When I started my blog, I intended to write about my hobby: dog training and breeding. From time to time, however, I found myself needing to write about topics that really got to me, like child and animal abuse. There is one topic that really eats away at me, but I have never written about it, at least until now. It is the rampant indiscipline, crudeness, dishonesty and boorishness of the Jamaican people. Of course let us not forget to add the violent nature too, but that’s for another article.
Today on what was a truly glorious Easter Sunday afternoon, I loaded my car with bags of Easter goodies for a friend and her son, two dogs, one family member and set out for what I expected would be an enjoyable outing. On the way home someone traveling in the opposite direction came around a corner onto my side of the road and hit my car, destroying the exterior mirror on the driver’s side. The person didn’t even bother to stop. The accident happened too fast for me to see the make of the car or its license number.
Not that getting these particulars would have really mattered. I had a similar situation some years ago. Someone broadsided my car while overtaking me at the same time that someone traveling in the opposite direction was overtaking another car, thus effectively turning a two-lane road into four. The driver of the car that hit me didn’t stop. I gave chase, following the offending car into some unsavory neighborhoods before I was able to get the license number. I went to the police station and an officer took my statement and particulars. She then instructed me to return to the station later that day because the person who handles accidents wasn’t available. Upon returning, I was told that the person had left for the day. No one knew where the officer who originally took my statement had disappeared to at that hour of the afternoon, and there was no record that I’d reported the accident earlier that same day. Nothing came of my efforts to report the accident, and I was stuck with the bill for repairs as I will be for this latest accident.
Perhaps the driver of the car that caused the Easter Sunday afternoon accident was distracted. He might have been texting someone, reading a text message, visiting with friends on Facebook, or even chatting on the phone. It’s possible too, that he was simply an unskilled driver who had only recently purchased his license. My passenger commented to me that the sort of person who would drive off after causing an accident would be the sort of person to pull and gun and shoot me if confronted. He tried consoling me by saying that it was probably a good thing that the driver didn’t stop.
I am not the first person to comment on the indiscipline on the roads. Lawmakers, politicians and the populace gripe about it, but there’s really nothing that can be done. It’s a fait accompli that motorists and even pedestrians have no regards for the law, no integrity, and certainly no accountability. Indiscipline is part of the nation’s cultural identity.
Bad Behavior Pervades much of Everday Life
Unfortunately indiscipline and general bad behavior have spread to every facet of life in Jamaica like a debilitating disease, crippling the growth of its citizens and the nation in general. The situation on the roads serves as a microcosm of what goes on in the wider society.
Citizens engage in activities that make them appear to be thumbing their noses at the law, like playing music really loudly into the wee hours of the morning despite the Noise Abatement Act of 1997 which imposes restrictions on the extent to which someone can impose their noise on their neighbors. Then there’s the alarming yet illegal practice of gun salutes at events that strike terror in the hearts of people attending funerals and parties.
At the heart of indiscipline lies a profound lack of integrity, honesty and accountability, which pervades all strata of society, not just the lower, uneducated class.
Dishonesty among the Upper-Class
A few weeks ago I purchased a ticket to attend a concert. As the concert date drew near, I realized that other obligations would prevent me from attending. I gave the ticket to a lady at church, which is located in an upscale neighborhood that caters to the spiritual needs of the upper-class. This lady said she would bring the money to me the next time she saw me. I’m still waiting. Now, this woman sees me every Thursday for choir rehearsal, because she sings in the choir; and she sees me every Sunday, because she is a “good Anglican” who attends Mass regularly. And yes, I’ve even made an egregious breech of etiquette and asked for the money. It’s still not forthcoming.
Now I’m not so naïve to think that just because this woman is a “good Anglican” that she would be honest. The island of Jamaica has more churches of every denomination than one could possibly imagine; yet, it distinguishes itself by having one of the highest murder rates in the world. My point here is that this is not a ghetto woman, and one would not expect such behavior from someone like her.
Not All Jamaicans are Bad People
I must pause here for a moment and make this disclaimer: Not all Jamaicans are dishonest and undisciplined. A few descent people, who were actually born and raised here, inhabit the island. My houseboy/gardener, for instance, frequently asks for an advance on his pay because the cost of living is so impossibly high. His work ethic and integrity is such that I’m always happy to help him out when I can. I know that he will show up for work to earn the money. He always does.
The Bad Seed Ends up in Foreign Countries
Unfortunately, Jamaicans choose to take their bad behavior with them whenever they visit or take up residence in other countries, whether legally or illegally. These countries do not want Jamaicans contaminating their culture with bad behavior, because they already have problems of their own. South American countries, for instance, have begun tightening visa restrictions on Jamaicans. They are only the latest country to do so. Just recently England and Cayman imposed restrictions of their own. Why? Because Jamaicans have proven themselves to be a violent, ill-mannered, gun-toting, weed-smoking lot with no regard for life or property.
Although aware of the image that they present to the world, Jamaicans continue to persist in their bad behavior, then grumble about being treated like second-class citizens in foreign countries. Perhaps if these countries slammed their doors in the faces of Jamaicans seeking entry that would turn up the volume of their message cause a seismic shift in Jamaica’s culture. We would probably end up with an island that could enter the ranks of the civilized world.