Bad people and mad weather

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, October 05, 2012

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IT'S a week now since we exploded with rage, taking to the streets of Montego Bay, the Corporate Area (Kingston and St Andrew) and other areas, to protest against abuse, especially sexual, of women and children.

The question most often asked since the demonstrations, the speeches and the statement, is what next? Two brothers are being questioned for the Irwin Point incident - rape of five females, including an eight-year-old. The law has to take its course but in an environment where skepticism runs rampant, where few believe any effective action will follow, we have to wait and see. There's still talk of "hang them high" and restoration of the whip. Most interesting are the cries for castration, or "castoration" as I've even heard it pronounced.

The big surprise in that argument is that the sentence is often pronounced by men. One would've thought there'd be some aversion but apparently there are men who are not prepared to have their good names spoiled by those who would use their masculine appendage as a weapon of war. The disgrace of it is that nobody but these predators seem to know what the war is about.

We're accustomed to reports of invading armies in distant lands using rape to subdue and terrorise women as genocidal strategy. As far as we know, there is no genocide on the agenda here, although to hear how some people talk, we're at war with ourselves. Some members of the Diaspora family seem prepared to write off the very Jamaica which, only a few weeks ago, brought them joy and pride through the winning power of our athletes. No thanks to criminals, we've become the object of scorn and shame. You and I didn't do it but since we're here, our reputation is being challenged.

The perception of some relatives abroad is that we are all a bunch of lost souls. According to one letter writer to this publication, "too many seem to be living and acting like wild animals, without a care in the world, as they fend for themselves and act out their frustrations, emotions randomly on impulse". That's what it has come to.

The memories which most Diaspora people have of "a Jamaica of yore", was of the odd machete-wielding incident, a murder or two a year and nothing to fear but "duppy and dawg" when walking late at night. Those were the days, my friend. There was a time when we were not diminished by the kind of savagery which is upon us now. Dare we say, however, that it is not uniquely Jamaican? The loss of innocence is being mourned everywhere. Guns, drugs, deviant behaviour are not the exclusive province of this crisis. This is of no comfort. We have to face the facts but even while condemning the wicked and the worthless among us, spare a thought for the rest who are not wild beasts.

BAD NEWS TRAVELS fastest. Right now, the rape of children is the horror movie in which we're starring. We have every reason to despair but we can't wallow in that mud forever. We have to get moving with deliberate speed in finding way to turn up the heat on those who commit the most heinous acts, like betraying the trust of a child. A word like paedophile is not part of our daily vocabulary, like elsewhere. Unfortunately, it is here. Now, we must find a way to expunge it. We have enough bad words already.

The unending reports of brutality are drawing heavily upon Social Media. We're using it round the clock, with little fact-checking. As the bad news spread abroad, we hear of persons who are swearing they will never set foot here again. It is their right to stay or to go, to visit or keep away. We can understand the disappointment but do ALL of us need pariah treatment?

Is there even one Jamaican-at-home who has ever heard any of our family abroad admit to social disorder in their adopted country? No deviant behaviour there? In our little space, of course, no secrets are hid in these days of easy communication. Impressions are formed before they begin (Don't ask how). As a result, it would seem to suggest that very little that is ordinary and wholesome takes place here.

"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" No one is encouraging cover-ups or self-delusion, but is a balanced view possible? We cannot pretend that the ugliness is not here. We have to clean it up, not only for our own redemption, but for the name of the Jamaica which belongs to all of us.

WHAT'S TO BE DONE with the family left back here? Children left for others to care while parents re-locate to other places in search of economic advancement must also be on the agenda for action. How many of our family abroad know what is really happening to their offspring while they are waiting for "the papers to come through?" They are vulnerable to the incursions of the predators. Since evil is synonymous with silence, we do not know if we need to weep for them too.

There is urgent need for introspection at home and abroad if the image of Jamaica we love is to change. We have to find a way to stem the tide of murder and mayhem which is destroying our once-good name. Condemnation alone is not enough. Whether we live here or in Farrin, we cannot escape our responsibilities. The sooner we face the truth, the better ... Not everything in Jamaica is evil. Not everything in Farrin is good.

LAST SUNDAY NIGHT'S outburst of lightning and thunder scared the wits even out of Big Man. Old-timers have been searching their memory to remember a night like that. In the East St Andrew hills where we live, it was like war declared. Thunder bullied everybody into submission. Every thunder clap sent "man and dawg" scurrying for cover. As each barrage re-echoed through the valley, shook the ground, it shook like a maddened earthquake, evoking unpleasant memories of a broken wall and a damaged house.

The lightning "wheel and flash its frock tail" until people began to wonder if this was the end of time fe true. The electricity went out. We cowered in darkness until sleep mercifully offered relief. In the light of morning, people compared nature's tantrum to what, they said, can happen to us "through as how we get so wicked". Another view: "We lucky it wasn't brimstone and fire." Lucky fe true.

WHEN THE FLOOD WATERS came tearing down the valley on Sunday night also, we suddenly remembered that we've not been doing much for the environment, besides the usual talk-talk. Houses still being built in the riverbed were threatened. The soil was ripped yet again from the hillsides, encouraging landslides, mercifully small this time. In the full light of day, we watched river water run thick and foaming like "country chawklit".

The evidence of pollution couldn't hide any more. The new trap built by Water Commission into the spillway at Dam Head was to be thanked for cleansing the water of Styrofoam plates, cups, plastic drink bottles, scandal bags and other garbage in abundance. So, now we know why we have to check environmental pollution...and listen to the message of thunder and lightning, while giving thanks for being here still.




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