Many development economists are of the view that there is a link between culture and development. They cite the Protestant Ethic — “the Calvinist theology that changed the spirit of capitalism, transforming it into a rational and unashamed pursuit of profit for its own sake” and Asian values — “filial piety (a Confucian concept derived from Chinese culture, which advocates a set of moral norms, values, and practices of respect and caring for one’s parents) and deference to seniority”.
In 1994, Percival Patterson, the prime minister of Jamaica then, initiated a programme called “Values and Attitudes.” The former Prime Minister initiated his “Values and Attitude” campaign with the expressed intention of addressing indiscipline, incivility and violence” in Jamaican society. He further reiterated his call in 2018 for the reintroduction of such a programme.
Jamaica is notorious for having one of the highest homicide rates in the world. In 2022, 1,498 homicides were recorded.
The Jamaican “dance hall” genre has gained global recognition. However, many critics have labelled the musical genre as advocating violence.
A Don Anderson poll in 2022 found that 82% of Jamaicans believe there is a link between violence and “Dance Hall” music.
An article in the Jamaica Gleaner in 2022 noted “The Broadcasting Commission has imposed an immediate ban on the playing of music that, among other things, promotes or glorifies lottery scamming, the use of the illicit drug Molly, and illegal guns.” In a statement, the commission said the directive to radio stations reinforces its commitment to keeping airwaves free of harmful content given the important role traditional media still plays as agents of socialisation.”
There are parallels between Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). The homicide rate in SVG is one of the highest in the world and ranks among the top 10 countries on Earth. The number of homicides in 2022 was 42 — the highest on record, possibly moving us up the ranking on the world chart.
Violence against women is another global chart topper, which was sitting comfortably at number one in the world, a few years ago.
The “Dance Hall” musical genre is by far the most popular music on the airwaves and in the minivans locally. Ironically, many of the songs played on the airwaves in this country are banned in Jamaica.
The Jamaican “unique” expletives and slangs have now become part of our vernacular — not surprising, given the extent of dance hall music played on the airwave. Who could forget that Peter Tosh song in the early 1980s – “Oh B**boc***t,” that was played on the lone local radio station then, while banned in Jamaica?
There are other instances that arouse consternation among the Vincentian public.
In the mid-1990s, a young man at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, where a match was being played by the West Indies was caught on camera globally, urinating in front of other spectators in the grounds section of the Arnos Vale Playing Field. Several years ago, a vehicle went into the Murray Road River and rescuers were allegedly more interested in helping themselves with personal chattel than the injured occupant of the vehicle.
Listening to most young men’s conversations, there is a preoccupation with guns. They seem more interested in owning a gun than learning a skill. There are reports around town that alleged hitmen (deceased or alive) were/are taking $500 to put down an execution job. How can one equate a human life to a monetary value — more so, a paltry sum EC$500? Who would have believed that in a small country like SVG we would have kidnappings, drive-by shootings and even a bank robbery? Is it time to introduce a “Values and Attitude” programme in this country?
SVG is primarily a tourism-based economy, hence, we cannot underscore the importance of values and attitudes among the populace to ensure our competitiveness in the region. Our values and attitudes would impact our customer service in the hospitality industry. So often we hear complaints of poor customer service when patronising business places.
And how can we forget the impact of “values and attitude” on our work ethic?
Male marginalisation is another issue that the authorities need to look at. Professor Errol Miller wrote about “Men in crisis,” when exploring the marginalisation of males in Caribbean society. The current Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orbán spoke on this very issue in 2022. He noted that disrupting the traditional social order, where the male is viewed as the head of the household can lead to the breakdown of society. However, in most government ministries in SVG, employment is highly skewed in favour of the female sex.
Our values and attitude would define who we are as a people, which was aptly summed up by Mahatma Gandhi:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,/ Your thoughts become your words,/Your words become your actions,/ Your actions become your habits, / Your habits become your values, / Your values become your destiny.”
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].