Take this introspective but exploratory question: “What makes jerk pork of Jamaica less of a world beater than Big Mac of McDonald’s or the Whopper of Burger King?”
With less than one hour of work, in the home of the Big Mac or the Whopper, a minimum wage earner can buy either. With one hour of work, the minimum wage earner in Jamaica can buy neither. More to the point, the latter cannot approach the Jerk Pork shop to buy half-pound of jerk pork.
This denial of service to the Jamaican worker is not rooted in structural or colonial policy or any discriminatory legacy beyond which we, as Jamaicans, have internalized and consider worthy and useful to be a barrier to the people’s “bright and out of order” disposition to want to eat Big. In other words, our price and availability of Big Mac, Whopper, and Jerk Pork in Jamaica are conspicuously geared to deny access to the common man.
Looking at it from that angle, which society would you consider being a world-beater, the one which makes burgers a thoughtless indulgence to which you can invite others, or the one that makes Burger and Jerk Pork aspirational?
We have a funny and dangerous way of seeing things and misunderstanding what it takes to succeed. For jerk pork- or even patty – to be superior to Big Mac or Whopper, Jamaica has to be committed to the idea that Jamaicans deserve that treat at a very affordable price and back that commitment with policies that guarantee volume and access to sources from local production, including the feed. Good luck with that. We have our excuses ready.
The trouble with excuses is that it gives failure a passing grade. It transfers responsibility for “not getting to the pitch of the ball” to the umpire for the unfair lbw decision. For in our view, the ball was moving away and could not possibly have hit the stumps. We keep doing this repeatedly like we are stuck like a needle in a scratch grove of a record.
Which is easier: our excuses or moving our feet to better get to the pitch of the ball?
What constrains our Economy of Scale in any local venture? Is it our small size as Small Islands people? We did sugar and banana.
Is it limited land? Is it too much water or hillside and mountains? I think not.
We do small-scale ventures because the cannibalistic nature of our Anancy and skullduggery is predicated on, and predictive of any chicken that attempts to cross the road.
When you see feathers flying, be aware that the chicken would not have crossed the road if there were no possibilities of drama or “karma” to highlight its vulnerability and susceptibility to misfortune.
The issue to contemplate is not our vulnerability whether occasioned by outside forces or circumstances but our insistence on being vulnerable and insecure to each and every “unforeseen” situation.
Fixing our proclivities to undermine ourselves and in the same breath then bemoan underperformance as an external imposition, have to be recognized and addressed for what it is: a fool’s way of saying failure is ok with the right excuse.
There are various ways of fixing this. Jamaica is in a precarious position in which we have to gently persuade ourselves that we as blackbirds are indeed worthy of powder instead of contempt from each other. That lesson has to begin in our basic schools. Burger and jerk pork will follow in short order as we demonstrate that there is no denial to access or throwing inordinate barriers and obstacles in each other’s way.
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Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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