“Jamaica is not going to get rich selling to three million people who are relatively poor,” says Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill. Sounds like gospel? Many of us have been fed this rubbish.
What this statement reveals in no uncertain terms is the poverty that afflicts us. Specifically, the disregard and contempt with which we hold each other and the transactional nature of our interaction.
In short, “We are for sale but not to the likes of unuh broke ass Jamaicans.” And this is the shout and echo of the people we install as leaders. Is it any wonder we are consigned to being poor?
Has anyone ever considered or been confronted with the idea that poverty is not a function of money or resources? Or that we- like the man sitting years at the pool of Siloam have become the primary consumers of our own excuses to defend, explain and indemnify us from the harsh glare of our sickness, even as healing beckons excitedly to meet her halfway?
“If poverty is not about money or resources, what is poverty about?”
I’ll answer it this way, “Poverty is about how we think and the relationship we foster with each other.”
Let’s say my definition is a little hazy, so let’s approach poverty or wealth from another angle. Let’s say three million people in Japan want to buy our coffee at an agreed price and advance half of the price upfront. As a betting person, what are the odds Jamaica will meet the quota or deadline? If not, why not?
Same thing for pineapple. If not, why not?
Ginger. If not, why not?
See the pattern?
We- not just like our leaders- but as reflected by our leaders do not think well enough of ourselves or our fellow Jamaicans to embark on any significant coordinating or cooperating effort. This says a lot about who we are.
Different experts and sages have bellowed since the 70s, “Export or die!” We have largely done or suffered the latter. Can you not already hear? “If we had exported as we have been encouraged, we would not be poor today?” That’s self-serving, delusional nonsense.
Export is the province of collaborative enterprise, trust, commitment to excellence, and satisfaction, all backed by integrity. I’ll leave that determination of whether Jamaica commands a premium on those prerequisites to you.
It is important, however, that the things we tell ourselves and the things we allow our leaders to say to and about us be truths that unleash our power. For as much as it may profit any person to look down on anyone and prescribe the arc of their demise or say where and why that person failed, that is not success. Success is helping that man who is cast down and catching hell to find and reach for heaven within his grasp.
Talking truth to power is a necessary start in unleashing the power of truth. We can worship at the altar of folly or decide that leadership and values must reflect the best of whom we are and who we want to be.
That doesn’t begin with export or die, but it certainly begins by challenging the notion that you are what others tell you that you are. Especially if they look down on you when making their snarking and snide remarks. Hell No!
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Peter Peterkin, Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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