The pirate’s cut is the deepest
“Old pirates, yes they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships.”
Those words were so profoundly placed at the very beginning of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. The song had a message that was obviously deep and personal because he, at the time, knew of his cancer, imminent death and mortality.
That is often the time when many persons want to give their final message after much experience with life and reconciling with its looming closure. Although listed in his reggae albums, the song is actually a crossover and not of a reggae rhythm or beat.
After championing songs such as Get Up, Stand Up and I Shot the Sheriff or Buffalo Soldier and all the liberation-type songs, was he trying to put the dot over the proverbial “I”?
What was he trying to say in the very opening sentence of his last song? Can we who are of this generation boldly accept all of what his soul was trying to share?
We should be aware that in this world of humanity we have character types that have followed us throughout our existence. For example, we think of those who crucified Jesus, who beheaded Paul or who killed Socrates as vile persons of the past.
Hardly do we consider the circumstances and what possessed those persons to commit such cruelty or that the same circumstances and personal characteristics still exist and the same phenomenon will be repeated by people over and over again.
Marley probably saw this playing out in his lifetime.
Even the Jesus or the Socrates was a character type, and their characters have been repeated, with the similar phenomenon exemplified throughout our human history and still present today. We each are tied to a character type that forms the basis of our attitude and character.
Everyday examples of this are continuously occurring; it is just the way of the world. That is also why it is a strong biblical narrative indicated by the story of Cain and Abel, or the story of the betrayal of Joseph by his own brothers at the well.
Sadly, in both cases, the perpetrators believed they were doing the right thing. It is through energetic elements such as that of love and compassion or the distressing elements like fear, jealousy or envy that act as fuel and create the soil from which the different characters will spring.
So what was Marley trying to say? For starters, we all know it was the Europeans who owned the merchant ships he described, but let’s think of who were the pirates?
Let’s take it in and be for ever just as mindful: the pirates were those African leaders who sold their captives into slavery. Wars that they fought between neighbouring tribes over jealousy and for control resulted in the decimation of the entire continent and once-powerful empires.
Essentially, black men who, rather than co-operate for the good of the whole, decided to eliminate whomever they did not like for the good of themselves. The net result is the destruction of everyone.
It is still going on in too many circles and, unfortunately, the redemption song in Marley’s last message has not put a dent in this nasty characteristic that contributes towards self-annihilation. It is too easy to blame the whites and also too easy to deny or even hide the hand of actual “pirates” who are present, as they always have been and selling our folks to the merchants.
It is easy to hide under the umbrella of a liberator or within a movement seen as the liberation front, as we have seen in South Africa and other places — unfortunately, envy and jealousy churn out their disciples wherever they exist. It is when those disciples have influence that their jealousy affects the lives of others.
Sometimes it is millions of others they affect because their narcissism is such that they will cause the pain of an entire nation to satisfy their blinding jealousy.
It happens in music, in business, in politics, in social clubs, in churches, and, yes, it also happens in families where individuals are so jealous of the possibility of the success of others, or that someone they dislike will supersede them, that they are prepared to destroy their opportunity and allow the man whom they call the oppressor to inherit or have the business rather than one of their own. Bermuda is replete with these types of examples and the evidence is clear and available, the ink dry and indelible.
One day soon, as the population becomes more literate, we will be able to colour in the faces of those persons whose functions are truly the pirates that Bob was trying to warn us about.
The catchwords that are a clincher of Bob’s visionary and spiritual message in his song are captured by the words inspired by a speech made by Marcus Garvey when he said: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”
The biggest problem in our community is not the “other man” and physical bondage; it is those pirates who are too willing to sell us back to the merchant ship because of their begrudging envy. It’s like we have to get rid of the fleas, but don’t kill the dog in the process.
For the community to heal and grow as a human society, love and compassion are the necessary elements; not envy or jealousy.
If one person succeeds, it means there is hope for others — that must be the attitude going forward. This also crosses racial lines because as one community flourishes, it provides possibilities, if not an example, for others.
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