The so­cial cost of dibbi-dibbi pol­i­tics

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE MUCH-PUB­LI­CISED video of a ma­chete-wield­ing mother wal­lop­ing her daugh­ter has drawn much ire from many quar­ters, as well as gen­er­ated some in­ter­est­ing points of view. At the very least, the in­ci­dent has high­lighted, yet again, the dire cir­cum­stances of many within our so­ci­ety; of peo­ple caught in the grip of poverty and so­cial de­cay. I dare­say the mother in ques­tion is just as much the vic­tim as she is the ogre, and while I don’t con­done her ac­tions, I em­pathise.

We are a so­ci­ety of con­flict­ing per­sonas, rang­ing from the well-to-do to the ex­tremely poor. It is worth not­ing that many of our well-to-dos of­ten have a pass­ing ac­quain­tance with the so­cial graces and moral con­duct that we would ex­pect from the more for­tu­nate and ed­u­cated. With re­gard to the lower-in­come strata of so­ci­ety, many peo­ple are dis­in­ter­ested in what is go­ing on in the coun­try and don’t give a damn about other peo­ple; if there is noth­ing in it for them, to hell with it.

So what is re­spon­si­ble for this state of af­fairs? Clearly, it is not merely one’s cir­cum­stances, as the well-to-do so of­ten prove.

Lis­ten to our politi­cians as they scurry to se­cure votes for them­selves and their party. They spend more time vil­i­fy­ing the op­pos­ing can­di­dates rather than sell­ing them­selves as fit and proper per­sons ca­pa­ble of get­ting the job done. Politi­cians are public fig­ures who wield enor­mous in­flu­ence over the so­ci­ety. Ir­re­spon­si­ble words and ac­tions a la pol­i­tics in­evitably have dire con­se­quences, es­pe­cially when their sup­port­ers fol­low suit, not only in terms of vil­i­fy­ing op­pos­ing sup­port­ers, but by tak­ing mat­ters fur­ther, of­ten to the point of vi­o­lence and death.

If some of these politi­cians and their fam­i­lies were to ex­pe­ri­ence these con­se­quences first-hand and feel the peo­ple’s pain, per­haps they would de­sist in their vit­riol.


When peo­ple see their en­vi­ron­ment fall­ing apart around them, they nat­u­rally ex­pect that so­lu­tions will be pro­vided by the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship. But thanks to dibbi-dibbi pol­i­tics, abysmal con­di­tions are com­mon­place in many com­mu­ni­ties, with ba­sic ameni­ties such as gain­ful em­ploy­ment, garbage col­lec­tion and san­i­ta­tion, piped wa­ter and elec­tric­ity be­ing fleet­ing il­lu­sions. Many peo­ple have lost hope. Apathy is their norm, the so­cial fabric hav­ing worn thin.

When par­ents can’t feed their fam­i­lies or send their chil­dren to school, the dis­so­lu­tion of those fam­i­lies be­gins, of­ten­times re­sult­ing in the dis­ap­pear­ance of fa­thers. Un­e­d­u­cated and un­em­ployed moth­ers are forced to raise chil­dren on their own. Any op­por­tu­nity for get­ting money, food or pro­tec­tion is read­ily seized; odd jobs, sell­ing of votes, do­ing favours for po­lit­i­cal hand­outs, re­sort­ing to crime, pros­ti­tu­tion – sur­vival, plain and sim­ple, whether man, woman or pick­ney.

How can we rea­son­ably ex­pect that in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing in such dire cir­cum­stances are go­ing to adapt to so­ci­etal norms and laws that have been es­tab­lished by peo­ple who have never known hunger and de­spair? Such per­sons have be­come im­mune to so­cial niceties and graces. They are of­ten in­ca­pable of rea­son and ra­tio­nale; if things are not go­ing their way, they read­ily re­sort to means which are tried, tested and proven: cloth-filled or anatomy-re­lated lan­guage, box-down, kick-down, lick-down or worse, what­ever it takes. Do unto oth­ers be­fore oth­ers do unto you is an ev­ery­day les­son for chil­dren trapped in these cir­cum­stances.

These symp­toms of so­cial de­cay ex­tend from the bro­ken homes and squalid com­mu­ni­ties into our schools and the wider public do­main. Sense­less stu­den­ton-stu­dent vi­o­lence has forced us to pur­sue the im­ple­men­ta­tion of metal de­tec­tors in schools. Lewd and crude dance­hall lyrics, of­ten pro­mot­ing vi­o­lence and de­nounc­ing in­form­ers, have be­come en­shrined in the so­cial fabric of so­ci­ety and played out in real life. The Vybz are fright­en­ing.

We are in a cri­sis, the re­sult of decades of dis­re­gard for many of the wel­fare is­sues which are fun­da­men­tal to the so­cial fabric of our so­ci­ety. Thanks to dibbi-dibbi pol­i­tics, too many peo­ple liv­ing in dire cir­cum­stances, hav­ing given up hope for a bet­ter day, and are now so fo­cused on ba­sic sur­vival that they are in­ca­pable of and un­in­ter­ested in liv­ing their lives in a man­ner which com­ple­ments so­ci­etal norms. Their lead­ers have failed them, so­ci­ety has failed them, to hell with so­ci­ety.

This is the op­por­tu­nity cost of dib­bidibbi pol­i­tics, which is bankrupt­ing the coun­try fi­nan­cially and morally.


Wolmer’s Girls’ School stu­dents us­ing the pedes­trian cross­ing and with as­sis­tance from the war­den (in the back­ground) on Marescaux Road in Kingston on Mon­day. The area was blocked of on the week­end in or­der to ef­fect re­pairs to the over­head bridge (also in back­ground), used by the stu­dents.

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