Recently I went to an agent to place an advertisement in the Sunday Gleaner newspaper. Before going I checked to see the deadline for placing an advertisement. The general time given on their website is 7 pm on Thursday. Knowing that this newspaper’s agent is opened until that given time, I reached at a few minutes past 3 only to be told that 3 o’clock was their deadline. A security guard at the door intervened and told me that the bearer hadn’t come yet so I could fill out the form and as long as I finished doing so before the bearer arrived. He did the same for a friend who came in after me.
In this situation as so often I have experienced in Jamaca, it is those at the bottom of the social ladder that seem to exercise critical thinking skills while those at the top don’t. They seem intent on blindly adhering to rules without thinking them through. In this situation they were so blindly following the rules that they were prepared to deprive their organisation of revenue while the security guard using his critical thinking skills recognized that flexibility could be exercised in the situation and revenue was able to be earned.
Critical thinking skills are fundamental to effective problem solving. So often most of these skills I have seen demonstrated by people at the lower end of the social order. For example, having a gardener who showed me how to make a tap washer from a an old tyre tube to low paid security guards who can navigate you in and out of the most difficult parking situations.
Classism ensures that much of the country’s intellectual prowess is locked into low paying menial labour. A consequence of a country driven by strong social prejudice which values status over ability. A social order in which people who have addresses in certain poor violence communities are ignored by prospective employers when they apply for jobs.
The end result of people being locked into low paying jobs is that they cannot qualify for better paying jobs which would utilize their intellectual prowess and result in higher output which would enable the country would have more revenue going into the treasury to meet its various commitments. Many of these excluded persons end up in many different types of anti-social behaviour becoming a liability instead of a productive asset.
Intransigence of authority figures keeps classism firmly in its place. The prevailing thought is to do things the same way because they have always been done that way. Question nothing. Stifle those who do.
Utimately, the solution is to have leadership that is prepared to utilize the best talents regardless of status. Until then Jamaica’s classism will continue to drive its underdevelopment.
(c) A. Pierre Sobers