Embed the politicians

Tamara Scott-Williams

Sunday, September 30, 2012    

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We're acting as though the events of last week were the most heinous of things to ever happen. We're acting like it's the first time; as though tragedies such as these have never before occurred in our midst; we think our outrage and pain is going to change the situation, and if we wear black to protest it's going to make a difference.

It's not!

Not until we turn on our politicians will they begin to act. Not until we ask them to do without their personal security details will they fix the crime problem that affects the rest of us. Not until they are afraid to enter their homes alone after dark, or visit an unsafe neighborhood during the day without a chaperone, or go unaccompanied for a walk in the morning, or leave their wives and daughters to the whims of public transportation and security-guard free homes , will they seek to correct the huge problems of safety and security that affect the rest of us.

I dare you to ask your Member of Parliament to live for one week in his/her constituency without benefit of the trappings of government and see how many of them come out alive.

I looked back at a column I wrote nearly 10 years ago. The words are as fresh and as painful today as they were when I wrote: "We have become so inured to crime. When the murder count averaged two per day we were appalled. When crime now averages five every day we are appalled. When the figure moves to seven a day we will be appalled. Being appalled will be about as much as we can manage.

There seems to be very little we want to do except to be grateful, for one more day, that our lives and the lives of those close to us have been spared. That's hardly a life, living in constant fear. Lying low. Not sticking our necks out. Not getting involved. And making up sinister reasons as to why bad things happen to good people. We're not bawling out to those in charge of our safety and security that we can't take it anymore.

The burden of living in this fearsome, awesome place has beaten us into submission and has broken the backs of our men in uniform, too. Bad things have been raining down on us for so long, every day, they're all around us, and we have lost track of the names and faces and horrendous crimes that befall our Jamaican men, women and children: Braeton and West Kingston and Crawle and sex on buses on Thursday and gang rapes and Agana Barrett and Herbie Williams and the four-year-old girl that was taken from Coronation Market and raped so violently that her internal organs collapsed and the countless women who have been abducted and killed that we never hear about. And we take it one crime at a time.

"And each crime becomes a nine day wonder. And the nine days begin to overlap and every day more people are killed, raped, kidnapped, burnt, sodomised, beaten, chopped, stabbed and robbed. And every time we are grateful that it wasn't me.

"We just keep on keeping on. One day at a time. In so doing we do a great disservice to all the victims of violence and their families. We are told that over half of these crimes are as a result of domestic violence. We are told that crime has nothing to do with poverty. That's wrong: crime is certainly the result of our present condition. Futility, and hopelessness and despair and hunger have caused men to go berserk and chop their little girls' hands off with machetes."

In her address to the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly the prime minister of Jamaica in keeping with the Breaking the 'Cycle of Insecurity' theme said this:

"Mr President,

"There is a tale of a young woman from a deep, rural village in Jamaica who was approached by a political candidate seeking to represent her community.

"What is it you want most from your representatives?", the candidate asked her.

The young woman considered the question for a moment. Slowly and thoughtfully she replied,

"All I want is an opportunity ... I want you to provide me and my family with a living environment in which I can work, contribute and prosper. Most of all, I want you to provide for my family an environment that is safe and secure".

Mr President, our respective peoples have for hundreds of years looked to their leaders with great expectations. They elected governments that they felt could provide them with the greatest sense of well-being and security. Historically, and to this present day, they look to heads of state and Government to provide them, their families, communities and ultimately their respective nations with leadership and direction that foster that all-important sense of well-being, and feeling 'secure'.

I don't know if the young woman that the prime minister spoke about is herself. If it is, then I take it that she has made a promise to her own country - not just a great speech to a captive audience - but a promise to her own country to take charge of the situation and provide for Jamaican families an environment that is safe and secure.

I ask that the prime minister put every one of her ministers to live in and work from the communities that hurt the most and let them feel, really feel what 'normal life' in Jamaica is. Embed them, madam prime minister, and don't let them come out until they effect a real plan that's going to bring about real change.





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