The last time I felt any deep stirring emotion after seeing a headline was in 2020 when 8-year-old Galen Buchanan’s body was found in the Kingston Harbour with his hands bound. It was later discovered that his stepfather had kidnapped and murdered him after the relationship with the child’s mother soured. I was so shocked and hurt by the story, the taking of an innocent child’s life, that I was moved to tears. I resolved however that I would never again allow a news story, no matter how vile or horrendous, to make me feel that kind of sadness.
Does that mean I have sacrificed my humanity? Does it mean I am cold or lack empathy? I have decided it means I’m protecting my sanity.
In a country in which murders of children, the elderly, women, and men are all par the course, if I were to allow myself to be shaken by every terrible headline my days would be filled with misery.
I have heard people say that they do not watch the local news as it is too depressing. These are sentiments that are shared by many Jamaicans. The news is, however, just broadcasting the Jamaican reality.
Horrific acts like the recent murder of a mother and her four children are honestly not that shocking when placed in the context of the seemingly endless count of heinous murders which have occurred in Jamaica in the past. What reprehensible, vicious crime have we not seen as a Jamaican society?
It has got so bad that when I see the statements of others expressing shock at the latest incident I silently wonder if it is manufactured consternation. I then chastise myself for having become numb to just how wicked the taking of a life is, and the immense pain, grief, and loss felt by the loved ones who are left behind to mourn.
A friend of mine lost his mother a few years ago. She was murdered in front of him. It has affected him greatly and he is yet to heal from it. His outlook on Jamaica has changed and he sees it as a crime-infested country incapable of redemption. He calls it Gotham, but unfortunately for us there is no Batman. Jamaica has no masked saviour that will fight our evils for us. We have to do that ourselves.