Let’s conquer this mountain

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It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves — mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary

Crime again! Mi tired of this pussyfooting roun’ it! Aren’t you? Taxi driver shot and killed in state of emergency (SOE) area. Father shot and killed at nine in the morning in an SOE area! Could this really be true?

It’s time for straight talk and quick action to root out crime; pluck it up from the root. I am tired of the pruning and clipping solutions, aren’t you? Chop dung the tree and root it up, man!

Or maybe it’s time for us to realise the powerful truth in Sir Edmund Hillary’s words: It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

Let’s keep repeating it until we get it.For it is now very clear that fighting crime is not about fighting crime but about fighting the producers of crime. That’s real males (mostly) in our communities: neighbours, friends, cousins, sons, fathers… you!

Crime is an effect, not a cause. Crime is a symptom; the result of a problem. Because we are trying to fight crime we look to the police and treat it as a cause. Hence we continue to miss the mark. Police and security forces are not trained or equipped to fight crime. They are effectively prepared to control crime and uphold the law and maintain order and discipline.

Besides the corruption that has overtaken some aspects of our police force (that must be wiped out), we would find that they are doing a fine job and would do even better if left to function in their lane. This is not peculiar to us. It is the same mistake made worldwide, hence few nations have conquered the mountain.

Those nations that have do not fight crime the symptom; they fight the root causes, while controlling crime with effective mechanisms. The police force will never solve crime, no matter how much money is allocated to it. Even if we have enough officers to ‘man mark’ every citizen, that would not solve it, only control it. For the moment you remove the ‘man marker’ it would flare.

What we must therefore do is fight the causes and control the symptoms; this must be the overarching strategy. This is the approach of medical science, engineering and other fields. For example, a doctor who sees his diabetic patient with cuts and bruises that are slow to heal must fight the diabetes if healing is to properly take place.

I suggest that the primary cause of our crime and violence is injustice. Every crime is an injustice done by someone to someone. Our crime rate is high because injustice is extremely high. That’s the constant cry from the belly of our people “we want justice”.

Where there is a perceived just society, crime rates are low. More injustice, more crime. Most of our crime is committed in our inner cities and by people living there  our garrisons, rife with gangs, guns and people angry at ‘the system’, the wicked, unjust Babylon system.

Why is this so? They suffer the most of the nation’s injustice. Bad treatment by the police, education system, health, and justice systems, by the public services, by the public at large. They are constantly under the bombardment of oppression on every side; used by our political sector and abused by our private sector, then degraded by the church instead of being defended by the church.

If we ever decided to develop a just society, built on sound morals and right values inculcated in every family, school and community, I posit that crime will fall and thereafter be easy to control.

Our injustice as a society has its roots in the divisions deliberately created by the political system, underpinned by poor education, poverty and neglect. Now, after many years of that as status quo, we have a multiplicity of issues which have developed from it. Any serious search for crime solutions must find itself with acknowledging and reconciling the continued injustice being perpetrated.

We cannot deal with crime if we do not deal with its seed bed  tribal garrisons, donmanship, and the offshoots. We cannot deal with garrisons without the political will to admit the tribal divisions, commit to dismantling the garrisons and pointing supporters to the better way of unity and brotherhood. We cannot break the divisiveness without leaders of the two parties publicly acknowledging the wrong and negative path down which their parties have taken us and which has significantly contributed to producing the current status quo.

Therefore, with sadness I can boldly say, since our crime problem developed, the last 40 years have not had any Government or commissioner of police who have come up with a crime solution strategy. Either because of wrong diagnosis, ignorance or refusal to accept culpability and then to change. All any of the political regimes and the security forces have come up with have been containment measures and steps to disrupt criminals; some of whom were birthed and nurtured by the very political regimes themselves.

I have heard the boast by a few  both political and security defenders  that under their watch crime was reduced. It is true we have seen temporary lulls in the statistics, but as some social voices like myself loudly pointed out, it was not sustainable!

Yes, disruptive measures against criminals are necessary to make them uncomfortable, but they are not solutions. We predicted that solely engaging disruptive measures would, in a short time, escalate crime because a policy of disruption by elimination of gang leaders would cause dispersion for regrouping elsewhere. This disruptive elimination approach causes more leaders and more small gangs to emerge and in time multiply.

It is this strategy that I believe has spread the gangs across the nation, with hardly a corner now not suffering their negative impact. So what some security and political leaders boasted of as success years ago, is now a nightmare for current law enforcers.

Frank Phipps recently wrote an important article titled: ‘Wanted – A national hero to deal with crime’ (Sunday, October 06, 2019). He showed the role our seven heroes played to move us from enslavement to independence. He suggested a hero is now needed to complete the journey for a just and stable society and to bring peace and prosperity to the nation. He made a powerful and challenging statement:

“Every nation has had its hardships to bear and new challenges to face. How it deals with them is the measure of success or failure of a generation.”

Crime, violence and corruption are indeed the perplexing issues of our time, as slavery and colonialism were for our national heroes. Thank God they conquered those mountains! We too must conquer ours!

Sadly, most of our politicians and the Security Council are not mountain conquerors as yet. They have been trying for years. It seems not to be their expertise. Perhaps we need a different team similar to our Economic Growth Council, on the social side. They would be charged to develop a crime and corruption solution programme that would include the National Transformation Programme concepts and the recommendations of the many crime reports done; plus current additional thinking and best practices on these issues.

Recently, I was speaking with Dr Alfred Sangster who said the nation must come to a place where we declare war on guns, gangs and all violence producers; seeing them as enemies of the State.

I concur. We should develop and roll out a public campaign that displays a man with a gun, or our violence producing gangs as enemies of progress, prosperity, growth and development.

Crime needs radical action for a season but only as part of a total and comprehensive programme of social transformation. We can turn this nation around and defeat the crime mountain in record time. I have heard many say it will take generations to deal with our problems. I do not believe that.

We do not have a problem, given our size, that cannot be reversed and transformed in record-breaking time by a team of knowledgeable, committed, properly empowered and resourced people. Things are only difficult to those who do not know how.

Running under 10 secs is a breeze for Usain Bolt, but an impossible mountain for me. I would say it can’t be done, Bolt would look at me and laugh. Be careful how you say it can’t be done when you really mean you can’t do it.

The recommended solution to our root crime and violence issues is for a common agreement as a nation to apply what I call the fresh start approach. Be willing to forgive the past immoral and unethical politics that was driven by old-time divergent philosophies and which resulted in the harsh political division and tribalism now in Jamaica.

Dismantle the gangs that were allowed to emerge as enforcers of party politics and controllers of political turf. Set a date and time to draw the line to end the old and make a fresh start toward the new. This amnesty must be supported by both parties and by a massive communication appeal at all levels for guns to be turned in and dons to step down. Offer a gun amnesty with a declaration from the parties that there will be no shielding of supporters if they are caught with illegal guns after the amnesty.

Should the political parties not be prepared to commit to the voluntary fresh start approach, then the politically uncomfortable action to force change would be a truth for liberation and healing commission. It would serve to allow the wounds of the last four decades to be subjected to healing. The church should lead this action as I do not think it would need permission to ask people to share their stories of truth. It would need permission to get immunity for some.

Real change can only come by my voluntary commitment to a non-threatening fresh start approach or a truth and reconciliation-type commission. We must now go for what will bring a solution to crime and not mere containment. It is going to need a multifaceted approach: a spiritual strategy, a social strategy, an economic strategy and a combat strategy.

There are some good mountaineers among us. Put aside the politics, trickery and one-upmanship and let’s conquer this mountain, man! Time come. Enough is enough!

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will happen. — Mark 11:23

Copyright © 2019 by Rev Dr. Al Miller.

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