A few days ago I came across a rather intriguing Jamaican blog called Warren’s Blog. Of particular interest today me is the blog post, What is the Jamaican Dream? I do agree with much of the themes on his blog, but the question posed in the title of the blog post betrays one of, if not the major faults with Jamaican society.
When one speaks of the American Dream, what is usually spoken about is the National Ethos of the United States. Put in simple terms, it is the belief that through hard work one can achieve upward social mobility, success and prosperity, usually symbolized by home ownership. Now I am not prepared to debate the claims of the American National Ethos. What I do wonder is, why do we need to have an “American Dream” and not a National Ethos?
To answer my own question, it is because we have not developed a proper national identity, choosing instead to obtain our self esteem from what Britain, and now America, thinks of us. If we do indeed have a “Jamaican Dream”, then it is to get a degree, then migrate to the U.S. In fact it seems that the we have taken on the American Dream locally, except that we have replaced home ownership with motor vehicle ownership, minus the American dollars to buy the oil necessary to run such vehicles.
Can we develop our own national ethos? Perhaps, but that seems unlikely at this point, as we seem fixed on questions of means rather than ends. But wasn’t that always the main problem with the American Dream?