In the same issue, separate article, Esther Tyson, principal of Ardene High School definitively asserts that the problems in our nation arise out of the dysfunctions within family structure. According to Tyson, the "traditional family structure" in Jamaica, is becoming obsolete as more Jamaican women are seemingly rejecting marriage.
While, there is merit in the concerns espoused by both respectable Jamaicans, who I am certain have the best interest of this nation at heart, i want to posit that we cannot continue to play the blame game or offer symptomatic treatments. There is a bigger issue which is at the core of the decadence of which the two, who represent a moral ethos in Jamaica, speak. This bigger issue, which i wish to submit as the causal factor (not symptomatic) is the disrespect of humanity.
From a theological (analogous) sense, the clear mandate given at the culmination of creation was that man should take care of creation. A mistreatment of that which has been entrusted to him causes creation to lash back at man. Man indiscriminately cuts down trees and that leads to erosion and flooding and a host of other spin- off effects; man continues to pollute the air and that results in the depletion of the O-zone layer. Similarly, if man treats humanity poorly, humanity will resist all forms of oppression, marginalisation and infringements of rights; meeting those with violence if needs be. The imposition of one's version of right on others through discrimination or sanctions or criminalisation is not a preservation of "morality". On the contrary, it cuts against the grain of morality itself, for, morality must be based on the value that is placed on humanity first, not systems. Our systems cannot become more important than the people they were made to serve (not enslave). If we should learn anything from slavery, it is that it was always met with resistance and revolts as the enslaved refused to have their humanity "dissed" by the system of the day. Can our poilcy makers take any lesson from this? When we refuse to do enough to protect the poor from inequity and injustice, we are creating an embittered; disenfranchised society, vulnerable to the symptoms: violence, prostitution, robbery and the like. It is the causes of these that become the sin. I, therefore submit to Bignal, that it is the disrespect to humanity, not simply lack of accountability that has contributed to the John-Crow beads instead of pearls, of which he speaks.
Moreover, the simplistic offerings that was fed in Tyson's article beg the question from sophisticated thinkers, "What is the traditional family structure that you speak of?" I often wonder about all these "traditional" concepts of which we speak, while we dub ourselves progressive. If we must get traditional, then the point she posits about single parent families contributing to the social melee becomes antithetical. According to African tradition, it takes a village to raise a child. Therefore, even the efforts of a nuclear family (the ideal for the moral authorities) will be inconsequential in ensuring stable, well adapted citizens. Certainly, the idea of a village raising a child does not abolish the concept of individualism. In fact, it highlights the responsibility of every individual towards humanity. So I asked these "moralists" who look from their ivory towers, untouched by the decadence to which they turn the noses up: what is your response when you see young girls and boys peddling while they should be at school? what si your response when powerful men exploit poor young girls and get the pregnant (creating the unmarried mothers that you spoke disparagingly about)? What is your response to those who are adamant that men and women are abused and ostracised or even banished because of their sexual orientation? Where is the sense of morality then? Remember, that when Humanity and dignity are undermined because of whatever prejudices we may have, then Morality only exists in the mind and not reality and to exist in reality is far more important than to exist only as a concept.