How You See the World Matters


Sherece Wildman



      I was born in Jamaica, where I lived with my mother, sisters, brother, grandparents, and my cousins. Altogether in a three bedroom house, we shared an outdoors bathroom and a pit toilet. Like many other Jamaicans I was born in poverty. The most common cause of conflicts today in Jamaica are based on poverty, political and social differences and lack of education.  I have seen experienced, and contributed to each of these common cause of conflicts. Majority of the people living in Jamaica cannot read because education is not free, and any governmental assistance you receive depends on the political party that you vote for.

       The conflicts that I faced in Jamaica were  both external and internal. Finding a resolution externally has happened for me but for many others, including my family, it has not. Internally, that is something that I am working on to resolve. My family has had their share of conflicts because of  poverty, lack of education , and their political choice, which led to the social environment that they are in. Neither my mother or my grandparents graduated from high school. They weren’t given the opportunity to make something of themselves; growing up in a third world country you have to work very hard for what you want and when you do work hard, chances are that you might have whatever you worked for ripped away from you.

         Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan said it best in his lecture. He said; “Today’s real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and the fettered , privileged and the humiliated.” The conflicts that I faced in Jamaica, and what people are still facing there right now are because they are powerless. They are powerless because they are poor, they are poor because they are not educated, most of them are not educated because they share a certain political views. The powerful in Jamaica are the ones with the education, money, or has some connection with an important political figure. This is where the border is created, between the rich and the poor, educated and the uneducated, The People National Party (PNP) and Jamaica Labor Party (JLP).

       Poverty is one of the major reason for the rising crime rate in my native land. I personally have stolen from people because I was in need for what I stole. I committed a small crime by stealing something, but others have taken it further because of the same reason. The poor kill, steal, and abuse each other because they want to find a way to survive. I have had crime committed against my household so many times because everyone is trying to survive the hard life, and sometimes doing so may cause someone else to lose out. I have witnessed murder because of poverty. People borrow money from each other and when they can’t repay, it sometimes cause them their life. It is that serious, people would do anything to survive.

       Many have heard, visited and talked about Jamaica, some said good , and others said bad. It is not enough to hear and talk, it is something different when you experience it. The writers of Coping With International Conflict  said; “How you see the world depends on where you sit. People tend to see what they want to see….if you want to influence them, you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point  of view and feel like emotional force with which they believe in it. It is not enough to study them like beetles under a microscope; you need to know what it feels like to be a beetle…” No one can really say they understand the conflict the poor Jamaicans faced unless they have been a poor Jamaican. To find a resolution for these conflicts you had to have lived the life, know what it is like to go bed hungry, hunt for food, steal other people’s food, money, and clothing just to make sure you can survive. It is good wanting to resolve conflicts but not knowing the nature of the conflict makes it an impossible goal.

        The island runs under the operation of two major political parties JLP and PNP, whichever one that gets into power depends on the poor people of Jamaica. To get the poor people’s vote the different parties would bribe the poor people with food and promise more to them if they vote for that particular party. This results in extreme violence during every election season. When it comes to that time of the year crime rate increases rapidly. People kill each other because they are wearing the color of the opposite party. Fighting the opponent is their way to making sure that the other party does not get into power because they wanted to what they were  promised by the politicians.

      Facing all this wasn’t easy for me. Seeing  people of one nation turn against each other the way Jamaicans do during in the time of election makes you think of the worst. Kofi Annan states that; “A genocide begins with the killing of one man, not for what he has done , but because of who he is.” This is what I fear most. My country is at a high risk of genocide , and if they continue killing each other for political reasons, or even for means of surviving. An intervention by the UN may be helpful but  to intervene into something that you don’t understand may cause even greater problems.

   Seeing members of my family as old as fifty years old unable to read made me even more determined to get an education, and although it was very expensive, my mother worked very hard to get me and my siblings an education. Not everyone is as blessed as me. My mother wasn’t, her mother wasn’t , neither was her father. There was better life in Jamaica that we could have lived but we needed to have money and in order to get money legally one has to have an education. Kofi Annan states, “Poverty begins when even one child is denied his or her fundamental right to education”. This is the conflict that we are facing; not enough of our generation before us had the opportunity to get an education , which deprived them from getting a good job, hence they ended up into poverty. To resolve this conflict, this current generation’s duty is to get educated by whatever means they can. This way their families can get  a chance of getting out of poverty. The resolution is within all of those who have experienced it, the resolution is me, my siblings, and all the others who have taken the steps of furthering their education. Of course we can’t do it alone. We have lived it, we have understand it, now others that wanted o resolve it can get information from us to do so. But, like the authors of Coping With International Conflict stated;…”inventing does not take place because parties are content with ideas they have…New ideas are a threat to the existing ideas.” The resolution for Jamaica’s conflict lies within the one who has lived it. The one who knows what it is like to be poor, uneducated, and to be affected by the political and social beliefs.

        To conclude, I have not yet seen a resolution for the conflicts that my country face. I am now living here in America, but my entire family is there. Resolving these conflicts is very important to me. Things hasn’t change much but many of the new generation are being educated. There is hope, but also a great need for help. To help one has to get the knowledge about the situation and then take the necessary steps to resolve these conflicts. There is a way to end poverty, illiteracy , and political violence everywhere in the world, but we first have to identify the conflict, understand where it is coming from, why it started and then you would know how to resolve it.