Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Forward Thinking Cultures

In the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review, I found an interesting article on "Forward Thinking Cultures."

The author's main point is that some cultures are more "forward thinking" than others, and that this feature is positively correlated with GDP/Capita, levels of innovativeness, happiness, confidence and competitiveness.

Being "forward thinking" is defined as the extent to which a culture encourages and rewards such behavior as delaying gratification, planning, and investing in the future.

While neither Jamaica nor any Caribbean country was mentioned it made me start to wonder about our behaviour.

In an early post, I mentioned that we have often demonstrate a regrettable lack of self-reflection.  For exampl, thieves have recently taken to stealing phone lines in order to get at the copper, so that it can be resold.  I imagine these same thieves complaining in the next breath that the phone service in Jamaica sucks.

As another example, people who have left Jamaica for a better life abroad often complain that things in Jamaica are bad, without connecting the fact that they have contributed to the continued brain-drain that many think is a major problem (I'm not so sure myself.)

This lack of self-reflection leads us to do things that benefit ourselves in the short term, at the cost of success in the long-term. 

I started to wonder:  what would it be like if we (this generation) were to basically sacrifice our current comfort for the next generation?  What would it be like to say that Jamaica won't make it to first world status in the next 20 years, but maybe if we put our heads together it might make it in the next 50.  Perhaps that might be inspiring enough for us the make the necessary sacrifices today.

Trinidad seems to have made these kinds of sacrifices in the early 1990's and today they seem to be reaping the benefits.  Should we be following their example on a grander scale?

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