I don’t know if I should be peeved. I am concerned, and I am also plain dumb-stricken by what this has done to us as a nation.
Yes, its Jamaica no problem, but we still need to draw boundary lines and as I write this I wonder if I would say this if I were a bike importer, retailer or rider. But as a tax payer, as a concerned citizen, as someone who has not yet lost anyone close to this pandemic I still have the luxury of being somewhat objective. I decry the situation, because we need to protect these young men from themselves-victims of ill-thought out decisions. We also cannot be blasé about the burden, sacrifice and costs it is bringing to bear on our health care system. How much it is costing families and loved ones- not just financially but also in terms of tears, the fears… and frustrations of other motorists who share the roads with them is astronomical. The way they are losing their lives is appalling or do we not care? And then I ask what do they (the riders) gain in return? Is there a payoff too for the onlookers? Does the benefit to them outweigh the costs in general? Their desire, wishes and needs matter-YES OF COURSE, but we also know that sometimes in life what we want we do not get or cannot get especially it impinges on others, other times its simply not good for us. Our rights and freedoms come with responsibilities- a harsh reality a lot of us seem to not know, understand or ignore.
I know that for the most part, most of us have to be led, we are pretty good followers and thus because we are like that, we seem to respond better to punishment rather than positive reinforcements . Remove harsh penalties, relax strict enforceable rules, add in some corruption and we will self-destruct. This bike phenomenon is a very poignant example of this. I am convinced that the young men think they are doing what they want and what is right for them but, I find that difficult to believe or reconcile. Having a bike in my view has deep psychological underpinnings. I believe it is the symptom of an existential problem- they have no raison d’etre- and as humans we need purpose and meaning to make life worth it. We need to be grounded and have a belief in something powerful and outside ourselves- Religion was the main source of this before. Nowadays however, since we have basically debunked this anchor and we have not replaced it with anything concrete or helpful (except smartphones, gadgets, bikes), our young people seem empty and paralyzed. It is showing just how easily we are influenced, just how much we need to get in touch with our spiritual dimensions and just how little we know ourselves. As such I believe that if we fully study and understand this bike business, we will understand too the drug, and crime problems we have.
I remember as a child the young men of that time all had bikes too. But I do not remember them trying to do stunts on the road ways, they showed respect for the authority of the police, especially those whose bikes were not road worthy. They were definitely not a nuisance to other road users and they certainly did not call themselves ‘suicide riders’. I refuse to believe that riders and pillions could be hearing and seeing everyday what is happening as a result of the wanton recklessness and still proceed to follow through. But they do, so you ask yourself why? What is missing? I believe it is highlighting a primal need for acceptance, love, recognition and validation- needs way more evident with the rise of social media. As far as I know, people who love and value themselves do not behave that way. I believe this is a poignant example of what is described as a ‘boys crisis’. But alas, its not only the bikers who have this problem for we too, do many other things that we know are not good for us, with reckless abandon. Perhaps thinking the consequences will come to others and not us. Who taught us these things? What or who failed us? Can we even blame anyone? But more than that, what is the solution? I have a lot of empathy for them, for us- for everyone involved.
As a people we like to point fingers…it is the police’s problem, it is the church’s problem, it is the teacher’s problem, if only we had a good leader, if only we had better roads, if only people had jobs, if only, if only etc. Yes these are credible responses, but too as far as I know its our problem- all of us. The quicker we realize this, the better. Garvey once famously said…..” injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” we see this play out in so many facets…..not least of which is the bike problem.