Whose Easter is it anyway?
A member of our business community had a fondness for jokes about people of his Jewish heritage, especially merchants. One day he shared this one with me.
"Jacob had a store in a business district where his people were outnumbered by others of the Christian persuasion. When the Chamber of Commerce got the bright idea to stage a window-dressing competition for Easter, being
non-Christian, Jacob was not expected to compete, but with a big cash prize at stake, he covered over his display window and set to work like the Christians around him.
On Easter morning, the windows were unveiled for the judges. Jacob's window had all the trappings of the Christian story — the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone, and the women who made the discovery of the resurrection. There was also a sign, triumphantly proclaiming: "He is risen — but not Jacob's prices". He had made a profit out of Easter.
Earlier this week one of my colleagues and I were remarking on the way Easter is being observed today. We both agreed that commercialism has invaded what was a festival of faith. My colleague's comment
was: "Religion seems to be leaving Easter."
In the event that you think this is an occasion to battle out theological differences, sorry to disappoint — I'm not going to join the annual debate about whether Easter is of pagan origin as some people insist, and even whether there was such an event at all. A peculiar aspect of our Easter is the annual debate in the newspapers about the validity of Easter, its claims of resurrection and whether we are observing what was originated as a pagan festival. Year after year, after year, the argument goes on.
Religious differences are seldom easily settled. Despite the absence of a resolution, the letters to the Editor make their annual appearance, carrying the same old argument, coming to the same old conclusion surrounded by the advertisements for Easter bun and parties by the seaside. Inside church, believers gather on Easter Day for praise. Outside, the sounds of bacchanal challenge the songs of "Easter triumph and Easter joy".
The phenomenon of imported revelry — Bacchanal from down the Caribbean has completely turned on its head the observance of Easter here. By all accounts, Bacchanal is growing. Originally reserved for Uptown it is being adopted by downtown too and beyond the boundaries of town also. Alongside we seem to be in one big religious mix-up, mix-up.
In recounting the following, I mean no disrespect. Freedom of expression is for everyone, but I did find it curious that on what is known as Palm Sunday, a church group processed through the streets with a cross, usually reserved for Good Friday. The mission of the group seemed to be to call attention to the plight of men in the society. They got media attention but, interestingly, no one asked why they moved Good Friday over to Palm Sunday. Someone will ask, does it really matter? We're a society in charge fi true.
Leaving aside our own questions for now, we have little time apparently, especially among those of us who feel that what is African is ours too, to reflect on what is currently happening in Nigeria. This is a country which we have embraced as close kin. Their style of dress, the visit of their leaders, have all been welcomed by many Jamaicans. Now that they are experiencing painful challenges, we hear no word of empathy in what must be a terrible time.
Muslims have predominated for ages. Christians have had ups and downs with their neighbours over time but none as painful as the events of today, according to what I have heard. The present slaughter of Christians and even Muslims by the group Boko Haram has taken religious division to a new low. It is said since the start of the year well over a thousand Christians have been slain. Events of recent days, including the abduction of a hundred girls from a Christian boarding school, plus the blowing-up of a busy bus centre in the heart of a town. How can this be? At least, we just beat up our gums over those with whom we disagree. We have Nigerians living among us who have become family. We must never fail to give them and others from other lands shelter and freedom in their choice of worship.
Back-a-yard we have some challenges of our own. Let's talk water first. The metereologists and other weather watchers have been dropping word for some time now that dry-weather aka drought, was coming. It is here and we're not happy. Water is indeed life. We can't be blamed for being unhappy when it is not available, but are some of our criticisms of the water authorities entirely justified? Everybody knows how we should get enough water to last as long as we want it. Some of our recommendations are — well, judge for yourself. We have many dam solutions.
A caller to a talk show gave this one: "If all of us would full up ten gallon pails with water and go pour it in the Mona Dam, our water problems would be solved". The more prevalent one is: "Dig mini-dams all over the country and fill them up when rain fall". (And if the rain doesn't fall, what do we do, please?) Of course, we want, need, must have water, but does it come just so? It is not for lack of environmental talk. Don't chop down all the trees of the slopes...Don't denude the forests...Learn to harvest (aka catch) rain water and save it. Duh! When all else fails, cuss the NWC. As for cussing "di govament", that is another matter. Even pickney know how to do dat.
WHERE HAVE all the fish gone? Away, away, nearly everyone. Fish is the dust of the season. They're at the centre of our culinary fame...Scoveitch, fried, steamed, brown-stew...Bring on the bammy and the festival, but first we have to catch the fish. Sad news, bad news. Fresh fish is becoming scarce and scarcer, thanks to abuse of their habitat. Imagine dynamiting fish out of their homes. Imagine mashing up the reefs where they rest. Imagine why we're not listening to what people in the known have been saying over and over and...
Reality drop. It is no longer imagination. Fresh fish is up to $600 a pound. Imagine the price next year, if we don't learn.
MEMO: Don't fool with the Easter bun, mainstay of our Easter economy. Has anybody thought to introduce to the IMF? An even better idea — Peg the dollar to it. It's value has never failed us. Okay-okay. I surrender!