingston along the St. Mary road via Junction. My father had taken ill again, and I needed to get home fast. He hails from St. Mary, near Richmond/Highgate, and it seemed right to take that road and think of him as I enjoyed the drive. He’s had a good week and all of my thoughts were with him.

Anyway, I heard the news reporter talking about this or that topic being ‘ventilated’. It seemed an amusing term, and certainly one she liked. I can’t recall ever using it myself regarding opinions or events (if that is not a pun). As the week wore on, it seemed a very good word. Jamaicans really do vent and also need to be vented. We are full of lots of cobwebs in the upper floors of our bodies. Well, I did my venting, and I feel really cleansed. Was I vented enough? I’m not sure.

It may seem pompous, but I like to think that I can learn from anyone and anything. If I feel threatened by someone, I will fight or flee. The armed guard at the patty shop yesterday did not frighten me: I was not about to commit any crime. So, I held the door open for him and said a few words. “Always be vigilant.” My daughter held my hand and shook: “Guns! Scary!” I am glad she had that reaction. I assured her that usually the guns are not aimed or fired at people like us. ‘Bullets’, in other forms, may come our way. She seemed assured and we headed to her piano class.

I have no problem embracing a person or their ideas. I do not own the world’s opinion. Everyone has something to teach me. Sometimes, I learn well; at other times, I am slow on the uptake. I also have no problem rejecting ideas, but still embracing a person. Some of my closest friends are people whose ideas often get my goat. We know our differences and spar over them constantly. I’m trying to get my daughter to understand how some adults can be this way and not actually fight.

But, I’m leery of false friends. Those pool who always “must have me round for dinner”, and years later are still growing the fresh vegetables to go with the meal. Society has many of these, and they are ready to come eat from our table and not give back as they should. Offensive as some may think it, some religious groups are this way. They latch on to some wrongs and seem out to lunch on others. Tired of it! I am not a Bible belter, but their cherry-picking is galling.

One problem I’m wrestling with is which ‘platforms’ support opinions better. A great thing about social media is that traditional media cannot control its voices. A newspaper may have a stated circulation but it may really be limited relative to a blog, online newsletter, Facebook page. Persons using such media don’t have to await the Editor’s approval. That can be powerful. I know people are realizing that more and will watch how use of such spaces develop in coming months.

But, time to rest my brain, at least for a few hours. North coast-bound again, and on Knutsford Express. Mary J Bligh is playing. Lay back. Relax. “Saturday….”