Friday, May 28, 2010

Dudus as God

Keeping Silent About Evil
Basil Waine Kong

I read a quote in a Jamaican newspaper from a lady who said, "Dudus is next to God. Jesus died for our sins and we are willing to die for Dudus." * She demanded that the authorities leave him alone.

For thousands of years, the Japanese people believed that their emperor was God. After the Allies occupied Japan and the Emperor was made to declare on the radio that he was not God and was just an ordinary man with no Godlike powers, thousands of Japanese citizens, the true believers, committed suicide, not being able to accept that the god that they worshipped and prayed to was just another human being, nothing more or less.

I also thought of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Imagine, writes Plato, a tribe of people who spend their entire lives in a cave. Their only exposure to the outside world was the shadows that were projected on the sides of the cave through the cracks on the opposite walls. During an earthquake or some other earthy disturbance, a member of the tribe escaped and was confused and dazzled by the fantasy to which he was exposed. As he was marveling at the sights and sounds, him buck him toe on a rockstone and it hurt. He walked into a tree that he thought was just a fantasy and hit him head. He fell into a river and almost drowned and gradually came to realize that he had things backwards. This was the reality and he and his people were living a lie and only shadows of the truth.

Having found truth, he immediately went back to his people and with great excitement, courage and conviction proceeded to enlighten and plead with them to accept his truth and they all said: G’wey fool. You know not of what you speak. Everyone knows that the shadows are the true reality. They even killed him for his blasphemy.

I grew up in Woodlands, St. Elizabeth, with the certain knowledge that:
1. The Bible was written by God and every word must be taken literally;
2. If you were caught in the rain you would catch cold;
3. Night air was dangerous so children had to be called in when it got dark;
4. Crop failure, hurricanes, earthquakes, sickness and death were acts of a vengeful God;
5. Anything foreign was better than anything produced in Jamaica;
6. “Nutten black no good”;
7. If it is written it is true. Arguments would immediately cease once someone produced a “writing”, particularly a Gleaner article. "Why would they write it if it wasn't true?"

As I discovered that science nicely explained away many of our traditional beliefs, on my first trip back to Jamaica after leaving Woodlands and armed with a substantial education, I liberally shared the knowledge I had acquired. My grandmother just smiled as I tried to address these myths. She said I was still too young to know anything while the rest of my people more aggressively ran me: G’wey!

The residents of Tivoli Gardens are living in Plato’s cave. They know no other reality but the see no evil approach to life. Dudus, the President, the Godfather, dispenser of the proceeds of crime, merely ask that the recipients of his largest reciprocate with loyalty and obedience. "He is a hero who keeps order and more importantly protects us from abusive police. He can stand up to anyone."

Parasites prey on those around them. How does a criminal strongman do this? He provides quick fixes to people's problems. What could be wrong with that? Yet as time progresses, the easy way becomes easier and easier until it seems you have no other choice, until you want no other choice. It is at that moment, when you have an established need of such a person, that the price is exacted. While for those who can support themselves, the greatest treasure is freedom; for those who are starving and desperate, freedom may not be much of a price to pay for their daily bread and daily fix for school fees, uniforms, lunch money, court costs, food, etc.

Mr. Coke is a Jamaican strong man who used drugs and other vices that prey on poor Jamaicans looking for quick fixes. Poor Jamaicans turn to the Mr. Cokes of the world because the government fails to provide the framework of education and economic resources to help them out of their dependent relationships.

Unfortunately, a vacuum of power will result with the removal of Dudus. Dudus is a white star quickly collapsing into black hole that, if we are not careful, will swallow massive amounts of Jamaican civil society. On the other hand, we may be in the midst of a cleansing that may benefit our society going forward. But what is to become of the many citizens of TG who have grown used to dependency and are now destitute?

What I know is for freedom to ring, the rule of law rather than the rule of the jungle must prevail. Crime is, by its definition, a breach of the rules and laws of a governing body. The people of Tivoli Gardens willingly sacrificed their freedom for security. They willingly huddle in the shadow of a tyrant, fearing his removal, because they do not know the value of the sun shining on their faces here in the land of sun and water.

I cry for my beloved country because our people are so badly neglected and mis-educated that they are willing to drink the “kool-aid” of fast money and quick fixes that the criminal element offers. My plea is: please don’t drink the kool-aid! The most predictable road to independence, long term happiness and prosperity is integrity and hard work.


*"Dudus" is the purported drug Lord who, like his father, controlled a section of Jamaica called Tivoli Gardens who the United States want to put into a orange jumpsuit . The people who live there are provided with amenities, compliments of the one they call "The President". He was the most powerful man in Jamaica before the showdown with government forces in May, 2010. He was indicted and wanted by the American authorities for charges relating murders committed by the Shower Posse for which he is the purported head as well as the illegal sale of drugs and guns.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is the Sun Raising or Setting on Jamaica?

Basil Waine Kong

I am in a Jamaican state of mind. As I position myself to get the best view of each lovely sunrise with a hunk of corn pone and a cup of Blue Mountain coffee in hand and each sunset with a rum punch or a Red Stripe, my teeming brain, crawling with thought, often wonder whether the future of this romantic place we call Jamaica is represented by the coming up or going down of the sun. Is this the real deal or a fool's paradise? Are our best years behind us or in front of us? Were our best years under colonial rule or maybe the early days of independence when we were celebrating and feeling free from colonial domination? While we continue to squander many opportunities and have badly mismanaged our resources, I am going to believe with as much optimism I can muster that we are represented by a rising sun. While it is not shining very bright at the moment, I believe in my heart of hearts that it will be morning again in Jamaica. Challenges come to make us, not break us.

We are a wealthy but badly managed country. Our abundant variety of flowers, vegetables and fruit trees leads me to believe that God has blessed us in a very special way. Our wealth include rich and abundant soil, lots of rivers and fresh water, talented and hard working people, a pleasant climate, sunshine and rain embraced by the Caribbean sea. Most of all, we have brand Jamaica---we set the pace. In addition to our sprinters, our hairstyle, music and entertainers, we have the best coffee in the world, the best beaches, the best rum, the best beer,the best cotton (Sea Island), the best herbs and spices and the best honey (logwood). We are a land of unlimited possibilities. Japan has no natural resources except the drive and talent of their people and they are the second largest economy in the world. Nevertheless, our progress as a society canno only be measured by big houses, fancy cars, super highways, big buildings and money in the bank but rather the welfare of ALL our people.

Over the past two years, I have been despairing about our increasing problems: Unemployment is at an all time high. Our health care system is in shambles. Eighty five percent of our children are born out of wedlock. Our imports are up and our exports are down. More and more of our annual budget is committed to servicing our formidable national debt. We have Garrison Dons and Gunmen who are out of control. Our prisons are full. We have politicians, public servants and policemen taking bribes to compromise the public trust. Deaths from automobile accidents are outrageous. If our high rate of accidents and homicides are not enough, criminals have now taken to kidnapping our children. A third of our citizens cannot read. Our children have half day school so half of our children with half of them not able to pass their CXE and suffer from lack of parental guidance as most of their mothers are in other countries taking care of other people’s Pinckney. The list of these negatives continue to expand with each passing day.

I remind myself that the way of truth and love has always prevailed when societies are plagued with criminals and a bad economy. God is just. He will not sleep forever. Criminals may seem invincible, but in the end, goodness always triumphs and evil fails. The future is our permanent address so time is on our side. History teaches us that time is on the side of law abiding citizens who just need to recognize that we are blessed with brilliant opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.

Let us stop this conspiracy of silence and form a coalition of the law abiding so we can persistently fight crime on our streets and communities. Each of us has a choice to make. Every member of our society has the power to act in the interest of good. When someone is not afraid to die, they immediately become powerful. No one can make you do anything without your consent. Each of us must commit to a future when evil will not feel at home in our country. One man or woman with a cause, courage and God becomes a majority.

Since we all know that power concedes nothing without a struggle, sometimes it requires that we put everything on the line and fight for our personal integrity, dignity, self esteem as well as a cause in which we are invested. Let’s start by saving the children.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. You cannot have crops without ploughing up the ground and you cannot bake a cake without breaking some eggs. We should never surrender to the menace of evil in our society. Let’s have no truce with criminals. They are the people who are invested in preserving poverty and promoting the rule of the jungle rather than the rule of law. Is that what you want for your children? If they continue to do their worse, let’s double our efforts to do our best. There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that what is right with Jamaica cannot fix. Let us be excellent to each other. More than cleverness, we need kindness and courage.

If you are kind to your neighbours you will feel good, if you are cruel, cover up the evil deeds of others and don’t do the right thing you feel ashamed and haunted. If you live by Christian principles you will be blessed, not only because God will bless you but because other people want to associate and do business with people who are honest, sincere about their promises and helpful in their moments of need. Whatever you do, you will be successful because others will wish you well and offer help to another good and faithful servant.

On the other hand, people will shun and show disdain for those who are evil. Why would anyone want to associate with someone who lies, become violent and hurt other people? They realize that regardless of the very temporary availability of money that a criminal lifestyle sometimes offer, it is only a matter of time before a criminal will turn against those who associate with him or her. Most of the murders in Jamaica were friends of the perpetrator. Criminals have the lowest life expectancy in every society. If you live by the sword, you will surely die by the sword. So, stop hugging up gunmen, defending and hiding the criminals in your community.

There is a revolution coming. It will not require violence and violence will not stop it. I am a Jamaican. Hear me roar. The virtuous people in our communities can be a powerful army if they are pushed to the wall. We are now up against the wall. The good people of this country will rise up and act when they recognize that our society is currently organized to oppress, murder, rob, and degrade them—with our hopes not realized and our promises not fulfilled. Is your ambition to work your way up from nothing to extreme poverty? Some politicians and leaders of our country believe that enough is done for the people at the bottom rung of society if you are allowed to live at all.

The time has come. Every country has the government they deserve and the community we want. Equal opportunity, fairness and justice are ideals for which we should be prepared to die. If you refuse to accept evil, you will get what you want. There are a lot more good people than bad people. Have a positive impact on the world. Don’t end up having just visited and walked the earth. Help to make Jamaica free for honest people to enjoy. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds” (Bob Marley) This is our Island in the sun that deserves your salvation.

In spite of the few criminals, I believe that Jamaicans are really good at heart who just wants to show love and kindness to others. You cannot believe the kindness I have received at the hands of perfect strangers in Jamaica. This is no time to keep the facts from our people to keep them complacent.

My motivation is to spur action from an aroused public. What we are famous for doing is understand and participate meaningfully in all the other countries of the world. Wherever I travel, I find Jamaicans doing incredible things for their adopted countries. What we do worse is understand and invest in our own country. Every little bit you do will helps little bit.

Use your time on this earth. Resolve to be reduced to ashes rather than to be dust under anyone’s feet. Go out in a blaze if you must rather than compromise your dignity. Earn the respect of your fellow man by becoming men and women of action. A man must live with purpose, not just to compromise with the devil. Use your time wisely and be a force against evil. Our only hope is for the rich and poor to come together for the good of the country. My fear is that it will be too late when the rich finally reach out to the poor, they may find that the poor has turned to hate. I hope we aspire to a better Jamaica and not bitter Jamaicans.


I am the author of "A Struggle to Walk with Dignity"-The TRUE story of a Jamaican-born Canadian. I am very inspired by the words of Dr. Kong's writings, and I am proud to be a part of your web family. As a thinker and writer myself, it is as if Dr. Kong's thoughts on Jamaica are connected through my brain. I could not have said it any better, and clearer than Dr. Kong. He shows me the brilliance of the Jamaican mind and the possibility of great accomplishments that Jamaicans are capable of. The future of Jamaica is in the hands of it's people, as we all wish that Jamaica after Colonialism could have been another Singapore. Gerald A.

Dorothy Purge 2010-05-20 07:11
Interesting article, Dr. Kong. Thanks for sharing and up-lifting one's spirit.

The rising and setting sun, can in many ways, speak positively within our lives and that of our country. May you continue to share your inspiration.

Desmond Green 2010-05-19 13:09
Thank you Dr Kong for a truly inspiring and challenging post. It hits the spot with truths that can heal the sick and raise even the dead. Thanks again. Eye will talk with you soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sermon From My Mount (High Horse) Part 3

The Challenge of Making Each Hour Count
Basil Waine Kong

Every hour is different from all other hours in which you are endowed with an extra-ordinary opportunity to do heroic deeds. If we recognize that providence rewards the bold, this is not the second, minute or hour to be timid and invisible. Each of us have the power to change things for good or evil. Every little bid you do helps or hurt a little. We must decide whether our life is to be about quick fixes, the avoidance of pain, a pursuit of pleasure and material gain or in the service of mankind.

The need to “fit in” is swallowing us up. If we do not remain true to ourselves and our fore fathers and fore mothers we will drive ourselves into oblivion in our BMWs. Our people need learning, conviction, exaltation and justice yet we remain consumed with the pursuit of superficial material things. We may claim to be a success, but in the eyes of the heroes and sheroes, we are rightly regarded as failures. Our community is in spiritual distress suffering from a disease of loss of character and commitment and most of us are paralyzed with fear. One can be a villain even though very cultured, learned and surrounded by luxuries. There are many among us whose entire existence is been taken up with the trappings of modern life. We have forgotten the value of our human relationships.

The Earth, our home, is a magnificent creation and generous gift from God to whom we owe eternal gratitude.The glory of the creator is manifested in the spectacles that is all around us in Jamaica---the cool breeze, our bountiful harvests, our spectacular mountains, the blue caribbean, the spectacular rainbows and sunsets after a storm. But the greatest of all of God’s creation are human beings! We are the very embodiment of His perfection.

We are interdependent with and partners with God. God need us as much as we need Him. When we walk through storms, we never walk alone. We are not solitary in our toils or forsaken in our efforts. The smallest and weakest of us is a microcosm of the greatest one. A reciprocal relationship binds all of us with our creator.

When I study the Bible, God speaks to me. When I pray, I speak to God. Knowledge of the Bible is only a necessary first step to living the Bible and walking as a Christian. You cannot study philosophy through praying and cannot study prayer through philosophizing. Prayer fulfills a sacred function. When you pray, you talk to God, when we experience a flash of insight, a catharsis, and understanding, God is talking to you. When God is betrayed and abandoned, we experience agony.

Holiness is not man’s achievement, it is a gift from God that cannot be achieved without engaging others. It is not something that can be attained through merit. We become holy not by who we are but by His grace and by how we treat our fellow travelers on the planet. Don’t turn your backs on the world’s most precious treasures. The light we shine to maintain our existence is the light that will transform the world and enrich others as well as ourselves. It is more than ever our duty to recover the relevance of our traditions to be engaged with each other.

Never doubt our wonderful capacity for generosity and forgiveness. We can teach the world a great deal about forgiving and moving forward. The assumption that all Jamaica can offer is mere survival and getting by is an affront to our dignity and not recognizing the magnificent contributions our people have made in every field of endeavor.

We should all stand for and represent a striving to achieve a high purpose. Our sense for meaning grows not by spectacular acts but how we treat the twenty four hours we are given each day.

On one of my visits to Africa, several of us were taken to see Mt. Kilimanjaro. When the guide pointed in the direction of this great mountain, none of us could see it. The guide pointed out that we were not looking high enough and directed us to look above the clouds. There is was in all its snow covered splendor made popular by Ernest Hemingway. Jamaicans are special. We are not regular, average or limited. We are great people whose only fault is that we do not aim high enough. We are guilty of low aim because we devalue ourselves and over value foreign. The ceiling of our aspirations is too low: a job, a house, car, flat screen TV and life insurance. We are capable of so much more. We have world changing ideals and power. We are only limited by our minds. What the mind can conceive and what we believe, we can achieve.

Our community’s need for thought, understanding, and intellectual expansion is profound and urgent. If it is not satisfied, we will be bankrupt, squandering a great legacy and opportunity.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I woke and saw that life was duty.
I acted and behold, duty was joy !!

Aspire to inspire, before you expire.
(Amy Grant)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Toast to Our Son, the Doctor

Toast to Our Son: Dr. Aleron Kong (May 15, 2010)

Son, you may recall that five years ago, we went to the Sushi Rock Restaurant for dinner and as we walked in I shouted: “Ladies and Gentlemen, our son just received notice that he has been accepted to medical school. Even though you almost died of embarrassment, you gracefully received the applause and congratulations of the other diners. Through toils and sacrifice, you walked across the stage today. Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise to your feet and welcome our new graduate: Dr. Aleron Kong.

Graduation is a major milestone in anyone’s life. Graduation from medical school is particularly special. As you can judge from their thunderous applause, you are the focus of all the proud family and friends who have assembled and all the well wishers who could not make it to the celebration. Your sisters, Jill and Melanie, your brother Fredie and your extended family want to “Big you up” and show you much love for a job well done. If you were sitting with me in the audience when you walked across the stage, you would have seen several buttons pop off as I stuck out my chest. I am a proud father and your mother’s eyes are red from crying tears of joy for the achievements of our washbelly son.

With all our struggles, we are extremely proud of not only for your graduation from medical school today but all your accomplishments. At PACE academy, you not only excelled academically but you were an incredibly competitive athlete. I remember the day we watched you at a wrestling match when you picked up your opponent and was about to slam him to the mat when you mother screamed: “Don’t hurt him!!!” Similarly, when you kept that boy’s head under water in Water Polo for what seemed like an eternity and again your mother screamed: “Don’t hurt him.” It seems to me that your opponents owe your mother a debt of gratitude.

You also handled your finances well. When we lived in Miami, you were only twelve years old when I hired you to clean my office after school for $10.00 per day. You saved every bit of it and invested in Pfizer before the announcement about Viagra. With the 500% increase on your investments, you bought your first car with your own funds.

You were also the youngest to have a driver’s license at PACE as I took you to Florida to get your license at 15 years old when your friends in Georgia had to wait until 16.

It is such an exciting time for all of us. It seems like it was just yesterday that you were heading off to kindergarten and now you are a doctor with a license to... heal. Thank you for the joy and pride we feel in this moment.

We hope that you enjoyed living at home and all these years in school and hope you are as excited about your future as we are. Next month, when you start your residency at Grady Memorial Hospital, we hope you will do the best that you can do and remember some of the important values we tried to teach you about the need for passion, honesty, integrity, respecting others and taking care of yourself.

While we will always be here for you, the sign on my desk reads: “Shun mediocrity: Let your light so shine before men that they may see you good works, and glorify your father in heaven. You attitude determines your altitude.”

You should now put your future in good hands - your own.

Ladies and gentlemen, please raise your glasses and toast the graduate!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sermons From My Mount (High Horse) Part 2

Forget me not, O Gentle Savior
Basil Waine Kong

I believe that human beings share a need to be a thought in God’s mind and to be the object of His affection or his attention. The song: “Pass me not, O Gentle Savior written by Fanny Crosby, in 1868, perfectly represent this sentiment:

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief,
Kneeling there in deep contrition;
Help my unbelief.

Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.

Thou the Spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in Heav’n but Thee?

He may punish and discipline us, only let Him not forget me or abandon me. Sometimes He takes a crow bar upside our heads, But in his testing, His sentence is never more than we can bear and He does it out of His great love for us.

Repentance and redemption are important concepts in Christianity. As human beings, we are destined to sin but a great renewal can be achieved by the miracle of repentance when we can start anew with a clean slate, a clean heart, clean hands and a clean mind. However, repentance requires honesty, truthfulness, remorse and responsibility. If it is coerced or done out of expected ritual or conformity, though not wasted, is not redemptive and does not carry the cleansing benefit and may even cause more conflict and misery. There is no return to peace without the readiness to examine ourselves for earnest, honest repentance before God. The harm we commit against others and ourselves is extinguished, transformed into salvation.

As we go through the cycle of sin, redemption, transformation and rebirth, through forgiving guidance from God, we become better and better, more and more enlightened, holier and holier with the goal of becoming one with God.

Leviticus 19:2 “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Woe to us if we cease praying and God should forget us. We long for God. Emotional satisfaction is impossible without Him. Shouldn’t you want to talk with Him often if only to remind him that we are here. He acts with mercy and love.

As the praises go up, the blessings come down.

Sermons From My Mount (High Horse) Part 1

Be Careful: A single Deed may Decide the Fate of Mankind.

Basil Waine Kong

I have become an old man, enjoying my retirement after many fruitful and joyful years. I have been blessed with good health, a loving and dedicated wife, successful children and bright, beautiful grandchildren. As I undertake the final leg of my journey, I take the occasional liberty of imparting thoughts regarding my relationship with God and share the significant truths I have discovered.

This is my testimony:

I have come this far by faith
Leaning on the Lord
Trusting in His holy word
He never failed me yet

My relationship with God, my spirituality and my commitment to live by Christian principles is an issue of the Heart that by its very definition must be based on faith.

Man without God and spirituality is just a torso. Life involves not only the satisfaction of physical and social needs, but also addressing a divine requirements for a relationship with the Almighty. This personal relationship with God requires an uncompromising commitment to human justice.

Religion without indignation for evil is intolerable. Religion cannot co-exist with injustice. According to Father Lewis (Stella Marris Church) "We must fight for what is good, we must fight for what is the truth, we must fight for what is just, we must fight for what is honest, we must fight for what is decent and that fight should not be exercised by some, that fight should be exercised by all and the truth is to be spoken by all." We cannot worship God and abuse others---physically or emotionally. I believe in the dignity, equality and respect for ALL human beings. You certainly can be better off but never better than anyone else.

Divine likeness is something all human beings share. Because we are created in the image of God, each human being is a reminder of God’s presence. Human life, therefore, is sacred and has intrinsic value. So, the murder of any human being is an affront to God and a grave moral sin. Even natural death of a loved one is traumatic enough much less the senseless and brutal murders occurring in Jamaica (particularly the likle pickney dem).

When anyone engage in acts of violence and murder, he or she desecrates the likeness of the Almighty. On the other hand, he who loves our fellow citizens, honors and gives pleasure to God. When Christ was asked what was the greatest commandment, He answered: “To love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul and the second was like unto the first, to love your neighbor as yourself". On these two commandments hang all the laws of the universe.

So, reach out to your fellow human beings, and beautify yourself with good deeds with integrity. These acts are the true essence of your beauty and strength. Your inner splendor can illuminate the world. The fear of offending or hurting another human being must be as sacred as your fear of God. To be arrogant towards God is blasphemy.

What does God want from us? I believe God wants us to serve Him with all our heart and soul; to keep His commandments and His statutes; to fear Him; to walk in His ways; as well as to practice honesty, stillness, humility, and obedience to his word. We have eyes to see, but see not; we have ears to hear, but hear not. God is everywhere but we cannot find Him. We have his words but we ignore them. I believe He is the way---the only way to a life well lived, happiness, health, eternal life, paradise, nirvana and enlightenment.

A life well lived means more than to accomplish something or even great things. It also means to make a contribution. If you aid a creature, you are helping God; If you aid the poor and downtrodden, you are addressing a concern or a need that God has. When you do good and reward good, you revere the spirit of God. When you smile at someone they smile at someone else. Do it often! When you do good, you increase the amount of good in the world that increases the likelihood of good coming back to you.

Religion is not based on our awareness of God, but God’s interest in us. The Great Architect who created the universe wants to have a relationship with you and me and want us to communicate with each one of us. You can open a channel to him at any time you wish and he is never too busy----that is amazing to me! In fact, I was always skeptical that God could know and want a relationship with every one of us until I realized that even now, you can send an e-mail to every person in the entire world with a computer in one second. We cannot even imagine what God can do.