Talking about faith

I really don’t want to s spend too much time on Jamaica’s budget but I note that in prime minister Golding’s presentation, he is supposed to be putting emphasis on the youth, initiating a programme called Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP), aimed at helping high school leavers get employed. More like setting them up for business, and a fall.
Basically the programme is to provide small business loans for youths. I sense only a small minority will be able to take up this micro-credit. I’m not aware of any extensive educational process that will allow the HIGH school leaving youth to jump straight into managing a business. Without such a process, most businesses are bound to fail. Budgeted… $250m.
I prefer that the money and energy be put into a revived National Youth Service. Sure it has been tried and failed, but the failure is based on the limited thinking of the implementers.
Under the PNP in the ‘70s, the programme was highly politicized but its eventual failure came from the fact that the emphasis was on soft-hand jobs (no pun intended), like clerical duties. There was also a bit of class warfare going on with uptown parents adamant that their ‘sweet little things’ should not be put to work below Half Way Tree.
But the NYS did help many youth, who eventually ended up making a career where they were placed. Barry Gordon of radio was one, and I was another. My first dip into communications media was via the youth service… so you have that to blame.
The NYS was a brief respite between leaving school and being forced to swim with the sharks in the job market. Even in those days, many of us were aimless and confused… so it prepared us for the future… a waystation so to speak.
The NYS also provided a little subsistence, taking some of the burden from parents, and also allowing the youth to understand concepts of self-sufficiency.
The problem I had with that period and all subsequent similar programmes, is that there was little or no emphasis on nation building. That is, it was useful and nice for the youth to help clear up the clerical backlog in government offices, but that only shaped many of us into pencil pushers.
Yet the needs of the country then and now, remains the much maligned (in our society as in the US) physical labour. We then as now, should be building houses for the indigent, cleaning up territory after hurricanes and fires, gully cleaning, beach cleaning, painting of house and buildings, demolishing burnt-out and abandoned buildings, army training, mechanics, river training. Hard physical labour in the hot sun, something that builds character, make us appreciate hard work.
Now all our youth wants is something soft, where they won’t sweat or get their nikes dirty, and where they can talk on their cellphones forever. We have lost the appreciation for community and country, turning instead into selfish, self-centred little brats. Our youth have no centre, no purpose, no focus.
The Golding YEP won’t help the central problems of inactivity, unemployment and idleness. The youth don’t want to work, you say. That’s because of how we are bringing them up, with a mixed up set of priorities.
“I have faith in the young people of this country. I believe that if we invest that faith in them, they will pay big dividends; they will not let us down”, the prime minister said.
If you really had faith, sir, you would not be feeding them illusions.
***
Jamaicans frequently describe their fellow citizens as those with a ‘crab inna barrel’ mentality. In other words, our tendency to pull down those who are progressing. A prime example of this is Jamaica Observer’s columnist Michael Burke’s attack on Usain Bolt in his column on April 23 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/html/20090422T200000-0500_149952_OBS_HONESTY_YES__STUPIDITY_NO.asp.
The column’s headline is Burke’s response to Bolt having admitted in an interview abroad that as a youth, he had smoked ganja. That’s the honesty part. This honesty according to Burke, was stupid.
Let me first put in context that Usain Bolt has done far more for Jamaica than Michael Burke has ever done or likely to do, given most measurements. And while I respect Burke’s opinion, it points out that he is both arrogant and dishonest.
Burke relates a chat he had with Bolt after the interview, when he introduced himself to Bolt and where Bolt was gracious enough to listen and reply to a man who not only instructed him to lie, but who would shortly publicly question his intelligence.
Burke starts out his inquisition of Bolt by asking him if he listens to anyone apart from his coach. When asked why, Burke said he had assessed Bolt from tv as someone who doesn’t listen. Bolt’s brilliant answer was how can anyone make that assessment based on watching tv?
Burke’s weak retort was that he was ‘in the church’ and had the holy spirit’s gift of discernment. Riiiiiight. Clearly round one goes to Bolt.
This was followed by Burke asking if Bolt was ever counseled how to deal with the media. Bolt told Burke that he has merely spoke the truth and asked if Burke (a man of the church by his own admittance) expected him to lie.
“MB: It is not every lie that is a sin.
Usain: (Laughing) It’s the first I am hearing that.
MB: Jesus Christ did not ask us to be stupid.
Usain: So are you saying I am stupid then?”
At this pace, Burke is certainly getting an intellectual beatdown. Round two to Bolt.
Burke tried to explain the importance of tourism to Bolt, with Bolt countering that he had had done loads of work for the JTB. Round 3, Bolt.
Just those excerpts, written by Burke, tells me that Bolt is not an idiot. But losing the debate caused Burke to take his revenge in the newspaper, his bully pulpit, where he quotes the catholic church that lying is not always sinful.
Burke then decides to make this atrocious statement, “Usain Bolt is obviously influenced by the strong Protestant tradition in Jamaica that inflexibly declares sin to be sin, regardless of the circumstances… With a mindset like that, Usain Bolt is like a loose cannon in international diplomacy which means that he could misspeak again.”.
Now, I have no problem when there is internecine warfare in the church. I wish they would go at it more and eventually exterminate themselves. But as is usual, the religious right have no problem with collateral damage, in this case Usain Bolt.
Now I have many obvious problems with Burke’s reasoning throughout, mainly his convenient approach to the breaking of one of the commandments, “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. Which other commandment does he also choose to be flexible with? When for example, is adultery not adultery? What about theft, murder, idolatry? What are those grey areas?
Burke is someone I call ‘a menu christian’… someone who picks and chooses according to current taste. Apparently he believes that he can interpret laws according to his convenience.
What message is Burke sending to children and young adults? What are his boundaries for lying and other ‘near’ sins? Who decides on flexible sins? Since when is truth bad? Does Bolt ore anyone have a moral obligation not to be truthful?
Prime minister Golding said on BBC that he won’t have any battyman in his Cabinet. Did Burke write a column titled “Honesty yes, Stupidity No”? After all, that comment did trigger an attempted gay boycott of Jamaica’s tourism product. Did Burke chastise the pm for his protestant inflexibility?
Burke doesn’t realize that the association of Jamaica with ganja is very well known and isn’t going to go away. This reputation hasn’t really damaged Jamaica, particularly when the main source of our tourist dollars love the local weed.
There is a great difference between what Bolt said, and the guy on the street harassing every ‘touris’ to buy some weed.
Burke seems to forget that the current president of the United States admitted not only to weed, but to cocaine. A former president admitted to some weed use, though he didn’t ‘inhale’, and a third admitted to ‘lusting in his heart’. All before they were elected. And the country survived, only to be made worse by the religious bigoted and the ex-drunk christian.
I have never met anyone who says they won’t come to Jamaica because of ganja.
Jamaica’s tourism will survive Bolt’s admission, it might even start a new regime for early childhood athletes. Ok, that’s just a bit of levity.
But there is nothing joking about Burke’s condescending and hypocritical attack on Usain Bolt. Jamaica’s problems doesn’t lie with the likes of Usain Bolt, but with the Michael Burkes.
I doubt if Bolt expects an apology… Burke couldn’t catch up to him, mentally or morally.
***
Barack Obama is scheduled to address Notre Dame commencement class on May 17, but his invitation to this so-called prestigious catholic school is causing a flap, based supposedly on Obama’s pro-choice stance on abortion.
Reading many of the blogs, postings and newspaper articles, I wasn’t in the least bit amazed at the level of bigotry outputted on behalf of the catholic nation. Many speakers say that Obama’s position is incompatible with catholicism, which might be true. But how does their position mesh with the pope’s congratulation when Obama was elected president?
I mean, as head of the catholic church, the pope’s example should be followed. Isn’t he the elect of god? Or is the pope… aaah, flexible, Mr Burke?
What hypocrisy by some of those from the school. I’m sure if the star quarterback knocked-up some cheerleader and they decided on an abortion, it would be hush-hush as long as the tv revenues are rolling in. I wonder, do they quiz the footballers for catholic eligibility? Or is this the kind of flexibility that Michael Burke says the catholic faith teaches.
Regarding Obama’s right to speak, there doesn’t seem to be much flexibility at all.
By the way, where in the hell is Notre Dame?

2 thoughts on “Talking about faith

  1. I do like the way you think and I agree (I think) with all you say –as you did say quite a bit.
    Michael Burke should be fired immediately and yet the media seem to prefer this type of individual these days. Guess they sell more papers or whatever.
    As for the Catholic church we know how flexible they can be. They seem to have some rules for their ever sinning parishioners and different ones for their clergy. As an ex-Catholic I know it all too well and I don’t pay any mind to what the church says or the pope for that matter–they have lost my respect. The Dalai Lama is more my kind of guy.
    Still Lewis I wonder sometimes where do our feelings about justice and right and wrong come from. Is it this early influence in our lives of the church and our parents or are we born already wired to think a certain way.
    I am very proud of Mr. Bolt for speaking the truth and I hope he always will.. I hated that Bill Clinton whom I adore, and Mr. Edwards who I never did like, and many others as well have created such damage with their lies, and not only to their families but to all of us who have depended on them as leaders for the truth.
    Your comments on the programs of the past in Jamaica and any future ones are of much interest to me but I feel very pessimistic about changing peoples attitudes towards work. The images on TV and in the media are too seductive to the young who think they can have it all without working for it.
    I think I might be the only one on my street who would even stoop to pick up other peoples beer cans, fast food wrappers etc.. Still I notice more and more people now who have been shamed into walking along with their little bag of dog poop– so perhaps we are trainable-HA!

  2. Hi again Liz. I don’t think that Burke should be fired because he is a columnist and not a journalist. He should be embarrassed yes, but as you note, a columnist is allowed to have ridiculous opinions. What would the world be if we all think alike? And who would I have to comment on, heh?
    Your point about Clinton is noted. If Clinton had just come out and said yes, instead of evasion and lies, you might have had a different opinion of him. He didnt and that I think belittled him.
    Re:Jamaica. I can’t speak at this moment about Jamaicans and their attitude to work. We were once a very industrious people and I know a change has taken place for the worse. How bad the rot is I dont know.
    I agree about tv and this started in the 80’s. That was a Pandora’s box and I’m not sure how we can stuff back all the crap that escaped and continue to infect us. Til

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *