The silence is deafening!

Letters to the Editor

The silence is deafening!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The current silence around the runaway COVID-19 figures and related deaths in Jamaica is frightening.

At a time when community spread is taking place there needs to be a much more determined effort at containment if we are going to survive this pandemic with any reasonable prospect of recovery in the foreseeable future.

There seems to have been a policy shift that has softened the Government of Jamaica's approach to containing COVID-19, and much of the population have followed suit. Some Jamaicans have simply bought the message that we have to live with the virus and have done nothing else.

I cannot accept and embrace the apparent posture of throwing in the towel and playing dead when human lives are at stake. Human life, created by God, has intrinsic worth and dignity, and must be valued, therefore all life must be valued if there is going to be human flourishing and the well-being of community. There is hardly any justifiable trade-off that can be made at the expense of the life of a human being and so the protection and preservation of human life must be paramount.

It is against that background that I ponder why the general population has become so silent. There seems to be a level of numbness and a sense of “whatever will be will be” playing out before our very eyes. One wonders if our attitude to the novel coronavirus pandemic is mirroring our response to the horrendous crime situation in our country. Unfortunately, we have learnt too well to live with a high murder rate in Jamaica as if this is our lot which we all must accept.

I call upon all Jamaicans at this time to shake off the inertia, to break the silence, and to arise from our stupor as we redouble our efforts to combat the deadly COVID-19, as there are some things that all of us can do.

The Government of Jamaica needs to adopt more aggressive containment and corresponding communication strategies to ensure that the messages being communicated reach everyone, since there are still a lot of misconceptions and a noticeable degree of apathy in the public sphere. We need to adopt an 'all hands on deck' approach so that every department, ministry, individual, and the entire population clearly and consistently carry the same message.

All of us need to take greater responsibility for our lives by following the local and internationally accepted guidelines and regulations, and we should encourage and embrace not just the letter but the spirit of the law. Churches and the private sector can do more and need not await directives from the Government to make certain decisions that have the potential to save lives.

I challenge my fellow Jamaicans to remember that one of the strongest hindrances to the spread of the disease is a commitment to neighbourliness. Let us note that when we wear masks, physically distance, and wash/sanitise our hands we do so not only out of self-love but the love of the other. So let us go the extra mile to protect our neighbours, especially the elderly, children, and individuals battling illness during this period of vulnerability.

Whatever the balancing act employed by the Government in the face of the economic turbulence affecting the world at this time, the preservation of life must take pre-eminence. We are a resilient people; we can rise from the ashes, but only if we are given a fair chance at survival.

Rev Merlyn Hyde Riley

c/o karl.johnson@jbu.org.jm


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