Champs – Jamaica’s premier athletic championship has just concluded with a sixth straight win for my alma mater Calabar! If Champs were a domino competition that would be called six love and at least a round of celebratory drinks would be in order.
Speaking of order, Dennis G Jones a Jamaican-born former International Monetary Fund senior economist recently wrote an article titled “Champs: Another mess, but any accountability”? His missive outlined the disorderly and chaotic ticketing process. The editors of this newspaper also expressed concern about the “ticketing arrangements’” and an Observer reader described the scene thusly: ‘when I reached the national stadium Saturday and ready to get my tickets, it was total chaos….”
Can you imagine what would happen if the events at Champs reflected the same level of disorder as the ticketing process? Athletes of different classes in the same race? 2 or 3 assigned to the same lane? The high jump landing pad straddling the track finish line?
We don’t need to make up examples of disorder in Jamaica. One need only visit our markets and vending areas, drive on our roads, take public transport or visit any very popular local food establishment at peak hour, to see disorder at work.
As Jamaicans, we struggle with order. We find order difficult to attain and maintain. As we continue our dialogue about pillars for a prosperous society, I strongly believe that order is the fifth pillar we need.
Disorder- how did we get here?
Were we ever an orderly society? I hold the view that the decade after independence, saw some clear semblance of order moving us toward a bright future as an independent nation.
The 70’s and 80’s were the years of breakdown. Remember ideas such as: No bastard no deh again? Unmarried pregnant teachers became en vogue in school; rights, new licence and prestige were given to ‘out of wedlock’ parents. The impact of these changing attitudes was rapid breakdown of families.
Honour for teachers, pastors, doctors, inspectors and other authority figures in the community eroded. Indiscipline and disorder in schools became allowable as children’s rights were elevated above their responsibilities and those of their parents.
Community leadership was deliberately transferred from positive, upstanding role models to dons for political advantage. Politicians lost control of the communities to the developed donmanship culture. Although this was primarily in Kingston, in time it spread island wide.
By the 90’s disorder was the established and accepted order. Indiscipline, disorder, corruption, bandoloo, garrisons were out of control. Guns, dons, badmanism, lewd music, gal inna bungle, fear, informer fi dead, robot taxi, hustling, beg yuh a ting, easy yuhself, shut yuhmout, ganja smoking, man free Iyah, nutten nah gwaan, crime and violence now enveloped society.
In the face of widespread disorder that blurred the preferred order it gave rise to many self generated shades of negative order that some of the players of the disorder in their own way sought to fix by becoming the ‘one order’. This only underscores that negative cannot produce positive. Our national disorder needs replacement with ORDER speedily.
When chaos, disorder and indiscipline take over a society it can only be remedied by establishing order. Nothing can go right until order is restored. Good ideas, plans, programs and injection of capital will not accomplish the desired end until order is established. I am strongly suggesting that this is why ALL well- meaning attempts of the governments of the last two decades to fix the country have failed. They are missing this foundation of order that must precede prosperity!
To get order we must first have a clear vision with supporting values, and strong, trusted leaders focused on achieving set goals. With order, everything else will begin to fall into place. Without it, we will keep circling the mountain and cause generations to perish in ‘the wilderness’ of disorder.
Very often we attempt to impose law without order. We have a chaotic situation – such as vending on the streets – and instead of bringing order to the environment, we make laws to try to corral the chaos. The result is that people experience the law as oppressive. In truth, Order must precede Law. Why is this so?
Causes of disorder
Firstly, there is a natural law called The Law of Increasing Entropy, which states that “A system will always move toward its most disordered state, never in the other direction”. This law is constantly at work against us.
Secondly order must be intentionally engaged and deliberately sustained. This means that unless order is continually reinforced and imposed on any system, it will not be maintained. We cannot just ‘low di ting’. Disorder will result.
Thirdly, authority that is not exercised or improperly exercised will allow disorder to reign. In addition, where authority makes expedient and self-serving decisions, there is often no thought given to the possible disastrous effects of their choices. This is what the political leadership of the 70’s and 80’s did and caused. To date it has not been reversed.
The necessity of order
It is often said the first order of business is order. Tremendous truth is in the statement. Very little of lasting value and beauty can be sustained in an environment of disorder. This applies to personal life, organisations, businesses and nations.
The God of creation set us a pattern – the earth in the Genesis account was in chaos. God’s first intervention was to bring order – to create a framework for structure, systems, creativity, innovation and beauty to develop.
Even criminals understand the need for order. Organised crime syndicates, the most highly structured and managed gangs are always the most ‘successful’ and the most dangerous. This is because order creates efficiency and produces powerful and predictable results. It is really the only way to get anything of note done.
After order, laws and principles of operation were established for maintenance and direction of all. Unfortunately, albeit well intentioned, successive governments in a state of disorder keep establishing laws to regulate the disorder. Failure is inevitable. Divine wisdom is to set order first, then to frame laws to support the order. This approach comes from a positive angle and not negative.
Order and Authority
Order in a nation is the prerogative of the highest authority. Those without authority cannot set or maintain order.
When order breaks down in a society it sounds plausible to say that it is the family, the church, school or some other institution that must fix it. They alone cannot fix it, they are channels through which it can and must be fixed. The highest authority in the land has to take the lead to fix it using these channels.
Because breakdown of order is always a failure of authority, only authority can restore it. When an existing authority does wrong and creates disorder, it requires a new authority to come along to do right to restore order. The new authority will first need to acknowledge the wrong –the disorder – of the previous authority and by its inspiring leadership move to restore order.
This is what empowers the various channels to help effect change and implement the requisite order for advancement. Without the stamp of the highest authority any implementation at the lower levels will be difficult, ineffective and at best slow; and will lack wide scale transformational impact.
Let’s face the truth that over the last 40 years we have allowed an awful, indisciplined, violent, out of control society to develop. The disorder of the bad donmanship culture has been the best order in some ways to control the crime and violence in some areas. Their method of policing has borne more fruit than the correctly placed order of the police. The attempts to displace the “disorder order” have only multiplied the disorder and increased the problems they try to solve.
Why is this such a challenge? It is because current ‘disorder order’ was established by the highest authority at the time. Therefore the sub-channels mentioned cannot solve it. The police cannot solve it. It is going to take the highest authority of the present time to lead the way back from ‘disorder’ to good order. It can be done no other way. Have we not been trying for at least the last two decades with it only worsening? Wake up and smell the coffee as the saying goes. Authority created the disorder and only authority of that level or higher, can restore the Order.
The restoring authority must recognise that disorder is the root problem that hinders growth, development, beauty and success. The restoring authority must be committed to real change; authority with vision, values and passion to see vision fulfilled.
Can it be Done?
We have been failing at attaining order for so long that many will wonder if it is even possible in Jamaica. I suggest that it is; It will take the full engagement of the highest authority in the land – the Prime Minister. In much the same way that he has appointed an Economic Growth Council, this issue of order must be given even higher priority as without order there will be no growth.
The Prime Minister should find a man he can trust and task him to restore order to the country. The Bible tells the story of a man named Joseph who helped the Pharaoh of that time keep his nation away from the disorder and chaos that could have resulted because of a famine.
Pharaoh recognized that he was not in the best position to guide the process. He therefore appointed Joseph, giving him full support. Our nation needs a Joseph – a wise man of integrity and trustworthiness. This is not merely a matter of making new laws; it is a significant social and moral challenge as well. The mind-set of a nation must be transformed. The education system is vital in this process.
The Cost of Disorder
We all know that disorder is rampant but have we really counted the cost? The cost in productive hours lost? Human lives lost? The breakdown of social order?
The ultimate end of disorder is anarchy –total chaos in which it is impossible to govern or indeed to do anything but survive. If we want to thrive as a people we must restore order to the nation. We must establish Godly order in families; in schools; in government and in business. Peace and prosperity will elude us unless and until we restore order.
Copyright © 2017 by Rev Dr. Al Miller.