Jamaica Gleaner op-ed columnist Vernon Daley tells a harrowing tale in today’s column titled “Beware the Panic Button.” He was a passer-by shortly after the shooting of (7) seven people in a drive-by shooting, and his passengers, shaken after witnessing the horrors of that crime’s aftermath expressed a desire to see a “shoot first, questions after” model of policing take effect in Jamaica.
Is the solution really to unleash the police on the poor and badly-connected? To paraphrase Daley’s point – no, that way madness lies.
I cannot help but have great empathy for people who feel the way Daley’s passengers feel. Increasingly they find themselves under siege by crime in Jamaica, and with the higher murder rate comes attendant stress, ceaseless concern about the safety of loved ones, and a general decline in their quality of life. Daley must therefore be credited for writing this reflective column which is more credible and potent given his close personal experience with this crime scene.
Jamaica did not come rapidly to the quagmire in which it now finds itself. The “carnival of misery,” as Daley terms it, has come after a process whereby we have steadily reduced our expectations and our standards. It has been a slow and steady creep to carnage, and along the way to this point too many of us a yard and abroad have been braying partisans — less concerned with performance that we were with party.
As Bob Marley was good enough to point out in ‘The Heathen’:
“As a man sow shall he reap, and I know that talk is cheap.”
It is all the political partisanship and the pit of the intellectual garrison into which we have fallen that is causing our pain. We need to embrace the truth of what happened after independence with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We need to de-garrisonize Jamaica. None of these are revolutionary or new ideas – but people have not risen up and made the government do what needs to be done. We are allowing the politicians who are the creators and beneficiaries of crime to pretend they will fix it.
As Maria Shriver popularized a few weeks ago, there is a great Hopi proverb that says “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” This is also true for Jamaicans.
A few weeks ago in a bold and heinous act a young woman was murdered in Half-Way Tree. What struck me the most in the Sunday Herald’s article was her relative’s response to public speculation her murderer’s motive was to silence her after she witnessed a murder.
…If she saw somebody being killed, she is not the kind of person who is going to tell anybody that,” one family member said…
We have to take responsibility as Jamaicans at home and abroad. If we don’t become the kind of people who report crimes we may well become the kind of people murdered by criminals.
We can’t throw up our hands and ask for someone else to save us like the Observer did today in its editorial.
Once again, we urge the political parties to expunge from their ranks, those who consort with criminals and defend illegality.
They are absolutely right, in all the conclusions of their editorial. But we can’t continue this pontificating and hand-wringing. The Observer can do more than URGE political parties to expunge their ranks, it can publish the stories about politicians who consort with criminals. It doesn’t need anyone’s permission to do that. Until our media do that, their silence will continue to be consent; and the Jamaican media will continue to be complicit in every act of public graft and political murder.
The heathen back dey pon di wall, guess who are the heathens in today’s Jamaica; the criminals or everyone else?