Columns

Palm Sunday in August

By Michael Burke

Thursday, August 16, 2012    

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So the celebration of our Golden Jubilee of political Independence continues as we bask in our success at the recently concluded Olympic Games. Jamaica's Olympic athletes are enjoying a Palm Sunday experience although on the church calendar the event is observed in either March or April (depending on the movement of the moon). Hurricane Ernesto diverted and this allowed the Independence celebrations to take place, which in turn helped to build the momentum that Jamaica enjoys as a result of the Olympic successes.

Hurricane Charlie hit Jamaica on August 17, 1951. Two years later on August 15, 1953, the Roman Catholic Church Vicariate of Jamaica (as it was then) dedicated the island to Our Lady of the Assumption. In Roman Catholic teaching the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven due to her sinlessness. I am aware that most Jamaicans, 97 per cent of whom are not Roman Catholic, ignore and dismiss such teachings. But since Jamaica was dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, we have had the eye of only one hurricane (Hurricane Gilbert in 1988). While most Jamaicans see this as a mere coincidence, it does not fully explain the phenomenon.

And every year in August, on either the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption (August 15) or the Sunday before or after the date, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston makes a pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Morant Bay, and usually there is a demonstration of faith with a march through the town, just as there was last Sunday. More than one priest this year while saying Mass, drew similarities been Mary's obedience to the Word (Luke 1:38) and the Olympic athletes' obedience to their coaches.

As the headline suggests, we Jamaicans are experiencing Palm Sunday in August. But while on that Sunday palms were placed at Jesus' feet on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, by the Friday the same crowd was shouting, "Crucify him!" This is the sort of thing that happens in Jamaica. As beauty is said to be skin-deep, Jamaica's nationalism is "glory-deep" because of mental slavery and other conditions. The people of Jerusalem were at that stage of development 2000 years ago at the time of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

We will get back to normal, which in Jamaica means crime, indiscipline, absent parents - particularly fathers, police brutality, and the oppressive nature of capitalist economics which is aggravated by mental slavery and the class system. Our Olympic athletes all made great efforts whether they won, lost or were injured. But in our glory-deep nationalism, have we been as understanding and congratulatory of the athletes who either lost or were injured, especially Asafa Powell?

And what of Usain Bolt himself, the man of the year, or is it the millennium? He has a case to answer in traffic court. Should the charge be withdrawn just because he is Usain Bolt? If that happens, what sort of example would we be setting? Whatever the verdict, Bolt is not to be fully blamed. Some of us opined that he needed counselling but others ignored the calls.

One should be aware that the success of athletes at the Olympic level depends on their total obedience to their coaches. And this is why when Usain Bolt misspoke a few years ago in revealing to the whole world that he smoked ganja as a child, I asked him on the only occasion that I ever spoke to him, if he listened to anyone apart from his coach. I was not angry with Usain who I guessed might not have known better. I blamed those around Bolt for being too concerned about how much money they could make from his fame to think of Usain Bolt the human being.

There will be types like Carl Lewis who are envious of Usain Bolt and Jamaica. They will suggest that Usain Bolt should undergo more drug testing, even though he is tested like all other athletes before each race. But when I heard Bolt misspeak four years ago, it sounded like giving ammunition to the enemy, which both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible warn us not to do. No, Lewis did not go as far as to remind the world of Bolt's misspeak to support his argument, but someone else might. While there is no use "crying over spilt milk", I hope we all learn from that.

When people like me stated three or four years ago that then Prime Minister Bruce Golding had gone overboard in granting Usain too many honours, many could not forget the Bolt phenomenon to objectively think of what we were saying and writing. I suspect that Golding overdecorated Usain Bolt with honours mainly for political reasons. But as life would have it, other factors (read Manatt, Phelps and Phillips) might have nullified any expected political benefit. Bruce Golding resigned, Andrew Holness became prime minister, and the Jamaica Labour Party was voted out of office.

Palm Sunday in August is one thing. Let us hope and pray that we do not have Good Friday in December.

ekrubm765@yahoo.com

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