Free as a bird

August 1, in Jamaica, the day will be full of wishes for betterment. Get to somewhere nicer than we are now. The political leaders who urge this will be doubted, for they make such comments too often, yet ask us to believe their latest utterances. But, some may take these words and nod in agreement. Maybe, they are partisans. Perhaps, they gained work or positions from politicians. Many will shake their heads. They look at the lives they lead. Really?

Betterment is about opportunities. Emancipation gave our ancestors chances they had seen blocked before. We grew up with those chances, though, yet some are hell-bent on denying them. Gender wrong. Skin type wrong. Accent wrong. School wrong. Home town wrong. More. The many accidents life throws our way trip or trap us. What good are exhortations?

Free to do what? Free to run from this. Free to try to fight against this. Free to turn blind eyes and deaf ears towards this. The clever ones will give reasons: “You know, we think highly of you, but…”

I met a doctor last week, who told of interview panels trying to select best candidates having their choices overturned by administors who saw ‘better’ candidates, who had less training but happened to be a whiter shade of pale. So obvious as to be offensive.

The barriers are often subtler than that.

Each year, though, we’re asked to keep hoping. For what? Why? You can try to move yourself but that may do little. I’ve tried to help others move. Leave those you touch better off than when you met them. Trying to be selfless can seem selfish to some. Blink. Move on. Keep the good in place. Push back the bad. Don’t wait for thanks.

Today, one of those gestures will take another step…onto a plane for the first time. Leaving the island for the first time. Representing the country for the first time. Emancipation.