We need uplifting myths and mantras

We need uplifting myths and mantras


Friday, November 22, 2019

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The statistics of the past generation prove there is something very wrong with our workforce and, if as popular wisdom avers, the battle is in the mind, then we are unarmed.

Productivity has been negative for decades and production of legal export crops has fallen. However, growth of illegal export ganja has not abated, nor has rape or murder. What, then, is the relationship of these? By this I mean cause, consequence, or are they in sync for other reasons?

Employers want productivity and politicians and police try as best to control killing, but none succeeds. Can nationalism and love of country inspire us to care, eschew murders, and grow prosperity? Yes!

Cabinet should charge our creatives; artistes, writers, weavers of myth and fable in all media to inspire us out of this murderous economic swamp. The power of words and music are well known in legend and reality; trumpets make biblical walls fall; lyrics inspire action and victory. (Hip hop and spoken word therapy with urban youth, Ian Levy, Journal of Poetry Therapy, 2012). The Bible and William Shakespeare are motivational and Jews win big in family life, sciences, arts, Nobel prizes, and wealth. England, a small island with drum-beating art, poems, plays, and ditties beat all Europe and ruled the greatest global empire ever; who would have thunk it?

Today, China is the world's factory. They pollute so we don't have to. How come? Its command and control economy has price points none can beat, and nationalism is woven into economic life — poetry, prose, plastic arts, fine arts, surface arts; posters, textiles, etc. China's workers produce for country — “A man works for himself and prospers his family; when he works for the nation all families prosper!” Blockbusters set in China entertain abroad, but hundreds of nationalist films and works inspire 800 million workers; nation first!

China just celebrated 70 years, but the production machine was built in the last 35. What was Jamaica doing in 1984? We gripe and moan, but democracies as Greece, France, and Hong Kong are aflame to get action; is Jamaica fireproof? The notion that Jamaica is clinically depressed must not be dismissed lightly. How we hug-up suffering, self-loathing, our remain asleep while Rome burns aura punctuated by violent temper tantrums is not natural. Check this; we get angry at imagined hurts of long dead ancestors but real-time oppression we bear in silence. Crazy! The Bible and Shakespeare are in our psyches and both served our ancestors. The aphorism “Lives of great men do remind us we can make our lives sublime and departing leave behind us footsteps on the sands of time” is British, and we love it, but we need equally pithy, sententious local sayings.

We must dump Anancy and create fables of honesty, heroism; common sense; and productivity. The English had memory gems which our illiterates knew by rote — “Labour for learning before you grow old for learning is better than silver and gold.” Did this fuel lust for degrees?

An older generation wrote, I saw my land in the morning and Song of the Banana Man, and Harry Belafonte's Day 'O are all songs of resilience unto independence. Today our creatives write for the literati of London and New York for esteem and win prizes, and our minstrels perform abroad for riches and fame; not for us.

What of the national project? Is our poet laureate asleep? Why can't our influencers tune their voices to nationalism and deliver a sustained moral, psychological, and productivity boost? So what should we do?

Myths of David and Goliath and God using clouds and light to guide and believing they were chosen worked for Jews. Cabinet needs to grow national pride from school age, so begin projects in 2020 and get private interests on board.

Our creatives are self-absorbed and treat their talent as personal capital to collect rent on; repent! Where is our Alfred Lord Tennyson with patriotic verse? Who replaces guru Rex Nettleford astride fine arts, roots culture and the economy? I lived on fantasy tales. I was the boy who stuck his finger in the dyke, rescued Red Riding Hood, and a knight errant tilting at windmills.

Soviet era Boy Meets Tractor films, in which youth farmed and produced, was a hero and got the pretty girl inspired Russian youth. Germany used film-maker Leni Riefenstahl's work to meet production targets. These techniques can help us. Bring on the creatives!

Can film celebrate hard work, with pace, mystery, adventure, and replace films that glorify violence, ganja, teenage pregnancy, and lawless living? We need books, poster art, social media, massive public murals, etc, with overt and subliminal messaging.

Cabinet must commission nationalist works. We are at wit's end in crime control and the economic growth team booked “5 in 4” but missed the flight. Fables fed Europe's curiosity, courage, honour, wisdom, loyalty, and productivity. Let us create new nationalist myths in glorious multi-media colour so we grow in peace and prosper. Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com.

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