I expect little from politicians, personally. I also don’t hold them in great reverence; most don’t show me reasoning capacity of the highest order; their emotional outburst make me question the balance of their views; and in Jamaica, I’m concerned about their constant attempts to appear be the source of all good things people want, but sadly too often, primarily, for their own supporters.
What I expect is a good ear and a real appreciation of national and local issues. So in that vein, I wonder what they really understand about mask-wearing resistance.
Do Jamaicans respect noise abatement rules? Most do; many don’t. Do Jamaicans respect road traffic rules? Most do, many don’t and a particular subgroup—-taxi and minibus drivers—don’t to a degree far greater than the rest of us. Do Jamaicans expect to be given concessions, let off and given second chances for egregious behaviour? Yes, and with good reason, based on actual experience with government.
So, with a background of patchy compliance with most things, what should we expect over something as seemingly trivial as wearing masks?
I’m just going to take a look at what COVID19LIFE is getting us to accept and understand in that regard.
I went to play golf at dawn, yesterday, as I often do on Saturdays. After weeks of heavy rain, the club had warned about mosquitoes in abundance and urged long-sleeved shirt and long pants. I’d forgotten that last week and found I was the special on the menu 🤔😳😩🏌🏾♂️Fool me once…
I had the picture taken because I dress like this only at this time of year; the mosquitoes at Caymanas are savage.😩😳
Golf allows lots of human interactions but with lots of social distancing. Those working at the course adhere to COVID protocols; caddies and course maintenance staff wear masks most of the time as they move around the course. Naturally, when far from anyone one can see their masks in place other than covering their faces. Players are usually good at compliance; on the course, they are the same as those who work there, and many have added not using caddies as a form of added protection—not having additional personal interaction (bad for the caddies’ pockets, though). Many players do not mingle in the bar areas but sit on the balcony, well-spaced and ventilated and use the hand sanitizters before heading on into the main building. I tackled someone entering the bar last week without a mask (not a man I recognized, so I assume a visitor)—the sign stated clearly no mask no service—but he had to be an exception: “I’m just paying my tab.” I gave him the choice of 7 iron or 3 wood up his a**e. 🤔😡Sorry, I’m not tolerant!
After golf, I headed home with two errands in mind, get cash and buy bananas. Well, the two Scotia ABMs by the gas station at Washington Boulevard/Molynes Rd had a dozen people waiting outside them so I didn’t stop there. (I noticed though that they were mostly masked and about 2m apart; some couldn’t help being up under armpits, though.) That meant I had no money for bananas. Aargh! I could use Qwisk or my credit card? What’re you smoking, bro? 🤔😂😩So I drove though the small street market at Grants Pen Rd/Shortwood Rd and just observed. Masks were more evident than last week, though this was a spot check not a structured survey.
My observations last week (scenes in the video) had triggered a response from the MP:
My ABM errand had to wait till closer to home. The line at the Texaco gas station was short but the mask issue loomed large:
It’s obvious some people don’t get what ‘personal responsibility’ means, so despite efforts by others, we’re worse off than we need be:
Mask wearing is proving to be a bigger test than many expected; it’s also pushing at boundaries of personal liberties for some—the USA seems to be the main battleground. It could also indicate some mental problems:
It’s also about messaging. It’s also about if incentives are needed, either sticks or carrots. When pushed, governments have gone for sticks. It’s hard to think what carrots would work. In using sticks, some governments have also pushed closer to dictatorial measures. That’s not been tried in Jamaica, and I’d not think it’d be well received.
Is some cognitive dissonance at work?—conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behavior, as displayed when people know the bad effects of certain ‘recreational’ drugs but still take them.
When Jamaicans have been asked by health officials about their understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic, they answer overwhelmingly that they understand what it is and how it spreads, but…many believe they wont get it. That belief is bolstered, I imagine, because deaths have been low in relative terms and even the number of cases is low, relatively speaking. So, it’s a mild form of denial, I guess. However, that’s why many feel they have nothing to spread as well as nothing to catch. The important feature that most people will be infected by not show symptoms either hasn’t factored in, or people really believe that unless you see or hear the symptoms, nothing is being passed around. That said, we’ve heard stories of near panic when someone sneezed in a confined space.
Government officials in many countries have dug their own graves on messages by being as mixed up as fruit salad in how they’ve followed rules or been the arch buffoon in how not to wear masks.
What know is those who understood the need apply it. Mark Wignall wrote about this behaviour in today’s Sunday Gleaner. He noted the denials: ‘One said to me, “Missa Wignall, big respect. None a wi right here so know anybody whey sick wid di virus, so right now, wi feel safe. Respect.”’ He also pointed to what I have noted, that ‘personal responsibility’ if for others to practice: ‘So we are stuck with what we know. Jamaicans know, to a large extent, that we all need to protect ourselves, but from my talks with many at street level, they somehow believe that if ‘others’ do what is right, all will, in time, be okay. That is plainly dangerous.’ (my stress).
That final point, is for me, too true and points to a grave and obvious danger, because the fight in Jamaica against the pandemic is not even and is for everyone but ourselves to fight, in the mind of too many.