Following the murder of two missionaries in Jamaica, social media erupted, mostly with condemnation, after Ashleigh Banfield, CNN Anchor, dared to call us an extremely violent country! How could this American who knows nothing of our struggles and our reasons for being murderous call us a violent nation!
I too raised eyebrows and I fumed at 75 degrees for just 3 minutes because before I got to boiling point, I realized something- she said nothing wrong, the statement could not be more truthful, Ashleigh Banfield was right! We are an extremely violent country. And no comparison with mass killings in the United States or Pakistan or Afghanistan or West Bank will change that fact. We are very violent as a country and the value of life has been diminished.
I have maintained and continue to maintain that any nation that tolerates indiscipline and disorder will become a haven from crime. And if we examine our communities closely, we realize how truthful that is and how tolerant we have been. Crime is only heart-rending when it is close to home. When one of our own falls victim. Eating a food has become a justification for disorder, disobedience and criminality with a rapid shift from “eating a one food” to a culture- our way of life; an acceptable norm. A theft a day, a rape a day, a murder a day is lauded for our average is usually four or five or six or worse.
We condone kids stealing little things… After all, they are little innocent kids and it’s only a little thing but it grows with them and the virtue of honesty is never enforced. Before we know it, we are in the street crying for justice for our sons and daughters who have met their demise at the hands of law enforcers or other forces when it’s a little too late. The small theft grew exponentially and in the process, the hands of our sons and daughters become bloodied. Oh how we wish then that they were scolded about the petty theft.
But they are not the ones I grieve for most (because I do grieve for those who have lost their way). It is the innocent souls, especially our young children who fall victims to criminals before we are able to apprehend them. I grieve when the news item notifies us that space at the monument for children who have fallen victim to crime is running out.
How is our target for murders every year “below 1000”? It should be below 100! It should be below 50!
The task to reduce crime we now realize, is not the job of any one minister or any one government. It will take a collective effort for us as a nation to address the monster called crime. It will mean us as citizens being less tolerant of the indiscipline and disorder that has become the modus operandi of a people. It will mean us working within the constraints of established structures and guidelines as we seek to “eat a food.”
It is painful to see missions being cancelled because our way of saying thanks to those who help us has become a game of Russian Roulette. Curbing crime will take a mix of short and long term policies from the Ministry of National Security and co-operation from all law abiding citizens.
So for now, we can accept what the anchor had to say as being our reality and work to change that, or we can continue hiding our heads in the sand and refuse to face reality. We are a nation of extreme promise and potential but our development will remain arrested… stagnant… blighted, until we become less of an “extremely violent country” and more of a nation at peace.