What does freedom mean to you?
As a 3rd generation Jamaican I recently learned from visiting this country that being free doesn’t necessarily mean freedom.
You see my travels to the Caribbean island of Jamaica shocked me, an island that was a dumping ground for slaves and as some shared with me in Portland, slaves that were troublesome and not taken elsewhere.
The more I spent time with my ancestors, I saw clearly that even though they were free from slavery, the mind of the typical Jamaican was still stuck in the past and within the mental prison of being ruled by someone else.
A local in Kingston told me that “In Jamaica, when America says jump, we say how high?”
I was saddened by the growing local uptake of the American diet, a culture of materialism and acceptance of ‘island life’, a lack of effort and momentum that I believe prevents the growth of what I see as a high-potential island economy and culture. Having lived in a tiny prosperous island like Singapore, I know better than to think the size of the country has to limit its potential.
Jamaica has many huge success stories from sports to music to agriculture and what I saw was resourcefulness, resilience, physical & inner strength and land. So why could this not be the typical mindset?
A reminder to me that we choose which way our path goes.
This journey to my hometown taught me more about my history, it showed me the qualities of my grandparents, an understanding of their upbringing and why they are who they are today.
Some of the characteristics I see passed to my mum and therefore myself. However, the deciding factor for both my mum and myself in taking a different pathway is that we consciously choose what kind of life we want to lead.
To take advantage of the fortune we were given when my Grandma made the brave decision to leave a small island to live in England and to use the undeniable characteristics of resilience, resourcefulness and work on our minds by empowering ourselves with new knowledge that allows us to take a different path.
Gathering a good understanding of your history and heritage allows you to build awareness of patterns of behaviour that may have been passed to you ancestrally, but that may be causing you to sabotage you and prevent you from taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to you.
For me, the understanding of your history allows you to understand where you have come from but also where you want to go. That, for me, is the essence of freedom!
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