We have been fed the ‘personal responsibility’ mantra about dealing with the pandemic for several months. My own personal responsibility is to try to make sense of what goes on around me.
I was heading to help manage a golf tournament yesterday morning. As I stopped at a traffic light, I saw a car cross the carriageway towards me. Rather than go on to the next light and make a U-turn (because Jersey barriers prevent right turns at this point), it passed alongside my car to enter a driveway.
‘Well, I never’, would have been an apt reaction, except often I ever have seen such things. In Jamaica, taxi drivers do such things because they can get away with it.
It’s a broken record to say that lack of enforcement is one of Jamaica’s common weaknesses. With it comes the belief that it’s alright to break rules, no matter the risks.
Yesterday, while I was working, we saw the familiar ‘after the horse has bolted’ ‘enforcement’ effort: a flurry of arrests for people not wearing masks. But, this, after months of tolerating it, despite wearing them in public being mandatory. Rules without consequences are usually useless. What do you believe people think about the rules now lately applied?
But, as I noted, if your nation is built with people like this—rule breaking abetted by weak enforcement—why would you place your trust in their readiness to act for the common good, not the personal gain? You’d have no grounds for not being declared insane. Yet…
My father often said “Don’t be surprised by the obvious.” Yet, Jamaican politicians are repeatedly surprised that people act selfishly.
Why would anyone vote for people like that to be their representatives? Increasingly, they don’t: our lowest national turnout of some 48% in 2016 says so. Increasingly, they vote for what they feel the representatives can give them, literally; they’re a set of ‘free lunches’, and if played right, each will keep ‘feeding’ to keep getting the votes from the others.
September 3, will likely see even lower turnout, though burdened by COVID19 fears. But, underlying sentiment hadn’t much changed, so fewer voters should have been expected anyway.
I rarely take at face value what politicians say. I’m happy to confirm for myself that a ‘truth’ might have been a ‘half truth’, at best, or a blatant lie, at worst. Politicians learn to be master manipulators of information. Their support systems that try to tell you that government only tells the truth are filled with sychophants or brain-washed people. But, that’s not today’s beef soup.
So, on the horns of a dilemma: a population you cannot trust, led by people you cannot trust. Sounds like a bad set of choices, to me.