Tolerance and Talent
Generally, university campuses around the world are seen as leaders in bringing enlightened thinking to the forefront of a country or community's consciousness. They are seen as sources of new ideas, energy and ideals that lead nations to new levels of prosperity.
If Richard Florida's research on the Creative Class and today's Jamaica Observer and Gleaner are to be believed, then our Jamaica will have to overcome some major hurdles in order to reach the economic heights that we desire.
The headlines read as follows: Cops rescue alleged homo from UWI students and Alleged homosexual attacked at UWI.
Apparently, the police had to fire shots to stop the beating that a student was receiving from his peers after he allegedly propositioned another student on UWI's Mona campus. The details can be found at the two links listed above.
The thoughts that went through my head were first off, a mix of condemnation and blame. I immediately started to curse the perpetrators of the gang violence, and hoped that _very_ bad things would happen to them while they served their respective prison sentences.
After that, I felt sorry for the student who was beaten, and scared for his future at UWI. Can he ever return? Will this be a turning point for him (whether he is truly gay or not) that will forever limit his freedom and self-expression?
Then I felt ashamed, and hoped that I would not be reading about this incident in the LA Times, New York Times and Washington Post, as further examples of the violence that we Jamaicans are capable of, even in our institutions of "higher learning."
Then, after I sat with it for a while, I felt a deep kind of sadness, because I recalled my own reaction to what I thought might have been a proposition (as shared in an earlier entry in this blog entitled "An Ugly Reaction.") It is clear to me, that I could have found myself in that mob at an earlier age.
Because I still carry around the capacity to hate homosexuals at the level that those UWI students do. It was evident in my response to that phone call that prompted the blog. Even though I am committed to not harbouring or expressing or acting on this hate, I have blogged publicly that it is there.
I mean... would I have called for a good beating if I had been the one approached?
Would I have stood by while they chased him down? Would I have asked the security guards and policemen to hand him over so that I, and others, could finish him off? Would I have had to courage to stop the incident, as one fellow tried and failed to do?
The fact is, I can see myself in that mob, to some degree. The fear, anger, hatred and deep self-righteousness.
Thankfully, it doesn't end there. One the other side of the fear (which seems the deepest of all these dark emotions) I actually see hope.
I have no idea.
But it is there -- just beyond the darkest part of the fear. Maybe I'll be able to clearly answer the "Why?" at some point.
At the moment, however, I'm just working on showing some tolerance for those students who attacked that fellow. After all, they are our most talented.