January aside from being my birth month holds several distinctions and honourable mentions. For example its the start of a new year…very liberating. It hosts the birthdate of Martin Luther King Jr. The 16th was observed as Religious Freedom day and the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust was observed on the 27th this year. The month is also celebrated as National Mentoring Month; National Glaucoma Awareness; Cervical Health Awareness Month; National Blood Donor Month; Birth Defects Prevention Month; National Stalking Awareness Month and National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention.
All of these led me with my ever curious mind to try to find a commonality or a common strand to rationalize the placements within this month (outside of birthdates that is). Because after all, when naysayers and detractors seek to denounce January as the greatest month there will be clear evidence to silence them. One of the most resounding and resonating words was FREEDOM. Think about it, to have your health means you are able to function and be mobile in a fast paced and productive world. To raise awareness about the situations – both of the past and present- which limit peoples’ movements, facilitates action that will remedy these situations. For example the trafficking of peoples and their subsequent placement in subjugating, inequitable and unjust settings is tantamount to modern day slavery. This activity must be shamed and perpetuators brought to book for these crimes. Similarly, economic and political conditions which results in harsh socio-economic condition resulting in disenfranchisement and the disenfranchised committing criminal acts must also be addressed. Acts such as prostitution, lottery scamming and a festering gambling problem are all symptomatic examples.
So what does FREEDOM really mean?… I posit that freedom means more than having choices; freedom means being given /afforded accessible, viable options. This would mean that all players must be accountable. The purveyors and vendors of the ‘OPTION’ commodity must ensure that they are in fact offering the best alternatives. An ‘all hands on deck’ approach and all levels of production must be ‘turnt up’ to provide and produce the optimum product. If not do we really have choices? Can we freely exercise our franchise? Are we really free in the truest sense?
On February 25, 2016 Jamaica will have a general election. Most elections can be decided early based on the popular polls and gauging the ‘voting/voter behaviour’ using historical trends and patterns. Patterns which are mainly formed by culture and generational choices passed down through the ages. However as with any other contest, there will always be those who abstain, those who decide that for one reason or the other they will not participate. That group with additional and targeted campaigning may be ‘whittle down’ and opposing sides may garner some additional votes. But its a tall order and ‘indecision’ is not to be scoffed at or criticized. Instead it must be examined and analysed.
Populations are demographically structured in every country. Further, economists, development scientist , sociologists etc, have categorized populations according to timelines, see summary below.
The Lost Generation -The Generation of 1914 (1890- 1915)
The Interbellum Generation (1901-1913)
The Greatest Generation (1910-1925)
The Silent Generation (1923-1944)
Baby Boomer Generation (1945-1964)
Generation X (1961-1981)
Generation Y – The Millennials – Gen Next (1975-1995)
Generation Z (1995 2015)
The Generation Y – The Millennials – Gen Next (1975-1995) is a ‘hard sell’ group of individuals. The group constitutes those who are eligible to vote for the first time or who are expected to vote ‘this time around.’ Most of the ‘undecided’ individuals eligible to vote may be found in this group. In a 2014 study by the PEW Research Centre, millennials are described as, ‘relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry— and optimistic about the future.’
Appealing to this group then is a great challenge though not insurmountable. This generation is smart and intuitive. They are determined to forge their own path, which may explain the un-attachment to organized institutional groupings. Subsequently, the individual ‘millennial’ voter must be assured that he/she will be ‘free’ …that is that he /she will be able to thrive and claim a destiny on an uncharted path.
The rhetoric and cryptic, unsubstantiated claims will not convince the millennial. He/she lives a ‘learned life’ one that is full of evidence of results and success. These evidences act as blueprints to their own successes. The millennial is a ‘now’ generation which does not need coddling of any kind just the resources to make of it what he/she will…unbridled, unfettered though accountable freedom! Thus that may be one of the strategy to engage with this group of individuals, who while respecting the struggles to guarantee their rights to vote, now accept that that right is theirs to exercise if and when they so desire….if at all. This is all a part of ‘what freedom means.’ so if they are given more than just some choices for the sake of offering something then that is unacceptable. Give them accessible and viable options where they themselves can aspire to as well as admire and respect (examples and results).