Recently a fellow cyclist died in a collision near Port Royal. An allegedly drunk, license-less, insurance-less driver fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into a group of my friends, killing the one and also harming several others, sending seven to the hospital.
(I apparently rode with him a few times, and he even went to my high school, but I can't recall him from the pictures I have seen.)
Shortly after it happened the phones started ringing. I was vacationing on the North Coast with my wife, and after we got the news our friends started calling to make sure that we weren't involved in any way. While we hardly ever ride on Saturday mornings, we have done so from time to time, so their fears were not without basis. Calls kept coming in until Monday, at least, just to make sure that were, indeed, OK.
It struck me how different things would be if the same incident had happened in the U.S., when I lived there.
The truth is, it's a pain in the ass to deal with the small size of Jamaican society in some respects, with all sorts of people knowing your business, and anonymity a thing of the past. However, the number of people that called caught us by surprise (including my wife's manicurist who magically got her cell number.)
It really felt as if lots of people from all over our lives actually gave a damn... and I can distinctly remember that feeling in the U.S. of being ignored, overlooked and forgotten, even by "friends" who turned out to be only acquaintances.
Back then, I sometimes wondered if it was because I was Black. I also wondered if it was because I spoke with an accent. Neither explanation seemed to satisfy.
Now, I just think it's a "small country thing," similar to a "small town thing" versus a "big country/city thing."
Here on this little island, with not that many of us around, we pay REAL attention to those around us, in some cases turning slights into wars, fights and murders.... but at other times we pay attention and it comes out in ways that show we are caring for each other in ways that are quite remarkable.