The best of us and the worst of us
LAST Friday, all we seemed capable of was dissecting the rise and fall of a performer. What is to become of him now has assumed far greater importance than the fact that many of his devoted followers would do better looking to their own advancement rather than tiring themselves in a futile gesture of hopeless hope that he would be set free after a jury had spoken.
In one of the longest murder trials we've seen, the cry of the mob to release unto them their World Boss was not unlike an ancient story being recalled now in the Christian season of Lent. Barabas was released, but the World Boss is back in a cell. The Ides of March — not the one known in dramatic literature — are still to come in the sentencing hearing which lies ahead.
Last week, our mob went howling through city streets, bearing aloft the obligatory cardboard banners, crying for "justice" and "Free di Boss". As usual, the women led the way. They all looked strangely familiar, as if we'd seen them before running and shouting in somebody else's cause.
In academia, there was weeping, moaning and gnashing of teeth — we imagine — at the possibility of missing a new thesis, another elevation on the way to the higher heights of intellectual gratification. Later, the hero's mother publicly denounced those who she said had dealt unjustly with her beloved son: "Him nuh do nutten," she wailed. Mothers can always be counted on to bring in the "not guilty" verdict. Our children, especially our sons, are not the villains they're said to be, according to their mothers. However, the jury really had spoken, regardless of shrieks of surprise at the outcome. It was not what was expected, according to Uptown logic.
Some would like to carve the dreaded word corruption on our foreheads. This time brave men and women fulfilled their obligations by doing the right thing, leaving others to be amazed. Our national self-esteem is so low that "good citizens" had expected that justice would have been "sold out". Just as we were about to change the national motto to "Can anything good come out of this place," to the public's shock and surprise there are far more persons of integrity, courage and decency than we had chosen to believe. Now, if only they would convict some of the 'tappanares' who have managed to avoid trial for so long. It is they who are giving justice a bad name.
For their reward, unfortunately, some of the persons who put their lives on the line to demonstrate, not with the piece of cardboard and the howling in the streets, but actually working to achieve justice, have to be encircled by protectors, lest the wicked try to settle the score. This has resulted in some foolishness. The protection given to such persons associated with the trial should not be taken lightly. Too much publicity is being given to this which certainly could not make the jurors, court staff and others less than comfortable.
Meanwhile, the wicked must be quite pleased that they are striking fear into the hearts of the good citizens who will take their place the next time the call to service comes. As the World Boss awaits his day of sentencing, some of us are left to ponder, what do these lyrics mean? "Chop him up fine and fling him inna bush/Fi yuh rotten and stink and smell and pop." Pardon me while I gag... artistic excellence you say?
Ghost plane in the sky
The country and western ballad about "ghost riders in the sky" is being challenged by something far more eerie. A jet plane with over 200 persons on board, including a three year-old boy, has vanished into thin air. Despite the search with the most modern of technology, it is nearly two weeks now and still the plane, passengers and crew are nowhere to be seen. Television news around the world is focussed totally on where can the ghost plane be. While scientific theories abound, a woman gave advice to our audiences here at home, declaring that she has the answer. It is the Rapture, a holy phenomenon which had taken the plane up into Heaven. Okay! The news up to yesterday morning was that pieces of what could be debris from the plane were spotted somewhere off Australian waters, but by today it could be somewhere else.
While the theorists theorise, imagine the daily anguish of uncertainty being experienced by the families and associates of those persons aboard that ghost plane. No wonder a mother in Malaysia passed the breaking point the other morning and erupted into a volcano of grief, immediately photographed and telecast around the world. Not even a mother's grief is private anymore.
Win or lose?
The news that our erstwhile Chinese business partners are intending to use coal to fuel the proposed development at Goat Islands or thereabouts has added another fire stick to the conflagration. Scientists differ about the efficiency of clean coal technology. Environmentalists refuse to budge even a mini-inch in their belief that this could be the end of fresh air as we know it. Current pictures of Chinese citizens walking around with face masks, while reports abound of unspeakable illnesses plaguing the people have not helped to change opinions that coal as fuel is unacceptable. So, what's next for us here? The lure of jobs, jobs and more jobs is not going to be given up lightly. So will it be win or lose?
Another question awaiting answer follows on the recent announcement of a super-casino development being funded by an American company. The offer of thousands and thousands of jobs, inside and out of the great gambling place sounds really, really good, but is it really, really true? You know what they say about what sounds too good to be true. We have to contend also with the warning about Greeks bearing gifts.
Despite all the sweet-talking, casinos still carry visions of shady dealings. Who will be ensuring specialised security, not just for the casino operations, but for the community which apparently is to be Western Jamaica? These are issues which should be publicly discussed and listened to without the usual Gordon House clashes. Yes, we need the jobs, jobs, jobs, but we also need lives, lives, lives and a future, future, future. Let's get serious.
RECOMMENDED READING: Jamaican-English Member of Parliament Diane Abbot's column in the Sunday Observer couple Sundays ago. Read that, and anything else you can find about the casino industry and why it attracts so many questions of integrity. The Church led a spirited debate on this topic some time ago, but they're silent now. Maybe they grew tired. It's off the agenda now. Replaced by prosperity gospel, perhaps?