Columns

Sunday afternoon at Half-Way-Tree

Barbara GLOUDON

Friday, July 04, 2014    

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After last Sunday afternoon we seem to be seeing a new development in the relationship between Church and State or the political platform and the pulpit.

Half-Way-Tree Square was seemingly being prepared as a launching pad for General Elections, when the time comes, with contenders marking out their spots from which to bring the good news to the faithful that it is time to go forth into the field of battle.

When the church took over the square last Sunday afternoon, what were they announcing? What was the message being sent to the assembly, bussed in, it is said, from even the far reaches of the island?

I wasn't there on Sunday afternoon, so it was left to media to educate me and others. The event, we learned, had all the trappings of big things going on, from the big music, to the barriers keeping back the crowd. Then, there was the run-jostle about how many persons came to hear the message. Some said 25,000. Some wanted it to be in the hundreds of thousands. To prove what?

There were speeches — of course. Had this been an event solely under a religious banner, a few altar calls might have been expected, but perspective was maintained, according to what I was told.

Through the media, we learned of the helicopter hovering overhead. We heard, too, of the presence of a drone, that mysterious 'Star Wars' invention which can ascend into the sky unmanned, to spy upon the mortals down below. There must have been a mistake. Who would want covert surveillance over a church rally? Things not so bad that... or?

Let's settle for the fact that the drone was a communication tool. That's what I heard. Carry go, bring come.

As to the attendance figures, the radio audience heard an exchange between a commentator and an organiser arguing about crowd size. Was it nothing more than pride in a project successfully carried out... or what? Each held ground until the moment fizzled.

Half-Way-Tree leaves many questions. Who is the real power behind this campaign/crusade? Who foots the bill and what is the eventual goal? Will there be other Sundays in the Square? It ain't over yet.

The Half-Way-Tree outing was preceded, if you recall, with the concern that the rights of a respected individual had been disrespected, leading to dismissal from his job and abrogation of his right to speak. This brought on public protest with demonstrations dramatising with taped-shut mouths. This was followed by daily picketing outside UWI premises.

Through all this, the professor kept silent, even when the issue headed for the Courts, where an injunction was given, decreeing that he should regain his job. The order was given but the protests continued. Next thing, the focus shifted to Half-Way-Tree with the assembling of a multitude who came, not to demonstrate for freedom of speech apparently, but to save us all from dastardly men whose activities must be curbed if the nation is to be saved.

WHERE TO NOW? Last Sunday afternoon's drama revealed that some seem to be depending on a political agenda. The exhortation to the multitude to "get enumerated" demonstrated that there are hopes for a referendum to come someday. Whatever it is, the promise of defeat of "pro-gayism" should be seen as the objective. Stand by for the next chapter in this compelling drama.

Madame Lagarde

We move now to a matter of urgency. When it was made known that the executive head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was coming to town, some persons indulged in a moment of delusional reflection as to what could come of this. Would Mama IMF "gie we a bly" by commanding the Government to "tek the pressure" off the dollar, ease up on the conditionalities and let us eat something else besides chicken back?

The poor need more... and others even more still. When it became evident that Madame Lagarde would do no such thing, the tone changed. Our ugly side began to come out.

From news carried, it was sweetness and light when representatives of the various sectors got dressed up and put on their smiling faces to meet and greet, a gesture which Madame Lagarde found pleasing.

Furthermore, we made her feel so welcome that she said she wanted to come back for a holiday, but by the time she left we had begun to remove the mask. Man-in-the street began cussing because she didn't ease the dollar squeeze. Politicians were ready to declare that she doesn't know what she's doing. In messages on social media, it was boldly stated that her visit was part of a deeper plot to squeeze us more... Audley sent her a letter (perhaps as a souvenir) telling why he doesn't like devaluation. Ah well! You can't win them all.

Next time (if there is ever one), we will also have to do some protocol-grooming. The lady is properly referred to as Madame Lagarde, not Mrs or Christine, as if she and us are friend and company. Sad thing is that manners out of style at home and abroad. Maybe we're not as sophisticated as others would like us to believe.

Back at her desk, the woman regarded as one of the most powerful in the world, must be wondering if Jamaica is worth her time. Why do we refuse to face reality?

CHANGE THE TUNE: It is just over a week or so that the various exam results came out, providing opportunity for lamentation and celebration at one and the same time. Naysayers are still picking on schools which didn't make the grade. Praises haven't been as loud as they should be for the schools which beat the odds and came in winners. Try to get hold of the performance results in the CSEC exams.

The latest assessment is based on a three-year average in Quality Scores in English Language and Mathematics, the two areas of study which seem to cause the greatest pain. We harp on our children's low achievement in these subjects. When they do well, however, who cares?

Somebody should "tek shame" and salute those students and teachers from areas urban and rural who have proved naysayers wrong. As Granny used to say, "Encouragement sweetens labour".

LAST LICK: Would Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington really bamboozle us about why he's chosen to retire at this time? Nobody wants to believe that he left voluntarily. Scandal is more up our street. By yesterday talk-show callers were weighing in with more and more bizarre theories, ie he was going to give a permit to the gays to let them have a march of their own. He had to be stopped. He took the initiative to leave. You'd be surprised that this was defended as gospel truth. Walk good, yuh hear, sir.

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