New Year’s Resolution: Start The Year A Saint, End The Year A Sinner?

At sunset this evening it will be the start of a new year. Yes, sunset. As we reflect on the accomplishments of 2015 we must thank God that we have survived this long. 2016 is not at all a new beginning, simply an indicator of the passing of time. With that said there is no need for fancy resolutions.

Fireworks
Fireworks

A resolution according to my good friend Google is a “firm decision to do or not to do something”. Every year I hear persons saying they have a resolution for the new year. One that will make them more successful or progressive, but after a few weeks much emphasis isn’t placed on the very same resolution. So what is it about the new year that makes it so special? It is one of the few times in the year when the churches are packed and vows are made by congregants to be a better person in the new year. Sounds good on paper but to me it’s just male bovine waste product.

Why do you have to wait until the start of the year to make a decision regarding an improvement in your life? Time is a continuum and it doesn’t stop or slow down at the start or the end of any month. Resolutions can be made and should be made at anytime of the year. The emphasis placed on the new year’s resolutions is a representation of society’s often unnecessary influence. I remember years ago, when I was young, I made the resolution to stop eating meat at the start of the new year! To date, I eat more meat than bad boy Trevor. Well… maybe not. But I was not ready for that transition and if I do so in the middle of the year when I can go through with it, that will be a better resolution for me to make.

Make changes that you are really serious about and despite the time the changes are made, you will be able to maintain the change. That way you don’t start the year a “Saint” and end a “Sinner”.

Happy new year!

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Christmas: A Marketing Scheme

I woke up on the 25th day of December to a flood of messages wishing me blessings and season’s greetings. I received messages from persons who I have not heard from in ages and to be honest it felt good to be remembered. I later recognized that many of the notes I received were broadcast WhatsApp messages. So I was not a special as I assumed.

MerryOldSanta
1881 drawing by Thomas Nast

 

This got me thinking, of all the days of the year, why choose this one day to bring greetings? Why is this season celebrated as the ‘season of giving’? Can’t we give love every day of the year? In my view it is kind of hypocritical. The primary focus of the day is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is not known when Jesus was born so it would be very ironic to find out that on his actual birthday we don’t care about each other. The holiday is a great opportunity for us to take time off work and simple enjoy our family. But I don’t believe it should be labeled as a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ life, for believers, should be celebrated daily.

Let us look at the history of Christmas

There is no biblical reference to support the celebration of the birth of Jesus on any particular day. Early Christians couldn’t even agree on the day Jesus was born. The recognition of the birth of Jesus on December 25 began in the third century, which  is a period pagan festivals were celebrated. Eventually the pagan origin was not associated with the Christmas celebration as the day became widely recognized in Europe. The celebration featured secular parties and as a result some Christians opposed the celebration and in 1644 a law was established in Massachusetts which criminalized the celebration. The modern celebration started in the 1800’s when the German Prince Albert brought his country’s tradition of decorating evergreen trees to England when he married Queen Victoria. The custom was adapted by the USA not long afterwards. The giving of gifts is a long standing tradition and initially it was symbolic of the gifts brought to baby Jesus by the wise men. It was seen as a great business opportunity during the growth of advertisement in the 19th and 20th centuries. So how did we come up with this Santa Claus character? Well, by now I’m sure you know there is no over weight man living in the north pole who slides down chimneys to give gifts to children. How creepy would that have been if it were true? This creepy ‘mascot’ was created  based on Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was well known for giving gifts. He was actually known as ‘Sinterklaas’. No, he did not sneak into the houses of nice children, nor did he punish the naughty ones. He was adapted as the model for the character but the character we see today is the result of years of change. He used to be featured in many different colors but the red and white color we know was the result of a Coca Cola advertisement which presented him in those colors.

While I was young and ignorant. I assumed this fluffy character was real based on the incredible media and marketing which featured him. I often wondered ‘Will Santa come to country this year?’ and when he didn’t I would beat myself up for being a naughty boy all year. It is amazing how we can make things seem so real, by just believing.

So all these cultural influences and a bit of marketing created the shopping holiday we know today. The day we all eat more than we should. The day we pretend to love our ‘friends’ and ‘neighbors’ more than anything in the world. We try to cover up the marketing scheme by forcing people to believe that they are actually celebrating the birth of Jesus. While there are persons with the honest intention of doing just that, the primary benefit is for the businesses which makes the bulk of their profits this time of the year.

Don’t just give love on Christmas day, give it all year long. Give gifts to your friends and family when you can and not at a period defined by adapted cultures. It is so sad that Jamaica is so involved in this global tradition, while putting aside our very own!

 

-Aldeam Facey 2015

WhatsApp Groups Have Taken Over

With hundreds of millions of daily user, WhatsApp is now one of the most popular mobile applications on the planet. So much so, that when picking up a girl, if she asks you “Do you use WhatsApp?” you know you are totally in there. WhatsApp has a very useful feature which allows you to form groups. These chat groups allow you to share media and information to multiple persons at once.

WhatsApp Logo
WhatsApp Logo

It is very easy to create a WhatsApp group. All you have to do is open the app, click the three vertically arranged dots at the upper right, select “New Group”, type the names of the persons you want in your group (based on WhatsApp users in your contact list), create a group name and chat away.

So I was in a taxi the other day and I was puzzled at the driver’s attachment to his phone. He kept on listening to audio recordings and talking into the phone. When I enter a taxi it is always my intention to exit in one piece, so with a stern voice I said “Yow driva weh you a do! Watch di road!”. The car swayed a little as he was startled at the deep voice of the beast of a man who addressed him. All eyes were on the road hence forth. I later found out that he was conversing in a WhatsApp group created by the taxi drivers to provide each other with updates such as the location of the transport authority, blocked roads etc.

But WhatsApp groups are not only confined to the law breaking drivers of the Jamaican streets, a WhatsApp group is now the default choice for a group of individuals who need to communicate with each other. I am apart of about 10 groups now, and they are very active.

But while it is a very easy way to broadcast information, there is a severe disadvantage. We are becoming numb to these groups! Often times I would wake up to 400 messages and naturally most likely to ignore them. Thus, important information could be missed. I ignore messages at times because when there is a group of persons communicating in a group, the bulk of the conversation is “idle talk” and it can be very hard to keep up with everything.

While WhatsApp groups have their disadvantages, it is currently the most convenient and affordable way for multiple persons to communicate simultaneously. It is perfect if used in moderation, but you don’t need to create a group for EVERYTHING.

 

-Aldeam Facey 2015

Barbershop Fidelity In Jamaican Men

It is very hard to find a consistently good barber. A barber you can depend on to give you an ideal cut when you need it. I have had several bad experiences with barbers but I have found that men tend to be faithful to their barbers despite substandard service.

barber-shop pole

When I started UWI I used an old barber who worked on campus by the maintenance department. He was visually impaired and had NEVER given me a straight ‘line-up’, but still kept going back to him. I was mocked by friends constantly and I sometimes had to take a friend of mine with me to assist with the cutting process or to make corrections which would render my appearance publicly acceptable. It was really bad, but I kept going back to him. At the time he charged $250 per cut which was at least $50 cheaper than anywhere else in Kingston. It wasn’t about the money for me but I felt like I was his only customer and I just wanted to support him. It is unfortunate to mention that he passed on a few years later. A much younger barber took his place and he became my new barber. Despite the non-stop chatter, he gave a better cut. Not the best, just better. I simply refused to go to ‘Upper Cut Barbers’ and pay $1,000 for one cut! Well, I couldn’t afford it.

As I transitioned into the graduate student life, no longer confined by dependence, I gravitated towards a more promiscuous lifestyle, where my grooming was concerned. I was no longer faithful to a barber, I was more concerned with the service I received and if it wasn’t good, that was the end of it. Throughout my periods of promiscuity I have had straight cuts, lean cuts, patches in my hair, accidental chemical spills in my face and many other embarrassing moments. Should one stick to one barber until said barber learns how to cut as you please, or should one try as many as possible until one finds the right one? How does this relate to marriage?

I eventually found a barber in Papine and I adapted a new hairstyle which has had the ladies going crazy. I can remember having received a fresh cut from my new barber as I walked pass my old barber. Nothing was said, just a split second eye contact then awkward silence. That is how good a customer looks when they have found a better barber. I can imagine that is the type of lifestyle women enjoy. They take their hairdos much more seriously – generally speaking – and I am yet to meet a woman who is faithful despite the service received.

I find that we Jamaican men tend to stick to one barber as much as possible, despite the service. I don’t believe this is the attitude we should all employ to ensure the service we receive at barbershops are up to standard.

 

-Aldeam Facey 2015