WE are men of immense capacity but small achievement. Our forefathers carved time and gave the bits names to fit the capacity of our puny minds. We use these to manipulate reality, make sense of the unknown and navigate our species to a better place. We have not done this very well. We mark hours, days, years; our birth and death dates; we etch days of mourning and celebration but live as wretches. So we search prophecy, even the occult; we know the tapestry is continuous, ineffable; it is our time that's limited. Mankind has a mission; what is ours? We do not keep up, we keep starting over. Why?
A new year incites my dark musings. We alone can make 2013 a new beginning. Our fathers cast their bread on the waters; it was soggy, inedible; they hoped and died. Our ambition is rampant, achievement modest, our finitude patent. Whether you or I prosper is up to us; we make our own history. For some, theirs is writ large, others ride the slipstream, most get no mention. When our number is called, we go; we may make news if untimely ripped by evil men. Sure our leaders failed us, but we failed ourselves as we are not hungry for success and do not demand accountability. What gets a rise out of us?
Our 50 years is writ in sand; many say we are bound for a better place where wrongs will be made right; that we are the heirs of some largesse in some place, and we should dedicate our waking hours to this hope. Is it founded? At times we are startled by hints at another life construct and ponder other scenarios. An acute insight triggered by near death or dream sequence extol capacities we imagine -- we can float in space; connect with beings who do not obey our metrics; gravity, magnetism, black holes, God particle bespeak higher origins and we feel a new glow immutable, ineffable, sometimes plangent, palpable as the unseen person breathing in the adjacent room. We were made for glory. We were not made to suffer. We are not cart mules with bits in our mouth to be reined in and driven. We are men!
Yet we do not love ourselves. We elect horrible governments; why is our judgement so bad? There is no wisdom in this crowd, with apologies to Surowiecki's "Wisdom of Crowds" (2004). In those days I was sure "the decision of many is more valid than the few"; his anecdotes and studies reinforced the 19th century mantra of collective wisdom accurately shaping decisions. Here the individual is more crucial as the crowd lacks these higher order skills. Crowd behaviour and groupthink is dominant, even officially sanctioned, as we have few original thinkers. Cognition, coordination and cooperation are not usually found in groups, committees, Cabinets or crowds. The collective fails us. Few reason, few independent thinkers and few process information well. We increase the size of our Parliament and find its wisdom inverse to its size. Will we prosper with more MPs? A larger Cabinet? Why not a Parliament of 100 MPs? The fleet of shiny SUVs outside Gordon House is breathtaking, the performance inside is asphyxiating. The SUV is a leveller, all are equal; who government? who opposition? This is not Surowiecki's crowd.
Peter can make history. The stars are aligned but more to the point, preparation meets opportunity. Dark times form heroes. One shot at glory! Will he take the high road? Will we see prosperity? Our parents died in hope; will we die in Constant Spring? If life is not prospering self, friends, family, nation, what then? So everyone prospers but we suffer? Can we not be heroes even in our own drama? We are hewn from the tree of slavery, entwined with many nations; must we die in economic purgatory? Others sneer "the Jamaicans started to build and could not finish!" or "you are all so gifted!" or "we visited for a week, your land is beautiful, what happy people!" Lies, all lies and tourist claptrap! I am no travel agent. Life is a bitch! This stomach-churning praise is not the lot of our disadvantaged masses. What does 2013 hold for us? Frankly very little, and since it's dark shall we all whistle to summon some Dutch courage?
Citizen, why are you powerless? Why are you rubbish at choosing leaders? Citizen, you sing the tune of the IMF. Are you in a strange land? Sing your own tune. We have been lied to and deceived for 50 years. We are not prosperous. Where is the son of Nanny, Sharpe, Gordon or Bogle? Where is the daughter? Citizen, you danced and dined, cohabited and slept, sated and senseless. Rise and face your future. We want more, we have so wanted for decades. It eluded our fathers; it eludes us. It is not irrational for suffering people to make merry in hard times. We need respite to avoid neuroses, psychoses, even halitosis! Citizen, you are feisty and stab your neighbour if he disses you, so why are you loath to fix your nation? Why not take a stab at revolutionary change in 2013? Ahhaaa!
For decades we try uplifting metaphors, inspiration and positive energy. Our leaders spout non sequiturs: "work together", "unite" and "don't be selfish, share!" You first sir! For many leaders life is office, ego, gain, family, business, the IMF, the nation -- in that order. Our fiscal cliff is a gully but they still "canna cross it". The "Wisdom of Crowds" proffers the value of informed, pooled judgement; accurate decisions. It's not consensus, groupthink or a love-in. There is little wisdom in our crowd and the larger the crowd the less wisdom. Political parties have fallen prey to this; yet to use a crowd to decide, draft, compose is the death of innovation. Revolution moves a crowd but is not made by a crowd. A herd of two-tonne buffalo graze within flimsy wire fences and never touch; it is the sharp sound from outside that starts the stampede. The wisdom in the crowd does not create change. Most teamwork is the genius of one man massaged to death by the group, boards or Parliament. They know the "firestarter" who ignites the moot. The failure of our leaders is not in thought or planning but in delivery. Michael the visionary, Edward the planner, Percival the strategist; Lord, "is because we black?" Stay conscious my friend!
EZROY MILLWOOD rose from small beginnings to the top of his game. As consultant I worked with him and the Registrar of Co-ops to hammer out the shape of NTCS -- a beautiful concept in empowerment, grossly under- resourced. My team developed logistics and schedules for over 800 buses at start-up; uniforms, discipline, service as per Ezroy's British experience.
Blossom Bailey was his right arm, even in midnight meetings. In 2012 he told me "welcome back"; my president's booming voice subdued; a brief flicker as we reprise the vision; bludgeoned by broken dreams and broken promises. I fear his legacy will not reflect his idealism. Was it worth it? "Ahhhh, Dr J" -- the eloquence of monosyllables.
Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education. email@example.com