Valerie Dixon

Text Box: Valerie Dixon

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According to popular legend, thousands of Arctic rodents called lemmings, at various times, rush towards a cliff and commit suicide by leaping into the ocean below.  This legend was firmly etched in our minds by a couple of film makers and broadcast widely by Disney.  Now scientist and ecologist Charles Krebs has cracked the mystery by stating categorically that lemmings are actually ‘dysfunctional’ rodents who murder each other rather than commit mass suicide.

Based on his research and observation, he states that the problems lemmings face, trying to live in their over-crowded world, make them behave aggressively towards each other.  The fight for turf and territory causes them to even commit infanticide (killing of babies) to create room for themselves.

  Dr. Krebs calls it “social mortality” where a stronger ‘don’ lemming simply kills in order to keep his territory free from invaders and to guarantee a steady supply of food for his pack of fellow rodents.

Another interesting finding of Dr. Krebs is that aggression seems to be hard-wired into the genes of these rodents (lemmings) as his experiments and observations have confirmed that violent and aggressive males, who mate with equally violent and aggressive females, produce offspring that are even more violent and aggressive than their parents.

What may have spawned the many legends about ‘lemming suicide’ as explained by Dr. Krebs is that when food becomes scarce, the lemmings must make a decision, to either fight and kill for territory or migrate to new areas where food and opportunity may be in abundance.

 Lemmings don’t need visas to migrate to new territories.  However, when the decision to migrate is taken, it is done on a massive scale and during this mass migration, the lemmings have to encounter hurdles such as lakes and treacherous terrain.  Many die along the migration route, but it is not suicide, as it is not done deliberately. The dead are merely casualties of “mass migration”.

Modern life is often likened to a rat race. (Rats, mice and lemmings are all rodents and rodents behave like each other.)  Why?  because much of the time, we behave like rodents.  Why do we behave like rats (rodents)?  Because life is a rat race as we struggle for survival and advantage, striving to maintain or improve our positions (niches) in the “socio-economic environment,” an environment which is very largely the product of our primitive, animal nature (rat-like rather than human).

It has been implied time and again, that the basis of the rat-race is the primitive aspects of human nature that our free market economy so “successfully” exploits:  they are fear, greed, competitiveness, the desire for a cheap or free lunch, for power and social status, in all of which money plays a central role.  The rat race can bring out these seemingly evil traits in us, but only if certain conditions are created.

In his book – The Book of Secrets, Dr. Deepak Chopra states that evil exists in every one of us as a shadow, but because most of us are raised to be good persons, we choose to exhibit our good shadow to the world and therefore seal up or repress the evil shadow. 

However, he has identified 12 conditions that he says can bring out our evil shadows.  The conditions are:  removing a sense of responsibility, anonymity, dehumanizing environments, peer examples of bad behaviour, passive bystanders, rigid levels of power, prevailing chaos and disorder, lack of meaning (about life), us versus them mentality, isolation and lack of accountability.

He says it’s not about who is good and who is evil, but about sealed-up energies looking for an outlet and a hospital, even though is established to do good,  can be rife with the very conditions listed above.  Patients are helpless under the authority of doctors and nurses; they are dehumanized by the cold mechanistic routine; isolated from everyday society; made more or less anonymous as one “case” among thousands and so forth. 

I now add the question, if a patient dies who is to be held responsible?  So given the right circumstances, everybody’s shadow energy will emerge.

Jamaica seems to be rife with the very conditions listed above, especially in our inner-city and garrison communities, where aggression and violence are rampant and socio-economic pressure and stress often make it difficult for some not to follow their primitive animal nature.

 Dr. Chopra states that primitive feelings remove the disguise of being “civilized”.  The most primitive part of the lower brain, known as the reptilian brain (from ‘reptile’ meaning cold blooded vertebrate animal), interprets all pressure and stress as a life or death struggle for survival.  He goes on further to say that at this primitive level “reasonable” sense of injustice is experienced as blind panic and blind ferocity.  Could this explanation help to unravel some of the reasons for Jamaica’s high murder rate?

Good family life should raise us to be “civilized” and not “primitive”.  Good family life should also raise us to respect our Creator and the Spiritual Laws of Life.  Ignorance of these laws will not stop us from reaping the terrible consequences if we break them.  A spiritual law says “Work for your food”.

 This law is summed up nicely in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-11.  As said earlier one of the basis of the rat race is the desire for a cheap or free lunch.  Too many of us have been at war – fighting and killing each other like rats and lemmings over scarce benefits and spoils, freeness and blighs.

Another spiritual law says we must pay our taxes.  Render under Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.  When we pay our taxes, we must demand accountability from the government about how the taxes are to be used in order to provide good roads,

schools, hospitals and other infra structure.  These things should not be promised to the tax payers as “gifts”, in order to secure votes at election time.

By the same token, the government must ensure that they do not over tax the citizens.  When they take more than their due through taxes, they enslave the people they are ruling.  If you don’t have money in a society, you have no freedom.  This spiritual law says “Reward the labourer”.

 In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul says, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.  And, the labourer is worthy of his reward”.   Otherwise there will be no incentive for people to work (of their own free will and legally) and this is the main reason why Communism (and Socialism to a lesser degree) failed.

Money is power.  Used wisely, guided by our higher, human nature, it can create a more humane, just and sustainable society, used unwisely (as it largely is at present) by our primitive and more animal nature, it will be to our complete undoing.

Another spiritual law that is ignored or disobeyed says “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind.  The second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” If you love yourself, then you want to live and if you love your neighbour, then you would know that he wants to live too.

In our relatively free Jamaican society, no one is forced to behave like a rat or a lemming.  We have the potential to transcend our primitive animal nature, to behave and become more like human beings.

By identifying the problems, we can find the solutions. Marcus Garvey sacrificed himself trying to teach us what these solutions could be,  but there seems to be some force at work that is determined to keep some of us living like rodents, rather than like homo sapiens which means ‘wise and rational man’.  This to my mind explains the mystery of Jamaica’s high murder rate.

17 August 2008

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Text Box:  “SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF LEMMMING SUICIDE RATE AND JAMAICA’S MURDER RATE”, which could well have entitled “SOCIAL MORTALITY”,  BY VALERIE DIXON, is a twister, taking the readers through a maze of social science disciplines, and drawn heavily on  theology, mostly Judeo-Christianity, idioms. 

This is a technical piece, almost for a specilists readership. The article’s heavy dependency on theological sayings might have been a ‘put off’ to a wider secular readership. Part of the contents of the piece could well have been taken from a sermon delivered from the pulpit. 

Nevertheless, Valerie Dixon’s traditional themes shone through.  A message of compassion and Christian ideals apparently emanated from a heart and mind full of care for her fellow citizens, perhaps obeying the ‘rule’ - “love thy neighbour as thyself”. As the Author stated -   “If you love yourself, then you want to live and if you love your neighbour, then you would know that he wants to live, too.”  

Yet one is bound to ask ‘who is listening?’  Nothing stands still, not even Christian values or   murder and social unrests. Each Era establishes its own value system. Social malfunctions demonstrated in parts of Jamaica’s society are perhaps signs of our time.  True, Jamaica does not have a monopoly on murder or anti-social activities. Valerie Dixon’s ‘pains’ will continue , partly because she cares and partly because she believes that she has a duty to sound ‘warning bells’. 

Valerie Dixons are found worldwide:  those who continue to take the mirror’s role, reflecting deteriorating and dysfunctional civilised values. ‘Without vision, the people perish’.
Sowers of seeds must realise that some of their seeds will fall on stony grounds, others will be devoured by greedy, selfish and immoral predators.   History demonstrates that, given the choice between ‘good and evil’, most of Humanity select ‘good’.

In a dysfunctional society, there will always be a place for the Valerie Dixons and their ‘warnings’, encouraging and supporting messages. “SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF LEMMMING SUICIDE RATE AND JAMAICA’S MURDER RATE”, calls on us all to choose the ‘moral high ground’. Yet - we should prepare ourselves to cope with those who failed to come up to our concepts of civilised values. 
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