Politics is like war
The often repeated and overly romanticised line, 'I was born and raised in the ghetto,' is my true story.
Yeah, I grew up on the border of Rose Town and Trench Town. And every chance I get, I try to revisit the space, observe the changes and reconnect with the social, structural and natural environment. The place speaks to me. It is calling me to do more. I want to answer the call. I would love to be able to help facilitate ways for people in my old neighbourhood and similar areas to uplift themselves and their communities in tangible and sustainable ways.
So, I'm thinking about getting into politics. No, is not a joke me a run. I've actually considered, and still continue to seriously consider the idea of getting into representational politics as a way to help to make some of the changes I think need to be made with and for my people. And I think I have the requisite skills and abilities and enthusiasm.
But there's a problem. There's no chance of being elected in Jamaica either at the local government or parliamentary level unless it's with one of the two major political parties. And the ways things run inna our land, once you join one party you become an enemy of everyone who supports the other one. Half of Jamaica would see me as friend and the other half see me as foe with whom conflict and contempt colour every conversation. And that's discouraging, mi nah lie. Politics is like war. And war is worrisome weight that crushes the soul. I'm also reluctant about being any kind of crusader.
And it's not cowardice; it's maybe tiredness. I'm deeply wary of joining anything that sets me up in a fight with my brother and a quarrel with my sister in the name of some idea, ideology or doctrine. I'm weary of the devil of discord. And that spirit seems to characterise political engagement around the globe. Yes peeps, we live in a world increasingly polarised, especially along racial lines and characterised by populist protectionism. And it's no longer funny. It's scary.
Look here nuh, the same divisive xenophobic sentiments and hysteria around immigrants and refugees that seemed to have fuelled shocking victory for the 'leave' vote in Britain's recent referendum on its membership in the European Union can also fuel the election of Donald Trump to the position of President of the United States! Yes, it could happen. And as Caribbean nations not averse to following European fashion, we can look for some Caricom referendum on the horizon.
Call me idealistic, but I can't work with anything that is pushing division and fragmentation. I believe in cooperation even across lines of differences. I truly believe that we can have productive conversations across political lines and facilitate discourses without self-righteous condemnation and cynical mistrust. I think we can promote our political preferences, preach and practise our religious beliefs, and live our chosen lives without using our personal choices and/or inherited identities as rationale for ugly fight and bitter exchanges with everyone who chooses or identifies differently.
The sad fact is, I don't see space for such engagements in the current Jamaican political arena. So I continue to sit on the sidelines and ponder. But, as actor Jesse Williams said in a stirring and now viral speech as he accepted a BET award for his humanitarian work last Sunday, "...a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do." So I'm going to get up and stand up and get involved. You're wondering which party, right? Yeah, me too. Would you vote for me?