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Ungratefulness among some Jamaicans

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

I have always been fond of the authentic Jamaican spirit — the one that causes me to miss home whenever I visit international spaces. When we zoom out of the focus on socio-economic atrocities that forcibly overcast the true Jamaican aura, we will surely remember the love, warmth, and generosity among us as a people. We will also smile at the thought of our rich reggae culture that provides us with rhythmical healing for when the music hits, we feel no pain.

As well, we will recollect our interest in maintaining our social vibe as we gather in groups at home or at the river to 'run a boat'. Oh how I value the nostalgia I experience whenever I am away because it is that feeling which causes me to increasingly cherish home.

Unfortunately, a characteristic of the Jamaican essence I described is threatened by the gloom of ungratefulness manifested by a large number of Jamaicans who show little to no appreciation for the good anyone does for them. In a context where we struggle to overcome the negative effects of COVID-19, and seek to preserve the Jamaican atmosphere of neighbourliness and generosity, there are some people who are determined to exterminate the positive vibrations 'wid dem ungrateful self'.

As we know, May is celebrated as Child Month. It is during this time students express thanks to teachers; children show indebtedness to mothers and different institutions such as the family, school and church; as well as everyone invests additional effort in making children feel loved and treasured. In order to ensure children are not left uncertain about whether or not school administration and teachers still care about them, school personnel, such as teachers from the Baillieston Primary School, made the journey to different homes to issue gifts to their students. The children, who have not caught the spirit of ingratitude, joyously raced towards friendly and affectionate faces to receive their tokens that included books, games, stationery, etc. This experience is one that gives us a ray of hope in a time when we could easily succumb to the despair of the pandemic.

The happy feeling I had when I heard about the school's altruistic venture was shattered when I learned of the off-putting responses from some of the parents. One mother asked a teacher, “A wah kina gif' dem ya?” Another parent, whose child received a storybook, questioned, “Yuh no know seh mi can buy book to?” This appalling lack of gratitude shocked me into a state of cryogenesis, as I was left frozen, and wide-eyed. Can you imagine if all their children received from their school was a message through WhatsApp? They certainly would not have felt the same appreciation I did because they would have blatantly ignored the idea that it is the thought that counts.

Other instances in which ungraciousness is glaring include the Government's attempts to help ensure citizens are provided for by issuing care packages in the form of food items, and care grants given to those individuals who are most financially affected by our COVID-19 experiences. Many individuals did not appreciate the food items they received, and without any expression of thanks for the monetary assistance, some citizens churlishly complained about the extended lines they joined to collect money at remittance agencies. If the thoughtful people of Jamaica were to let the unpleasant behaviours impact them they would abandon any intention to undertake acts of kindness and concern. However, I encourage us all to remain in good-naturedness as we endeavour to retain our bona fide Jamaican spirit.

Fiona Rowe, thank you for joining the team from Baillieston Primary who challenged precipitous terrains in north-western Clarendon to deliver presents to our island's children; continue to make your students feel loved. To the Government of Jamaica, take heart in knowing that not everyone in Jamaica is unappreciative and, at the end of the day, no one can deny the efforts you do make for the people.

To all the ungrateful 'massive an crew', try to learn thankfulness and practise it. It augurs well for a pleasant Jamaica. Peace and love.


Ardene Reid-Virtue is a senior lecturer at Church Teachers' College. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or