In recent weeks, the pot versus the kettle scenario has been taking centre stage in Jamaican politics as both supporters of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) trade barbs and accusations against each other based on the premise that if one has done something wrong then the other side should not be chastised if it does likewise. In other words, it is tit for tat so "ah noh nutten, ah so di ting set".
Most Jamaicans are familiar with the expression "The pot calling the kettle black". According to Wikipedia, this is a proverbial idiom that may be of Spanish origin, of which English versions began to appear in the first half of the 17th century. It means a situation in which somebody accuses someone else of a fault which the accuser shares and, therefore, is an example of psychological projection or hypocrisy. "Use of the expression to discredit or deflect a claim of wrongdoing by attacking the originator of the claim for their own similar behaviour (rather than acknowledging the guilt of both is the tu quoque logical fallacy. As William Penn wrote in his collection Some Fruits of Solitude in Reflections and Maxims (1682): 'If thou has not conquer'd thyself in that which is thy own particular weakness, thou hast no title to virtue tho' thou art free of other men's. For a covetous man to inveigh against prodigality, an atheist against idolatry, a tyrant against rebellion, or a lyer against forgery, and a drunkard against intemperance is for the pot to call the kettle black.' "
If we are to follow this flawed narrative to its vulgar extreme in the Jamaican context, then we are looking at a case of "no better herring, no better barrel". This leaves us all in a state of moral paralysis. The history of Jamaican politics is replete with various examples of wrongdoings, infractions, indiscretions, and outright criminal and undemocratic acts by politicians from both our two major political parties, but this should not be used as the template on which we hold our current leaders and their followers guilty or not guilty.
So, for example, Labourites should not declare that because Comrades used to raid the public purse then nothing is wrong if their party now does the same. And what is even worse, it is the heights of hypocrisy when some of us whose snouts have been in the trough sanctimoniously state that their hands are clean. Indeed, if one were to go by all the scandalous stories now circulating on social media platforms and elsewhere, one would be tempted to think that the Jamaican State is rotten from top to bottom.
The overwhelming perception that this current JLP Administration is corrupt and cannot be trusted has been borne out in poll after poll. The word corruption continues to be on just about everybody's lips whenever the nation's governance structure is put under the microscope.
The latest saga involving House speaker and Trelawny South Member of Parliament Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert with regard to the Integrity Commission fingering her as having not properly disclosed her assets as is required by law to the extent that she now faces some nine charges has no doubt put the Andrew Holness Administration in a pickle, coming as it does against the haunting backdrop of allegations and barroom gossip that the six parliamentarians that are being investigated for illicit gains are likely to be JLP personages.
With so much finger-pointing going on and as the plot thickens in an increasingly volatile pre-election climate, there are fears that at some point we may see this country returning to that bloody period in our history leading up to the 1980 General Election. The potent question is: Which party stands to lose more at this time? The quest for political power oftentimes comes with much treachery and intrigue when patriotism takes a backseat and raw, naked greed takes over. In this vein, Jamaica cannot afford to become another Haiti. The writing is on the wall.
This writer and many well-thinking Jamaicans have for some time been calling for a truth and reconciliation summit so that the pot versus the kettle war can be diffused, but so far most Jamaicans have simply opted to take a backseat, so to speak, divorcing themselves from the political process. This means that all who are left to decide the fate of this country are the diehard supporters of both the JLP and the PNP, so any one of these two political forces that wins the next general election will, for all intents and purposes, continue to be a minority government. Must we be subject to the tyranny of the minority?
Jamaica needs a Moses to lead us out of this state of despair and hopelessness. The spectre of Jamaica becoming a failed State or, even worse, a banana republic is looming on the horizon. A pall of fear hangs over the land and it is not just the fear of the criminals and what they can do to those of us who are law-abiding and want the best for our country regardless of which party is in power.
So even as things continue to fall apart, we see a media house being shot up and a high-profile employee of the Integrity Commission being attacked by hoodlums. What next? This nation is in crisis and both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding need to meet urgently and come out with a joint statement on the affairs of this country after frank and pragmatic discussions. After all, does either of them want to reign over a country that has descended into chaos and is ungovernable?
The pot versus the kettle "cass-cass" must cease!
Lloyd B Smith has been involved full-time in Jamaican media for the past 47 years. He has also served as a Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He hails from western Jamaica where he is popularly known as the Governor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.