WE had hoped that the unrest in West Kingston would not have escalated to the point it did yesterday. Our biggest concern was that lives would be lost, deepening the grief that has already engulfed the country from this and the other long list of violent incidents over many years.
But given the barefaced and vile attack that criminal gunmen carried out on the State on Monday, we cannot fault the security forces for responding in the manner they did in an effort to restore order and reestablish the authority of the State.
For no decent country can allow the rule of the rabble. The nation simply cannot have its stability threatened by the barbarian horde who would establish geographical boundaries of authority over which they wish to preside and dismiss the legitimacy of the State.
If that were to happen, we could be assured that the institutions to which we turn for protection, order and justice would disappear, opening us up to isolation from the international community which would declare us a pariah state worthy of sanctions that could prove detrimental to our survival.
Our hearts go out to the relatives and friends of those who have died in this conflict, and we are even more heartbroken for the fact that it need not have come to this.
But if we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have been laying the foundation for yesterday's events for a long time. We have, over the years, elected governments that are more concerned with the retention of power than with upholding the principles of truth and justice.
For a long time we have been heading for an explosion as those who have held the reins of government have given succour to criminals in their blinkered thirst for political power.
Over the past three decades, politicians have shown very little, if any, political will to deal decisively with gangs, crime, and violence, despite the almost daily pious outpourings from some among them who would have us believe that they are righteous and that they truly care about the welfare of the majority of Jamaicans.
The upshot is that we now live in a society that accepts as normal the blatant disregard for the law and respect for the rights of others — a society in which it is considered good to be bad and bad to be good.
It has to stop.
Maybe this unfortunate conflict will serve as a wake-up call to all well-thinking Jamaicans that we need to ensure that those who come to us for our votes are not tainted. Their lives should be opened up for scrutiny and their abilities and intentions tested by the electorate.
But even as we seek that ideal, we suggest that what this country needs is a few good men and women — people of sound character and integrity who have already made a success of their businesses and who would have no reason to dabble in the corrupt politics that now taints our two major political parties. And who would not get drunk with power.