Gilded Patriotism, often referred to as superficial or hollow patriotism, its a term used to describe a distorted form of nationalistic fervor that appears to be grand and genuine on the surface but lacks substantive action and fails to address the core values it claims to uphold. It is a deceptive veil that conceals the true essence of patriotism, diluting its significance and promoting a false sense of unity and pride.
In my opinion, this has been Jamaica’s achilles heel since our independence. A large majority will disagree strongly, while a few may get my point. I assume that majority are those who built their wealth during the formative years of our now country or, those who were able to carve out a ‘likkle piece’ of food. In any event, I will delve into the concept of Jamaica’s Gilded Patriotism, exploring its characteristics, consequences, and the need for a more genuine and inclusive form of national loyalty.
Characteristics of Gilded Patriotism
Gilded Patriotism is characterized by empty gestures, ostentatious displays of national symbols, and jingoistic rhetoric, all of which aim to evoke a sense of loyalty and devotion to the nation. However, beneath this gilded facade lies a lack of true commitment and meaningful action. It often manifests in the form of performative gestures such as flag-waving during annual events, loud patriotic slogans, and exaggerated displays of nationalistic pride during public events. These acts may serve as momentary distractions, designed to create an illusion of unity, but they fail to address the underlying issues that plague a nation.
Consequences of Gilded Patriotism
Jamaica has a habit of prioritizing shallow displays of nationalism over substantial engagement, it hampers progress and stifles critical thinking.
For instance, we have politicians doing photo-ops based on a bathroom being installed in a school, or gifted a water tank. We have protests all over rural parts of our country for basic resources (e.g. water, road and electricity) along with signing numerous MOUs on gender and climate while throwing out the idea of nuclear energy. The obsession with superficial symbols and rituals distracts from the need for genuine civic participation and accountability. Another example, the clamoring for road projects due to CHEC contractors proven results and supposed dominance versus $600m JMD Junction project that rings similar to the launch of highway 2000, the Spanish Town Road Project and the infamous patch patrol that comes out for a ‘likkle corn’ when the masses grumble. All the present major infrastructural projects with international partners should have been undertaken during exchange rates of $1USD:$5-20JMD, outfitting and building our schools, police, hospitals and military. We missed that boat due to the UK/USA geopolitical horseplay along with our local government ineptness. Recently, we had the declaration that Jamaica had no construction firm able to build a hospital to international standards, (not in Singapore). No need to address crime and its legacy with politics and politicians, I know the Jamaican public is ‘fed up to the gills’. One of Jamaica’s star by the way of the maple leaf abandoned one of the major solutions to our country for ‘greedflation’. While the other, swindled out of billions. The latest, I would phrase as our minister did ‘attracting talent’. Can we apply this formula to the vital part of our public sector (e.g. teachers, nursing, police, soldier and doctors)? A national stadium that has produced many talented superstars and it surrounding environs neglected in many ways. The shallowest of them all, the ability to import European cars compared to having a hands-on partnership in transportation operations and public passenger ridership rail/road.
Corruption comes with politics in my view, however, the politician will have to decide whether he’s for having a legacy of serving the people and his country or a legacy of corruption. This behavior fosters an exclusionary attitude, excluding marginalized communities and reinforcing divisions within society. It discourages questioning the status quo and discourages constructive criticism, impeding the growth and development of a nation.
Need for Genuine Patriotism
A shift towards genuine patriotism is imperative to Jamaica’s full economic growth. A return of the Jamaican diaspora en masse to help put an end to the brain drain we have been experiencing since the 1970s. This goes beyond performative acts and embraces a deeper sense of responsibility towards the well-being of the nation. Moreover, to dismiss notions of having overseas diaspora representative in parliament. A vote sure, however, if you are not here to live the law implemented, no way. True patriotism involves active participation in civic affairs, critical engagement with social issues, and a commitment to upholding the principles of justice, equality, and freedom. Leadership recognizes the diversity within a nation and seeks to build bridges rather than create divisions. It encourages dialogue, empathy, and understanding, acknowledging that a strong nation is one that values and respects all its citizens.
Gilded Patriotism may initially captivate with its grandeur, but it ultimately falls short of creating a Jamaica: the Singapore of the Caribbean. True patriotism lies in genuine engagement, inclusivity, and a dedication to the betterment of one’s nation and not tossing garbage out the window of vehicle or while walking. By embracing the principles of genuine patriotism, we can build a stronger and more resilient Jamaica with a realistic 2030 vision.
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