Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Caribbean people need to re-educate themselves and fight for social change

By Hudson George

Caribbean people need to re-educate themselves to fit into a changing world that is globalised by capitalism. Some of the religious and political values the majority of Caribbean people are trying to hold on to were indoctrinated in them during the colonial era by the capitalists. However, the capitalist system always keeps changing and, with the constant changes in capitalism, moral values within society changes too.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
Unfortunately, the majority of Caribbean people do not understand how the capitalist system functions, and they seem to hold on the Christian values given to them by the capitalists during slavery. In some Caribbean countries people take the law into their own hands and punish citizens who participate in behaviour that is opposite to Christian values. And while the majority of citizens might condone mob rule justice, they are blind to the fact that they too are guilty of going against Christian values. In addition, the Christian values they are trying to hold on to is not what the capitalist media is selling to the Caribbean youth of today, through the media.

Caribbean societies’ Christian values have been compromised with the plantation culture of poverty, promiscuity and illiteracy. Therefore, in all Caribbean societies that claim to be Christianised, it is alright for a man to have children with various women and he will never experience resentment from the mainstream society. And the main reason why some Caribbean men are fathers of many children with different women, goes back to the days of slavery on the plantation when slaves were not allowed to raise a family.

During the period of slavery in the Caribbean, the slaves were not considered to be real human beings. Yet still, they were forced to be Christianised by their colonial masters, but they were not allowed to raise a family. They were considered as their master’s property and the religious leaders on the plantation colonies throughout the Caribbean were supportive of the slave system of such oppression. Today it is very common to hear that religious leaders of those churches that aided and abetted slavery are the ones talking about the lack of moral values in society, when they are the genesis of the problem.

However, the negative effects from that past plantation era still affect some Caribbean people up to this present time. Most Caribbean people’s biggest problem is that they do not read on a daily basis and because of the lack of reading and trying to analyse things, they become paranoid by new cultures introduced into society by the giant capitalist media. Therefore, the only way for Caribbean people to survive in this changing world that they do not have control over is to re-educate themselves.

Some Caribbean folks go to church on a weekly basis and, whatever they were told by the religious minister of church where they worship, they tend to believe everything without taking the extra time and effort to do further research. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why mob rule is very common in some Caribbean countries, whenever a minority of people act in certain ways that the majority of citizens are not accustomed to as part of the norms.

With globalisation and the spread of western cultures into the Caribbean, it is expected that new sub cultures will take root in society. And while the elders keep on defending the old style Caribbean values, the young people are exposed to social media that promote North American lifestyle values. Television news and entertainment influence coming from networks such as BET, CNN create a new mindset for today’s generation of Caribbean youth. Now they have access to iPods and internet cell phones and it is expected that some youths will conform to the foreign culture they see in the media.

In addition, most of the older Caribbean people might try to deny the fact that the usage and popularity of illegal drugs started in the 1960s during the hippie cultural era from the United States and, in the 1970s, the Rastafarian movement spread through the region with music and songs glorifying the smoking of marijuana.

Therefore, with a lack of information through education, some Caribbean people formalised what they think is right from wrong and the value system they created has deep roots in ghetto culture, which is not progressive even though it seems to be entertaining.

Now it is very common to see young Caribbean men trying to act as a macho-man to portray how manly they are in society; while on the other hand, they are lacking professional work skills to make a decent livelihood. However, these young Caribbean men do not realise that a man can only show he is a real macho man when he has a professional skill and a job that pays good wages. In addition, they do not recognise the fact that capitalism and a technology are more macho than they are, because within a capitalist society and a capitalist economy, new and better technology is always needed to keep capitalism functioning at the highest level.

However, the macho-man culture cannot build an economy and it will be impossible for Caribbean countries to make economic progress as long as they keep fighting against changes that have become part of the sub-cultures in western societies, because Caribbean countries still depend on western countries for economic and technical support. And it is not all sub-cultures in western societies that promote macho-man behaviour. However, due to the fact that the genesis of Caribbean societies begins with slavery and colonialism, the legacy of ignorance is still holding back progress and modern thinking.

Additionally, it is very easy to observe that most Caribbean folks do not understand that the societies they are living in are made up of sub-cultures that were imported from outside influence. For example, in some Caribbean countries, marijuana smoking has become part of the popular culture, even though it is an illegal drug according to the law. And if police officers catch users of that drug smoking it, they will be charged for breaking the law. Yet still, there is an increase in the number of people smoking marijuana but there are no functioning organisations with a plans trying to find a solution how to deal with marijuana issue, even though it is very common to hear musician artistes express their love for smoking marijuana.

However, with the lack of proper organisational skills and activism grouping among marijuana smokers, it is expected that they will continue pointing fingers at the police officers who arrest them for using the drug that they consider a holy herb. And unfortunately, they forget that the police role in society is to serve and protect the state according to the laws that govern the nation. It is very important that Caribbean people to re-educate themselves and fight for social change in a professional way. It will make no sense in trying to break the law and sometimes ignorantly making their own laws without the formation of proper political structure and planning.

But the strange thing is that is puzzling, with all the ignorance among some Caribbean people when it comes to dealing with social issues, that they are strong supporters of US President Barack Obama, who wants to bring about some social and political changes for the American people in a democratic and civil manner. However, it was very amazing to see the joy on Caribbean people faces, on the night of the US presidential election when President Obama was re-elected for a second term.

Those of us who are thinking openly and willing to accept changes in society can see clearly that Caribbean people only love President Obama because he is black. They are not paying any attention to Obama’s domestic policy for changing some things within American society. Therefore, based on how they are thinking in terms of dealing with social changes in the Caribbean, their political and social thoughts are more in line with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s conservative backward politics.

They really need to re-educate themselves.

November 21, 2012