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Crime talk: better or worse?

Barbara GLOUDON

Friday, January 10, 2014    

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The young man at the other end of the phone line was insistent: "Things are going to get worse before they get better." He could not be convinced otherwise. How about better before worse? "No, thank you. I just know it. Worse... it is going to get worse". He cannot see any light ahead, and the new year is not even a month old.

Reports of a fatal ending to a domestic dispute, stories of marauding 'shottas' taking the life of a young teacher for no discernible reason, all that and more has got our young man scared and devoid of hope. This is no way to start a new year. What are we to do? Fire the minister of national security, some persons have been saying. After all, that is what we have always recommended every time we have reached a place such as this.

We've been this way before. The most insecure post in the Cabinet is national security. When the wicked rail up and begin to scare the stuffing out of us — and this they have done many times — the first thing we do is call for the security minister's head. Currently, we're waiting for Mr Bunting's to be delivered on a platter, John the Baptist style. Unlike the original narrative, however, there is no promise of dancing.

We're convinced that there is a magic formula somewhere, waiting to rid us of the evil scourge which has plagued us for far too long. We've tried so many remedies before, some home-made, some imported. We've called for resignations. We've hurled insults, not at the criminals as much as each other. We've divided the blame between elected officials and public servants, the latter carrying the title of commissioner of police and/or the people's choice, in the persona of a popular cop — with a Rambo message, Renato DeCordova Adams, where are you now? Seriously, though, what are we to do, at least to let the young man with whom we started this sad tale, believe that we cannot let worse overcome better?

"Worse" includes children who become victims of acts of violence involving adults. There can be no excuse for children to lose their lives, even if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught in the crossfire. Nor is it acceptable that their fathers were not aiming at them. The real targets were the mothers. It doesn't matter. Young lives should not be added to the ugly statistics. We lost 41 of our young in the darkness of last year, all victims of adult insanity. No wonder the young man sticks to "worse before better".

As we look for solutions, it is easy to confuse fact with fiction. How come in CSI the cops, in half an hour, inclusive of commercials, can find the accused, solve the crime, bring him before the court, have him tried, convicted, and sent off to prison? Why can't we do likewise? Sorry, this is reality. This is no TV drama. No matter how much we wish, we have to clean up our mess in real time.

So, where's the hope? Where's the optimism to push back the pessimism? We're talking and texting and posting and blogging, but beyond the usual cursing of the darkness, we have yet to produce a solution of our own. Could it be that it is because we do not see ourselves as being part of the solution? Our response: "That's the minister's job and the job of the commissioner of police and the cops, whose work is to be vigilant throughout the night and day. It's their work to keep us safe, and if they can't do it, then kick the lot of them out to go find another work".

If they don't work miracles, then find another set. And when those are worn out, show them the door, just like we did the ones before. As for the politicians, there is always elections to set things right...but, wait a minute...how recently have we heard talk of the role of the community in helping to save itself? Every community has become a place of dark secrets. People know but are not talking. So, where are we going?

It is little consolation to hear that crime is everywhere. No country is without spot or blemish, but that can't help us now except... except what? Social intervention. What is that? The theory is that if everybody could have a job, we would all evolve into responsible, caring citizens. So, let's talk as much as we can about fiscal responsibility and growth and development.

The only problem is, where are the jobs coming from? And if they do not materialise, then "wi corner dark!" What to do with the shottas? The popular answer comes: "Send them to country to farm. Work them from morning till night. That will fix their business. Keep them so tired that they will have no strength for criminal activity, except for praedial larceny every now and then." Is this the best we can do to restore the confidence of the young man who sees nothing but "worse" in his future?

It is too early in the new year for surrender. Worse - Better, Better - Worse, we have to face it. Choose this day, which we will serve. Let's stop fooling ourselves. There is no silver bullet, as they say in movies, no sheriff who comes to town to clear up the problem in time to "run the bad guys outta town by sundown". It looks good on screen, but it takes more than that in the cold light of reality.

NEIGHBOURLY LOVE?

More and more persons turn to spiritual matters which can produce its own challenges. Here's an interesting one. Last Saturday on the grounds of Jamaica College, a family event was held, bringing together young and old. The event started at 10:00 am and a time of good, clean fun was had by all, appropriately in keeping with a Christian event, as it was designated.

After the fun had gone on for 12 hours, it wasn't so friendly any more to residents of a housing development which shares a boundary with the College grounds. Noise -- no matter of what kind -- going through the day into the night can be difficult to cope with, especially by the seniors. Across the street, residents of a section of Mona Heights, whose homes were in the direct line of "fire", also faced the noise challenge.

Some time after 10:00 pm, as reported, the police closed down the event, evoking anger from the promoters. From some of the quotes later reported, it seemed that because the event had the name 'Gospel' attached to it, the termination was interpreted as an attack on Christian values. One of the planks of Christianity is "love your neighbour as yourself" which should make it easy to accept that our neighbours deserve peace and quiet too, eh brothers and sisters? However, many railed against the shutdown.

The verbal attack on the superintendent of police who gave the order for the turn-off was not exactly a display of neighbourly affection. He was doing his job, but some persons, according to reports, did not see it that way. One of many online quotes said: "We call ourselves Christians and yet the law was quick to stop the Gospel." So much for this neighbour business.

NOTE FROM THE CONSTABULARY: Don't take on anymore pit bulls. A 14-year-old boy has lost his eye in an encounter with one in St Andrew recently. A young girl was killed by another over in Westmoreland late last year. So dogs are supposed to be man's best friend...but not if he could chew you to pieces. Pit bull aficionados don't agree, but why do they take chances?

gloudonb@yahoo.com

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