The “lock down” and curfew associated with the Covid 19 Pandemic has caused some of us to be more attentive to happenings around the world. The United States of America (USA) is one of the countries that I have admired, mainly for the opportunities that are available for improving oneself in post graduate training. This year I have been literally shocked and frankly appalled at the gradual disintegration of a country that quite recently was the country that led the way in how others wondered “how to cope”, with whatever problems they faced.
The USA is now on a “war-footing” on two fronts. (1) A global pandemic that has seen some nations battle the virus and have recorded success, even after a poor start, while the USA is failing and continues to fail, day after day, week after week. (2) A resurgence of what I choose to call “black pride” with the death on video of a black American George Floyd. The history of black and colored Americans protesting against racism seems to have hit new highs as the prolonged marches and demonstrations leaves one to think that, maybe, this time, a change in how police treat colored and minorities, WILL result in meaningful change. However, a signal lack of leadership at the top of the Administration has resulted in mistake after mistake in how the Covid virus is tackled, despite expert advice from long standing and proven medical experts. Whereas New Zealand, South Korea and other countries have established protocols that have drastically “tamed” the virus, the so called “leader of the free world” has refused, sometimes point blank, to follow scientific advice that could help. Further as protests led by the “Black Lives Matter” movement is causing Corporate and Private businesses to start changes that may improve the lives of black Americans, the leader of the nation, the President, Donald J Trump, continues to stoke division in a country pleading for a unifying voice. So it is in the USA.
Of greater concern, however, is what are we doing here at home battling our own “wars”? We are fighting the global pandemic, but in ways that are now the cause for alarm. The administration of my country seems to use the real problem of “cost” to make errors that will have severe consequences as time goes on. Our infective, hospitalization and death rates from Covid 19 are impressive when compared to richer countries, but the ONLY way to defeat the virus is to identify symptomatic carriers of the virus and isolate them for the now proven 14 days, while continuing to encourage citizens to (a) wear a mask, (b) frequent hand washing and (c) social distancing. We are simply not testing enough, and now the reopening of our borders without mandatory testing of those coming from places where the virus is rampant, relying instead on the “good sense” of those coming to the island is the cause of the now daily report of positives from visitors from the USA and Europe. Our testing capacity is coping with the present load, even though word is now coming out that despite some favored members of the hierarchy being able to obtain results in 24 to 48 hours, the turn-around from test to result is now at 8 to 10 days! Not good enough! Our other “war” is not racism, but what is termed: “classism”. Our security and justice systems seem to be united in ensuring that if you are poor or from a “bad” part of town, your chances of being treated with the rights guaranteed under our constitution is infinitesimally small. The expose of Jamaicans lost in the prison system for years, without trial or in one celebrated case, without nutrition, or being afforded “the process” when allegations of fraud and downright thievery are reported, insuring that years will pass before the possibility of a trial, continues. However, those from the “right class” are afforded “the process” that ensures bail etc. and stay at home, while those from the wrong address or economic wherewithal, are either summarily executed, or brutalized or incarcerated “awaiting completion of investigations”. These abominations, coupled with what could be termed peculiar vigor at prosecuting some Jamaicans of a certain political stripe and a “tip for tat” when anyone of a particular political stripe is exposed is fueling unrest. These peculiarities are not going unnoticed. The youth of Jamaica seem to be becoming more politically aware of the maladies confronting our island. There are younger Jamaicans determined to shake off the shackles of tribalism that have paralyzed us older folks even though we oldsters KNEW that our journey was being derailed by poor leadership. So, to the “youth” with whom I communicate with on different social platforms, I say: “keep on keeping on, change WILL come, if you want it”.