In an article at the beginning of the month, titled ‘Seeds bear the bad fruit’, I stated that:“We are only in the second month of our new year and already we are forced to seriously reconsider this crime issue” I went on to argue that, “We should have been able to move past this plague in our nation, years ago.” But it seems this is just not the case. Come on now, aren’t you tired of this?!
In a country that right now has some of its brightest and best in political office and Opposition, church, civil society, and the private sector and judiciary leadership, we seem hampered or hamstrung in this matter. However, I am an angry optimist. I really believe we, all together, can deal with this crime monster. The strongest and most united action is needed now. We must dig out this insidious national parasite by the roots. It’s time to cut off the tentacles that support and sustain it.
In addition, a multifaceted approach targeting each level — political, family, educational, business, church, and social — must be employed to deal with our criminality and penchant for murder, corruption, scamming, ‘bandooloo’ and just ‘thief’. It is time we look at the key players necessary for maximum impact to take down the monster in the shortest term.
Our politicians, police, educators, church leaders, and business operators can no longer selfishly work for their own interests. For God’s sake and for our own best self interest let us deal with this crime and murder scourge as a team of well-thinking Jamaicans.
We cannot have a country in which fear dominates and drives all decision-making processes. Think about it, when we plan we all take into account the issue of crime. We can’t hold this meeting at that hour, we perhaps should meet in another location, we shouldn’t, we mustn’t, we must be careful, we should avoid, are all common phrases now when we plan all because of some violence producers that we are allowing to run unabated among us. Without empirical evidence, but rather top-class street knowledge, the numbers of the criminals cannot be more than a high of 10,000 and low of 4,000, and the real hard core criminals actively engaged across the island cannot be more than maximum 600 young males committing serious mayhem and disruption for the lives of a few million.
Who or what is emboldening and empowering young males to walk into our public spaces in broad daylight with high-powered weapons and with intent to kill and cause mayhem?
Why does it now seem that the cover of night is no longer an issue for our violence producers when they commit acts of criminality and drive fear into the hearts of those they attack and those who hear about the attacks? Can we be content to rule over a nation in which the most dominant emotion is fear? This should be a grave concern to all of us as citizens; not just our government leaders.
What hampers our fight?
So, why can’t we succeed at conquering the monster of crime and violence? Here are some questions we should ask and answer:
• Are we ignorant to its root causes? I don’t think so, as enough research has been done, commissions established, and recommendations made to provide us all with critical and relevant information.
• Are some of our political and business leaders benefiting from crime and violence and therefore unwilling to see it conquered? That’s possible, but I would like to believe that such thinking and engagement is fast fading from among us. If it proves to still be a major current reality then they should be aggressively hunted down and treated as enemies of the State. Sadly, too many indicators suggest that it could still hold true in some measure.
• Is our legal system, particularly our criminal lawyers, benefiting from the growth of criminal activity?
• Is the Church too fearful to play its part in defeating the crime monster? That may very well be the truth, however, its mandate to create a peaceful society and to love and care for souls should drive them to engage in transformational activity.
• Is our national moral compass now so low that we are at a loss for solutions? Certainly not, so let’s apply the necessary solutions.
It is important to ask questions like these and to honestly answer them.
Built to conquer, then why not?
“We are built to conquer [our] environment, solve problems, achieve goals, and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve.” If this statement by Maxwell Maltz, late American surgeon and author, is correct — and I believe it is — we must seriously ask ourselves, all decent law-abiding citizens, why we have yet to conquer this monster of crime and violence?
In my previous article this month I also suggested that it’s “Time to admit that we have failed!” The failure is not just the problem of this current crop of government and private sector leaders. Our failure is at all levels; you, me, family, church, school; we all bear some responsibility. Our crime and violence issues are now very evidently tied to our socio-economic, sociopolitical and socio-educational systems that we created or we inherited and made worse. The children who are now our violence producers are mostly the product of our families, communities, and weaknesses of our systems.
Even for the good, quiet Christian, law-abiding citizen, we fall under the condemnation of an old adage which says: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” Many of us saw the growing trend and kept our silence. Many of us are able to see the downward path where this trend is going to lead us and we must no longer be silent or unwilling to take responsibility and act. We must understand that the good life of our island nation is at stake.
Charlene Li, Harvard Business Review writer, noted in an article titled ‘The Art of Admitting Failure’ that, “You are much better off admitting that something is wrong and addressing it in as authentic and transparent a way as possible.”
The good news in the midst of the bad is that we now seem to have in place some political leaders who are no longer so filled with political and personal ego that they cannot say they have failed. Minister of National Security Horace Chang seems to be one such person. Some recent utterances attributed to him seem to indicate that he believes Alexander Pope’s utterance which says, “No one should be ashamed to admit he is wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”
But as good as it is that we can admit failures, it’s time that we rise to an even higher level. We must be willing to truthfully admit why we are not conquering or succeeding. We must be unafraid to admit the truth of our past that has created the present in order to allow healing of our divisions and renewal for a fresh start.
This is where a Truth Commission-type entity may be a needed initiative to facilitate the process of healing. I am not at this time in our history advocating for a Truth Commission that is focused on simply wanting truth for knowledge to expose, embarrass, or prosecute. Rather the commission should be just enough to break the nexus of the past, heal the wounds, and set a course for change and a new day.
My humble opinion is that our new-era prime minister and our leader of Jamaica’s faithful Opposition are better positioned now, than their predecessors, to facilitate such turnaround. For the past was their inheritance, not their creation, even though they may have deliberately or inadvertently contributed to it. All of us want our crime-facilitating systems changed but to date, both parties have been watching one another for nobody wants to make the first move. The fear, of course, is the loss of political capital.
I must remind our public servants that our country is not where it was two or three decades ago. Citizens want to get past the past and embrace a prosperous future. Our leaders need to seize the moment!
The question is, in an election year, does the prime minister have the courage to initiate the radical change action needed and will the Opposition stand with him.
It’s all hands on deck time! It’s kill this crime monster time now! We must halt the negative influence of the past, set and declare a new paradigm in the present and chart a new course for the future and for prosperity for this Jamaica, land we love.
Copyright © 2020 by Rev Dr. Al Miller.