Carolyn Cooper | Dying for live entertainment
A lot of people are sick and tired of virtual entertainment. They want to party in the flesh. And that’s precisely what they’re doing. They don’t give a damn about the consequences of their actions. They’re living in the moment and to hell with anyone who tries to restrict their freedom. As a society, we are notorious for our lack of discipline. And, like a virus, this vice crosses class lines. Uptown, midtown and downtown!
Last month, Lime Cay and Maiden Cay were closed for two weeks, at first, because of a breach of COVID-19 protocols. On Sunday, December 27, a crowd of partygoers descended on Lime Cay from 20 yachts. Even if there had been only one person on each yacht, the party would have exceeded the maximum crowd size under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA). At the time, the limit was 15 people in both public and private gatherings.
The lawbreakers had the nerve to post pictures of their outing on social media. Presumably, they were confident that there would be no repercussions. The marine police ordered the crowd to disperse and, according to a report published in The Observer on December 30, “All complied with the warnings so no arrests were made”. Does compliance with warnings make violators immune to arrest?
PROTECTED FROM SCANDAL
I wonder what would have happened if another group of revellers had hired 20 boats from fishermen in Port Royal and gone to party at one of the cays. Would they have been arrested after complying with warnings? It appears that they, too, would have got off scot-free. National Security Minister Horace Chang is quoted in the newspaper report:
“The enforcement rules apply to everybody, whether they are on a yacht or not. A lot of the uptown people have been charged as they have been having parties uptown,” said Chang. “In the early stages uptown was giving more problem than downtown. We had to shut them down. It’s just that in the downtown areas you’ve had one or two incidents which have made the news.”
That’s a whole other issue. Uptown violations are sometimes kept out of the media and the identity of perpetrators is concealed. In the report on the yacht party, not one of the offenders was named. The generic statement was rather vague: “roughly 20 yacht operators were warned that they were in violation of protocols in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19”. As if they didn’t know!
When Lime Cay and Maiden Cay were closed in January, partygoers simply went off to other cays. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management has now closed all cays, except for Pedro and Morant, which are used by fishers. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that there have been ‘fishing’ parties on those cays.
IF YU BORN FI HENG ...
Many reckless Jamaicans seem to be operating on the principle that if yu born fi heng, yu can’t drown. This fatalistic proverb appeared in French as early as the mid-14th century, and then in English by the 16th century. It’s been adopted by a variety of cultures. In 2017, the American film director Oliver Stone interviewed Vladimir Putin and raised the issue of several alleged assassination attempts. This is how Putin responded: “You know what our people say: he who is fated to be hanged won’t drown.” Asked about his own destiny, Putin piously replied, “Only God knows our fate.”
Putin’s “people” includes all those daredevil partygoers who are quite happy to play Russian roulette. They are willing to take the chance that the COVID-19 bullet will not blow their brains out. Many fundamentalist Christians are also on the same yacht. They are congregating at church, confidently assuming that God knows their fate. Unconditional protection from the virus!
These believers have clearly forgotten an instructive Bible lesson. Satan challenged Jesus to prove he was the Son of God by throwing himself off the roof of the temple: “For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” (Luke Chapter 4, New Living Translation). Jesus rebuked Satan: “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
Like secular outings, going to church is a vital form of entertainment for many Jamaicans. The significance of both secular and sacred gatherings is conveyed in the original meaning of entertainment. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word comes from Old French ‘entretenir’ meaning “to hold together, stick together, support”.
After almost a year in lockdown, all of us want to bruck out of confinement. But, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, and with no vaccine in sight, we have to entertain ourselves rationally. We must stick together in this dread battle against the pandemic. Otherwise, a lot of us will either drown or hang. We can’t afford to act as if we have no control over our fate. After all, God helps those who help themselves.