Saturday, January 27, 2007

Proposals for Positive Change in the UK

The government has decreed that all areas of the curriculum include diversity issues in order to combat myopia and racism and promote ‘Britishness.’ The proposals are a knee jerk reaction to recent times where various British people have announced their racism to the world. In short the government is embarrassed and seem to think measures like this will solve the problem. It won’t.

The curriculum is already crowded. And kids have enough tests, so much so that the emphasis is on meeting targets and not educating kids. Therein lays the great problem. Kids and by extension adults in the UK are no longer educated very well. This in conjunction with what has morphed into a ‘lowest common denominator’ culture over the years contributes to ignorance which leads to racism. Education and culture needs to be tackled and in a particular way.

Also the foolishness that there is a positive common British culture or Britishness must be dispensed with. The papers always say that the hallmarks of ‘Britishness’ are tolerance and fair play etc. This is laughable and recent events on those two channel 4 programmes have shown that to the world.

I have searched myself and I find it hard to come up with positive attributes that sum up Britishness today. I’m not being anti-British but being honest. I may be wrong and if anyone can tell me some true positive British attributes please do. One thing is that yes, it is true that many British people are ‘tolerant’ but this just means they aren’t racist and accept people for who they are. Sorry but you are supposed to be this way, it’s not an attribute for which a group of people should be given special marks for is it? The negatives are really bad though and more importantly, harmful to the British people. They are things such as:

1) An unhealthy attitude towards alcohol
2) Unwillingness to discipline young people
3) Disrespect for older and elderly people
4) ‘Worship’ of sameness and distrust of individuality – everyone must be the same, anyone different is inferior and to be taunted. Unwillingness to stick out. (In order to win you have to by definition stick out.)
5) Lack of interest in current affairs and an unhealthy obsession with ‘celebrities’ i.e. 10th rate individuals who have become notorious, usually for doing nothing relating to talent.
6) Inability to make well thought out decisions and stick with them even if unpopular.
7) Xenophobia
8) General ignorance and un-inquiring minds.

Here’s my suggestions for positive change.

1) Cut out the whole heap of testing and let schools educate kids. Give educators and parents the authority to educate and discipline kids without fear of prosecution. Grow some damn common sense – anyone with a brain can tell the difference between discipline and abuse. Stop the foolishness!

2) Engender a culture whereby being smart is not looked down upon. His Royal Highness used to teach and was telling me one of his students encouraged a classmate to ‘just fail something and then they’ll leave you alone.’ This pretty much sums it up. In many cases here, being smart is seen as a negative. It’s time we British understood that many of our cultural attitudes and practices are counter productive to a progressive society. This attitude is one of them.

3) Amongst the adults, the idiotic attitude that speaking well, doing well and demanding the best of others is somehow anti-British must stop. Stop embracing losing at every thing, stop putting down the wealthy (unless the wealth is ill gotten) and stop accepting the grossly ignorant and debasing behaviour of many others – especially young people.

4) Drink responsibly. Eat before drinking, know your limits, drink chasers, stop thinking of getting drunk as the aim and start thinking of it as a signal you have over indulged.

5) Once the laws are sorted, discipline your kids. Be firm, make smart decisions and then stick to them like glue. Be immovable in a good way. Don’t let the blighters wear you down! With my parents (as with most Caribbean parents) ‘no’ meant ‘no!’ and you knew there was no hope of changing their minds on certain things. In other areas we were allowed to debate and reason out our case. A friend of mine was encouraged to debate with her father about whether or not she could do certain things. So if she wanted to go to a party for instance she would make sure her report card was good, do her chores etc. ask in good time, make sure her Dad knew where she was going and when she would come back etc. and she would often ‘win’ her case. This all helped encourage rational thought too. Also, enrol your kids in some sort of extra-curricular activity that will expand their minds and help improve social skills. Many Caribbean kids are sent to some music lessons or some sports activity outside of school. This is very beneficial. Many of my friends who were sent to piano lessons were able to parlay this skill into an income earner in later years too.

6) Respect your elders – they have often sacrificed and prepared the way for us. Plus they often have some really interesting stories to tell. And hopefully, you too will live long enough to be old. (This is a good thing).

7) Understand that each one of us are individuals. We are not all the same and this is a good thing. Quit ostracising people just because they are different. It is uncivilised and plain stupid. Ostracise people (if you must) for worthwhile reasons (like being a child molester or something bad) not for being themselves.

8) Take an interest in current affairs – they affect you and your loved ones. What Victoria Beckham wore to a movie premier will not take any cash off your council tax bill, so give it the attention it deserves in relation to rulings on council tax bills i.e. less attention. I’m not saying eschew all frivolous pursuits, but put things in perspective.

9) When a decision needs to be made, gather all relevant information, make an informed decision and make it decisively. Even miscalculating is better than inactivity. Stop waffling over things. If you waffle and don’t make decisions, life will make them for you and you may not like what life decides!

10) Let’s crawl out from our own arses - We are not better than people who come from other countries just because we are British. The world is full of people, most of whom by the way are Asian. I believe the UK is about 0.9% of the world population. Get some perspective and enjoy and learn from other cultures.

11) Enquire about things you encounter. If you know nothing about a particular subject or a particular set of people then shut up about them and stop spreading lies. Instead ‘google’ that subject and learn something. Then next time you open your mouth you will sound intelligent and be able to add something progressive to the discourse. Try omitting the following subjects from your conversations over the next month: drunkenness and alcohol; holidays; pets; DIY; celebrities. Acquire a thirst for knowing more and then go and find out more. If you have a question about the habits of someone of another culture or colour – ask them and don’t impose your own fiction on them and then repeat it to others.

There needs to be a common understanding of what the country wants and where it wants to go. And there needs to be a conscious decision to create the best possible future. With the existing culture and behaviour the country will slip further and further into disgraceful cultural squalor. In order for this to not happen there has to be a conscious decision to change.


Big up to mi sistren Dr. Cathy Brown who wowed them at the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival at Half Moon Shopping Village this week. She’s a really nice girl and very talented – met her when I was in University Singers. From the pic in the Gleaner she’s looking good too – the mixture of medicine and music seems to agree with her!


Mad Bull said...

Very interesting post... I plan to link it.

Geoffrey Philp's Blog Spot said...

I came over here on Mad Bull's advice and it was worth it. Sometimes I think the UK is the epitome of Jante's Law (via Professor Zero)and we in Jamaica have been following them without even knowing.

Give thanks to bloggers like you who are exposing the unspoken parts of our culture, so that we can make informed decisions.


Leon said...

Some good ideas there. Personally, I never trusted the Brits.

Chief Lymer said...

Thanks for the big up and link Mad Bull and Leon. Interesting post over by Geoffrey - I don't have any memories from the 70s because I came to JA in 1982. But you are right, when I was in Jamaica it did feel like we were following the British in many ways when in reality they have much to learn from us. Pity I had to leave JA to learn these lessons.


gedinite said...

Excellent reading. Britain has gone to the dogs. The teens of today are the future generation of leaders in this country. These teens can barely spell, don't know the geography of their own country and their idea of entertainment is to get smashed out of their minds either on drugs or alcohol. What hope is there for Britain. The 'Great' went out of its name long long ago.