Our false sense of national pride

August 12, 2016
File: Sprinter Usain Bolt waves the Jamaican flag
AP Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce carries the flag of Jamaica during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last Friday.

By the time you will be reading this, Jamaica would have begun its campaign on the track as the Olympic Games in Rio really gets going for this nation of 2.7 million people.

When Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Frazer-Pryce begin chasing history in Rio, here in Jamaica citizens will exhibiting their usual national 'pride'.

A week removed from the island's celebrations of its 54th year of independence, Jamaicans will, for the next nine days, once again don the national colours right down to their underwear.

Flags will be attached to cars and emotional, sometimes ignorant statements will be posted on social media.

For the nine days starting today, emotions will ebb and flow in tandem with the fortunes of our athletes on the track and in the field.

The more the athletes win the more our chests will swell as we proclaim being the best in the world.

But are we really? Yes, people like Bolt, Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson and Omar McLeod are among the best in the world. But as a country, are we?

That right there, is my concern.

In these fleeting moments, every other year or so when our sporting heroes shine, we develop this false sense of pride about this country. I call it a false sense of pride because once the euphoria wears off we go back to being the Jamaica we have become uncaring, selfish, violent and lethargic.

When is our true national pride going to become something other than a nine-day wonder?

True national pride means we do what is necessary to make our country truly great. It means we do what we can to rid ourselves of the mindset that we have to engage in corrupt practices just to be able to get ahead.

It means doing what we can to get ourselves educated and trained so that we can use those skill sets for the betterment of ourselves, our families and our country.

Having a true sense of national pride means that when we travel overseas we put our best foot forward and not do anything to bring shame to the nation.

It means that when someone sees a Jamaican they see an example for others to follow.

Unfortunately, for too many of us, that is not the case. For too many of us, it is never about representing our country. We like to copy the USA and we become annoyed when Americans express their national pride.

But if you look more closely you will see that they express that pride 24/7-365; they don't need the Olympics, World Championships, Spelling Bee or a Miss World or Miss Universe competition to feel like we are a great people.

What would make me proud is if we could just find it in ourselves to start doing the things that make us great each day, every day. I would love for us to start working together to make our country as crime-free as possible.

I would love for us to stop throwing our garbage into the gullies and start driving responsibly on the roads.

I would love for us to start using our creativity to change the world in which we live, creations that will make individuals rich and their country even richer; the things that reflect the values espoused in our national pledge.

"Before God and All mankind, I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart.

The wisdom and courage of my mind, the strength and vigour of my body in the service of my fellow citizens.

I promise to stand up for justice, brotherhood and peace, to work diligently and creatively,

To think generously and honestly, so that, Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship

and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race."

If we can do that, then we would have cause to be proud all the time instead of only when a few of us rise to excellence in service to this nation.

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