Caribbean

“Freedom Paper”

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August 1, 1838 was a special day for the enslaved people of Jamaica. They received their freedom paper. 178 years later, we join the exslaves and exhibit our “Freedom Paper”.

Ref. 7/340/1

Courtesy of the Jamaica Archives and Records Department

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Stuff To Do This Summer – TalkTank

In this week’s vlog, we talk about what you can possibly do this summer, to occupy your time. Thanks to the UTech, Ja Students’ Union. Hosted by Craig McNally.

TalkTank is the number one vlog that provides tons of great advice and information to build life skills.

Each week TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, uploads great life skills information and advice. TalkTank is the number joint to find life hacks, little life cheats that will get you ahead. If this is your first time inside the Tank, thanks for dropping by. For more great life skills information and advice, be sure you subscribe to TalkTank. And don’t forget to LIKE n SHARE TalkTank with your social network. Thanks you for your support!

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My contact email: thetalktank@gmail.com

*The views expressed in this vlog are strictly my own, and in no way reflects the views of my employer.

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Got A Bad Gift? Respond Like This!

Most, if not all of us at some time has received a gift that didn’t quite meet our expectation. In today’s TalkTank I share with you 3 tips, that will hopefully save you from that awkward ‘bad-gift-moment’.

Each week TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, uploads great life skills information and advice. TalkTank is the number joint to find life hacks, little life cheats that will get you ahead. If this is your first time inside the TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, thanks for dropping by. For more great life skills information and advice, be sure you subscribe to TalkTank. And don’t forget to LIKE n SHARE TalkTank with your social network. TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, thanks you for your support!

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE HARDER THEY COME by Michael Thelwell

RUDE BWAI VERSHAN

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE HARDER THEY COME by Michael Thelwell

By Yulande Lindsay (shahinel@hotmail.com)

Michael Thelwell’s classic novel The Harder They Come, chronicles the journey of one man’s evolution from ‘country bwai’ to urban legend. On the surface, the book details Ivanhoe “Rhygin” Martin’s journey from his rural beginnings through his quest for musical stardom and riches to his emergence as a gunman, a folk hero, an anti-establishment symbol. However, a closer examination of this richly evocative work reveals a deeply rooted love for and an in-depth analysis ofJamaica and its society.

The novel is as its protagonist. It is “rhygin” – “spirited, vigorous, lively, passionate with great vitality and force…” (Thelwell, p. 398). It does what the movie could not; it presents an audience with a kaleidoscopic tapestry, colourful and vibrant, rich in historical, political and cultural details, which fully illustrate the Jamaica of the time. The characters are finely drawn, each one playing its own pivotal role in the development of the main character, Ivanhoe-turned-Rhygin. Miss Mando, his grandmother, represents his foundation, his grounding personality. From her, he learns the importance and values of his ancestors, the usefulness and essential nature of the land on which they work and dwell, it is from her teachings that he develops a strong work ethic which prevents him from descending into petty crime when he first arrives in the city. Their relationship is close although it becomes severely strained when Ivan expresses the desire to go to Kingston to become a famous singer. He unintentionally brings to the fore Miss Mando’s greatest fear, that he will leave the land, abandon her as her children have done, never to return. The rift remains unhealed when she dies.

The scenes of Miss Mando’ s death and subsequent funeral are some of the most powerful in the book, representing as they do both the past and future, remembrance and prophecy. The ceremony follows strictly the traditions of times past: the recounting of the circumstances of the death (how was she sitting, did she have anything in her hand, was it a difficult death, etc.), the gathering and full participation of the community, the elaborate and expensive coffin and the Nine Night festivities:

“…everyone knew that the spirit of the dead remained in the grave for nine days after death, emerging at night to wander around the familiar places of the departed’s life. This being so, it was necessary to have some formal activity- set-up, singing meeting, or a quiet watch-on each of those nights when the spirit would be wandering.

…it was the ninth night that was of significance. On this night when the spirit finally departed the world, taking its last leave of the living, there was a great celebration…”(Thelwell, p. 89)

It is on this night that remembrance becomes prophecy and Ivan’s future is becomes clear, for during the Kumina ceremony, Miss Mando’s spirit pays her final respects to attendant friends and family. Upon acknowledging the presence of her grandson however, the spirit begins to wail and mourn:

“Aieee! Mi pickney, mi pickney. Mi pickney. Fire an’ gunshat. Gunshat and bloodshed. Bloodshed and gunshat, waiee oh.” (Thelwell, p. 97)

The book is worth reading just for this first section alone. The description of rural life, the funeral rites and traditions and in particular the Kumina ceremony are so vibrant one can almost see these images as you read, hear the frantic drums of the kumina, experiencing the sheer power of band leader Bamchikolachi and his drum Akete as they call forth the spirits.

Thellwell’s description of Ivan’s bus trip to the city is priceless in its hilarity. His first glimpse and experiences of Kingston leave us feeling sympathetic towards the country boy as he is robbed, not once but twice by persons in whom he has foolishly placed his trust. It is here that we are introduced to the characters that eventually shape and influence the adult Rhygin, the heroes and villains of the Westerns that Ivan comes to love and after whom he begins to pattern his behaviour: the lone mysterious man, walking cool and unconcerned through a hail of bullets, emerging unharmed and triumphant. Ivan’s experiences roaming the streets, homeless and seeking work among the suburbs of St. Andrew introduce the reader to a Jamaica rife with racism which leaves Ivan bitter and angry, his dreams temporarily on hold as he struggles for survival.

Ivan is rescued from the streets by Pastor Cyrus Mordecai Ramsey, Defender of the Faith, who provides Ivan with a home and job, introducing him to his true love Elsa, Preacher’s adopted daughter and subject of his unhealthy obsession and in the process ironically, reacquaints him with his love of music and his ambitions. Preacher, as he is known, is strict and consumed with his own humility and while Ivan is grateful to him, he cannot quite embrace fully his strict faith and beliefs. It is this defiance and Elsa’s return of Ivan’s love which pushes Preacher into madness and ends in Ivan’s brutalization by an unfair justice system, step one in the evolution of Rhygin. Step two occurs when Ivan, fully pursuing his dreams of fame, encounters the corrupt system which rules the music industry in Jamaica. The encounter with the music producer Hilton, who represents the white elite, serves as a crucial turning point for Ivan, for it is not just the fact that he does not gain monetarily from his music, but he learns that Hilton, as a form of punishment for what he perceives as Ivan’s arrogance, withholds the record, telling the DJs not to ‘push it’, thwarting him of the fame he has long dreamed of.

Ivan’s final descent into Rhygin begins, not with his involvement in the flourishing ganja trade, but when he returns home to Blue Bay. He is shocked and deeply disturbed by the changes he has found. His home has been left to decay; the area has become a tourist mecca where the American dollar reigns supreme. Even a comical scene where Ivan discovers white Rastafarians for the first time is tinged with disbelief and not a little sadness. The visit shocks Ivan to the core, completing his split with the past, there is nothing left and Ivan literally becomes a man without a past. From this sense of self-betrayal and loss, emerges a man determined to become independently rich, leading him to confront those with whom he does business, challenging the status quo.

“I have made a record of crime history.”

                                                          Rhygin (Thelwell, p. 354)

Ivan’s full transformation is complete when he is betrayed by one of his cohorts and is confronted by members of the police force. After killing four of them, Rhygin becomes a murderer and folk-hero. Murderer to the white elite, the police and clergy who fear that Rhygin will become the articulation of a despair and anger that has hitherto only bubbled beneath the surface of the inner-city society and folk-hero to those who regard the police as ‘Babylon’ and ‘down-pressers’, tools of the wealthy whose role it is to keep in them unending subjugation. Rhygin gains his fame at last.

Michael Thelwell’s use of the Jamaican Creole contributes to the excellence of the book. Also, his comedic instincts are flawless (see he scene where members of the Rastafarian community, attempt to capture the city of Kingston). The Harder They Come is a must read for all those thirsting for good and consistent Jamaican literature. Its relevance has not waned as its themes of fame, corruption, lust, love and tradition are still applicable in Jamaican society today.

(Source: Rereading Jamaica)

THE CHALLENGES OF PERSONALITY DIFFERENCES WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE CHURCH

By Demar Cornwall

(c) 2014

A church may be defined as an institution or group of people coming together to serve the same Supreme Being.  A church’s membership differs in size, ethnicity, gender and social class which contributes to personality differences within the body.  One’s personality has a combination of characteristics or qualities that forms his/her distinctive character, especially those personal characteristics that make one socially appealing (dictionary.com). Personality psychology seeks to describe the person as a whole and attempts to understand the individual differences and the universal traits. One’s personality may consist of five (5) major aspects: (1) Extraversion (2) Agreeableness (3) Conscientiousness (4) Neuroticism (5) Openness (Cherry).

Since the church has to deal with different personality types it should be able to deal with the challenges that may arise.  But what are the challenges? These challenges may stem from a sociological, religious and psychological point of view.  In this essay I will attempt to explain how problems such as social anxiety and narcissistic personality disorder can affect the Church and the individual within the context of the Jamaican society, additionally the church’s ability to manage personality differences in general will also be discussed.

Social anxiety otherwise called social phobia, may be defined as the fear of evaluation or judgment in social or performance situations (Cuncic). Cuncic states that, social anxiety may be elicited by a number of triggers, including formal interactions, such as public speaking; informal interactions, such as meeting a stranger; situations requiring assertive behavior; or everyday actions, such as eating in front of others. It is an epidemic that causes one who attends church to leave shortly after arriving because s/he is unable to handle the crowd.  People suffering from social anxiety often say that they feel nervous and awkward when they have to speak to others and are always concerned about what people are saying about them (Burger 209). They also have a problem when they are to meet new people or having to present to or address an audience and are always misunderstood by others. In some instances social anxiety affects a member of the church when s/he is placed in a certain post or given a certain task to do. According to Mormon Times, Dani Israelson had no problem with social anxiety until she was sent on mission in Jamaica. She stated that she became scared to get up in front of the class or when she was on teaching practice she would get nervous, as opposed to her “loud-mouth” and “super obnoxious” behavior in high school. In other instances ministers might walk off the pulpit while preaching, singing or reading the Bible because of this disorder. Social anxiety brings separation from the person it is affecting and the public and overtime without treatment would cause this barrier to become immovable/permanent.

The current treatment of social phobia or anxiety is exposure. According to Dr. Beckham, exposure, an initial goal of the therapist is to identify what the client is actually afraid of (16). He further states that it goes beyond simply labeling a situation such as, “public speaking” or “eating in public” but involves the full fear, which also includes for many people the fear of humiliation (16).  The technique of public humiliation can be used by pastoral counsellors in the church to assist the patient or members of the church in confronting their fear.  When an individual is placed in a situation where he/she has to encounter fears, the anxiety lasts for only a short period.  This is because the anxiety begins to decrease and the brain is then in a position to tolerate its environment without fear. This is the process of habituation which is defined by Princeton University as being “abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming”. The Church should find programmes to help the persons in the group to face their fears. These programmes should be designed to enable one to more deeply “experience” him/herself as well as their relationship with God and the Christian Community.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is another form of personality issues that can affect the church and the individual.  This disorder is described as having an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance and a preoccupation with success and power. Symptoms of NPD ranges from a person being self-centered and boastful to being arrogant or having strong attitude problems.  This disorder may be developed as a result of excessive pampering, abuse, neglect, trauma inflicted by parents or guardians among others (Cleveland Clinic).  The Cleveland Clinic suggests that this disorder is rarely evident in the childhood stage by stating that it is evident in the adulthood stage. In some churches, NPD is evident in the leadership and membership. Using their religion and the gift God has bestowed on them to be seen by the membership as a “hero”.  Even though testifying about how you overcome a situation or a trial is not Narcissistic Personality Disorder, someone who has evidence of NPD would be taking that situation out of proportion making it seem as if they were God; personally taking themselves out of the trial. NPD affected persons have little empathy for persons who are in need of help.  A good example is in a case where a church member or leader goes to the person affected with NPD about a family member who died a few hours ago. S/he being full of him/herself or lacking of empathy would disregard the person’s feelings, perhaps say something that would hurt them more or “belittling” the person’s situation or amplifying their own. The aim of the NPD affected is always to keep the spotlight on him/herself. In addition, they are most likely to exaggerate about their achievement (Cleveland Clinic). For example, having a PhD in Theology so I am closer to God than everyone else within Jamaica or the church.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not curable but it is treatable.  According to Mayo Clinic, personality traits can be difficult to change so therapy may take several years.  Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) which includes family therapy and Group therapy. A pastoral psychologist using Cognitive Behavior Therapy, should be able to guide the narcissist to become aware of  painful feelings about him/herself that have led him/her to develop a narcissistic style and to become insensitive to the needs and feelings of others.  If the narcissist is “unsaved”, being converted and accepting the Lord as his/her Lord and savior can also be used to break the tendency of being a narcissist since submitting to Christ is a sign of humility.  It is to be noted however, that it will take a lengthy period to break this disorder and being a Christian does not mean you will be perfect.  The pastoral psychologist’s role is to gently show the patient his/her faults and to identify ways in which he/she can break from habitual impulses which causes him/her to think only about him/herself. If the person is married, marriage counseling could be implemented to assist the patient’s partner to cope with the issue at hand.  This also can be used to “gently” identify the faults of the patient. Very often spouses of a narcissist are affected with self-esteem problems and would help the spouse express his or her feelings to the patient which may improve his or her marriage.  In the event that the congregation has several members affected with NPD, leadership could form a small support group including persons in the wider community in an effort to control this disorder within the community.

In order to manage personality differences/disorders in the church, the minister or pastoral psychologist should be able to help persons who are affected by disorders to understand the basis of their issue and how the church can assist them in controlling the disorder even if it cannot be cured. The minister/pastoral psychologist should also give the affected person space to reflect on the situation and allow the person to discuss his/her observations. If the case is beyond the expertise of the psychologist/minister, the matter should be referred to someone who is better able to deal with it.

Effectively managing the personality variables in the Church or society can greatly decrease time spent on ongoing interventions that may be necessary for pastor (s) or supervisor (s) to undertake, it can also increase efficiency of tasks given, and create growth opportunities for the Church membership. Management of personality differences is important for the smooth running of any organization including the Church or homes. Persons in leadership positions should be equipped with the necessary tools/knowledge for dealing with a range of disorders. The existence of such skill among leaders will minimize confrontations with individuals of opposite personality types and allow persons to work together in groups with a reduction of conflicts arising.

Some people like plans and structure; others prefer things to be open ended.  Big problems can arise when you have people with opposite approaches working together. With tight-loose management you define the goal (what is to be achieved), the boundaries (finite amounts of time, resource, people etc) and any points in time where people’s work intersects or there is a need to pass on information. Once the differences are recognized then space should be provided for persons to work in their own style. People lose energy if they are forced to work against their natural patterns. (Bris) People have different personalities and as such should be understood, the Church must deal with the different personalities in their congregation so as to have, where possible harmonious relationships.

In conclusion, the church will always have issues or challenges relating to personality differences. Hence the need for ministers and or other member(s) of the church to be trained in pastoral psychology. In this society persons face different types of personality disorder which affect the church in general, since we are all as Christians, ambassadors for Christ, we need to ensure that the body of Christ well equipped to tackle these disorders. A church faced with obvious negative forms of personality differences will be unattractive in the eyes of the community and prospective members. Taking care of the church’s personality challenges makes the lives of its members less complicated and the job of the pastor or counsellor a bit lighter. It is crucial for leaders both to understand personality differences and its management.  The implementation of this understanding would be attractive to the membership and may draw others who are in need of help to the congregation.

Works Cited

“Managing Personality differences.” University of Bristol. University of Bristol. Web. 12 Nov 2012. <http://www.bris.ac.uk/staffdevelopment/academicstaff/leading-people/seven-suggestions/managing-personality-differences.pdf&gt;.

“Narcissistic personality disorder .” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n. d. Web. Web. 12 Nov. 2012.

“Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Cleveland Clinic. N.p., 29 2011. Web. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_narcissistic_personality_disorder.asp&xgt;.

“Personality”. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved November 04, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/personality

Burger, Jerry M. Personality. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co, 2008. Print.

Cherry, Kendra. “The Big Five Personality Dimensions.”About.com. N.p., n. d. Web. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydevelopment/a/bigfive.htm&gt;.

Cuncic, Arlin. “Social Anxiety.” About.com. 07.July.2012. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.http://socialanxietydisorder.about.com/od/glossarys/g/socialanxiety.htm

Duff, Annette. “Managing Personality Disorders: Making Positive Connections.” Nursing Management – UK 10.6 (2003): 27-30.Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.

Israelson, Dani. Mormon Times. Personal Interview. 25 2012.

Ronningstam, Elsa. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A Current Review.” Current Psychiatry Reports 12.1 (2010): 68-75. MEDLINE Complete. Web. 12 Nov. 2012.