Archive for June, 2016

The horrendous acts that transpired in a principally Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) Night Club in Orlando Florida and the raising of the Rainbow Flag at the US Embassy in Kingston plus the “interesting” response of Jamaica’s Attorney General have all combined to reignite the never ending “debate” on the morality, acceptability and rights afforded to the LGBT community in Jamaica.

Rather than some expansive prose, below is a list of my  main sentiments on the LGBT discourse in Jamaica in general and the above-mentioned incidents in particular.

  1. I am a Christian. My views on the morality of homosexuality are largely influenced by that. So if I am honest with myself I am not 100% comfortable with it.
  2. Christianity or no, the notions of Universal Human Rights are also a part of my personal morals.
  3. The right to life, the right to freedom of conscience (which enables free speech/free expression freedom of and from religion), and the right to freedom from discrimination based on being the member of some target group are all things that I value.
  4. With the above in mind especially freedom of conscience, privacy and non-discrimination I do not believe it is my place to impose my chosen way of life and perspective on another free adult.
  5. No matter how queasy certain things make me feel personally, what consenting adults do in their life, that is not significantly affecting me or the rights of others is their business.
  6. Tolerance is the standard that both sides of this divide should be striving towards. But tolerance can have a negative connotation so probably we can shift the standard to “mutual respect for difference.”
  7. Persons with strong moral objections to homosexuality and those who are far more liberal perhaps will never ever truly agree.
  8. However, those who object, should accept that moral objection does not have to be twinned with hate and discrimination and those who are more liberal should accept that not every moral objection is one of hate or means that the homophobia label must be attached.
  9. However, objectors especially self-professed Christians/religious people definitely need to realise, that the nature of their objection, particularly the inconsistency in the amount of effort spent on this sin versus others, helps to sow the seeds of hate and intolerance in a space where constructive conversation from a position of respectful disagreement may be more useful. It is this hate and aggression that when unchecked or continuously stoked that can lead to heinous hate crimes
  10. With respect to the night club in particular, if in any way you rejoiced in what has happened then you may need to look into your humanity. No matter what you feel about a man, that man has blood running through his veins. A life is a life and we should mourn any loss of life. Suggesting that this was somehow God inspired retribution would logically imply t hat the poor little children who died in Sandy Hook a couple years back were also somehow being punished. Careful with that line of thinking.
  11. I understand the persons who say but why is international outrage always more, when the lives lost are from “The West” I really do and I agree wholeheartedly. Evil acts occur daily but popular sentiment is skewed towards the west and/or groups with a strong international voice. But still a life is a life. So don’t position this as an either/or choice. And what irks me is that the same crowd that is quick to say “so what about what happened in X” often have nothing to say on these issues until something else happens and they bring it up as the reason they are not going to participate in the newer outcry. Let us, mourn and where possible do what we can to prevent tragedies no matter where they are. Also understanding the biases of the global media, don’t assume everybody knows of every tragedy that you do. Spread the word, help others understand issues that you understand better or know of before them. People who are willingly ignorant on the other hand…light them up for sure.
  12. With respect to the flag at the embassy, again, personally not my favourite thing, but my personal view shouldn’t and legally cannot stop others from utilizing their fundamental right of free expression, also as pseudo sovereign space of the US Government the larger message I feel was support for one set of citizens that were collectively mourning. I can’t see the big fuss with that in and of itself.
  13. I do however also think that a subtle or even not so subtle chess move/power play was also opportunistically taken by the embassy to remind us of their advocacy for a shift in popular opinion on the matter at hand. This utilization of soft hegemonic aka gently flexing that “world boss” power in this case is more offensive and noteworthy to me than what the flag itself represents.
  14. Late night tweets are not always the wisest decisions.
  15. Finally, pretty sure that the fire and brimstone and liberal coalitions will both take issue with aspects of this, but on this day I feel comfortable in where I stand. Just hope if you disagree we can do so respectfully and have a reasoned discussion if not…Oh well!

 

Peace/Salaam/Shalom

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Three days ago I sat satisfying my regular need for social media and saw what I thought would be an article par excellence pop up on my newsfeed from one of the regular social commentators in Jamaica that I respect, even if I don’t always agree with the views he espouses. The article I refer to was published in the Jamaica Gleaner on Sunday June 5, 2016 and is entitled “Why Campion is So Loved and Hated” by Gordon Robinson.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20160605/gordon-robinson-why-campion-so-loved-and-hated

The topic is very near and dear to me due to my being the proud if sometimes reluctant sibling of a Campion alumna and *whispers* a one-time Campion College aspiring student (prior to divine intervention). This experience has made it more obvious to me than the average joe that Campion College may be the most opinion splitting, controversy stirring and divisive institution in Jamaican society and a lot of the reason for this actually is no fault of the institution itself.

So recognizing the above reality and acknowledging the literary prowess and infinitely sharp mind of Sir Robinson I eagerly awaited the well nuanced and balanced discussion of this lightning rod that is Campion. Unfortunately, but not altogether surprisingly, Mr. Robinson took the default position that many more contemporary Campionites take when the rest of society leans in on them with  the mostly unwarranted negative sentiments – he presented us with the combination of the litany of reasons Campion is great, blended with the subtle condescension that “you all really wish you were us.” And to top it off for me on a personal level, for no apparent reason Mr. Robinson sought to juxtapose the virtue of Campion by pejoratively comparing the strong Jesuit ethos of Campion to, what for him is the seemingly useless braggadocio of the motto “The Brave May Fall But Never Yield.”

Don’t get me wrong either, I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Robinson’s quite brilliant depiction of why Campion is a truly great institution that all Jamaicans should be proud of. And indeed we all should really be proud and I go on further to state that the Jesuit principles that have guided the school’s development and that are so ably described by Mr. Robinson should really form a template for the development of truly rounded citizens for the benefit of the Jamaican society.

But what Mr. Robinson has robbed us of is balance. Though mostly unjustified, there are perfectly reasonable explanations as to why Campion is not everybody’s cup of tea, not least of which is the subtle and not so subtle reminders that Campionites give us that we wish we were them. Though the catch 22 there is that sometimes that is the response of an attacked animal backed into a corner. But still what the article I eagerly awaited did not do was adequately account for what Campion has become a symbol of. Though Mr. Robinson merely mentioned it in an almost throw away fashion, Campion for all the developmental strengths it possesses does get the nation’s best students in large measure thus possessing a strong leg up on everyone else. Also a large swath of the school’s modern day population and I may venture to posit its “back in the day” population as well consisted of societies well to do. Simply put, in a gravely inequitable education system which foreshadows a probably more inequitable society on a whole, Campion has unwittingly become to many a symbol of this social stratification.

So I agree with Mr. Robinson that some of the persons who were dying for Campion to lose this years’ School’s Challenge Quiz Final need to grapple with some internal insecurities and perhaps even inferiority complexes. (Although this year people had many legitimate grouses not with Campion but how the Organizers handled Campion’s matches, but that is for another day.) Notwithstanding this agreement, what I expected from Mr. Robinson, and was left disappointed, was an honest acknowledgement that a lot of the anti-Campion sentiment also emerges from it being a symbol, right or wrong, for the social divides that mar our Jamaican existence.

SELAH!!!

PS –  To Sir Robinson, though you may disparage it, beyond the bar talk and the obnoxious bravado, the words “The Brave May Fall But Never Yield” have been a rallying cry that has steered many otherwise rudderless young men from lives of obscurity and strife to the upper echelons of success in their chosen fields of endeavor. And for those who may have not reached such lofty heights, the spirit of the Rt.Reverend PW Gibson, which those words channel gives us a reminder that though we face challenges we can overcome. I am sure you can acknowledge that beyond the Old Boys who won’t grow up, the Fortis ethos is of great value as is that of the strong Jesuit philosophy.

Fortis, Fortes…Respect.