These things should bring no joyThursday, October 14, 2021
Who else realises how social media has been a window into the soul of our people?
It has been sad to see the comments with regards to “Dog Paw” (Christopher Linton) with his infamous history, or the mentally ill who are shot and killed after doing deadly violence on someone.
People express praise and joy as they circulate the bloody image of the demised. Some even say, “Hallelujah!” And the rest of us remain silent in the face of a system that has no rehabilitative net for the child who has been expelled from high school. But who cares? This child, who lacks the supportive context of care, nurture, and any required intervention, then becomes a victim of the attendant consequences of neglect from the very State that facilitated his expulsion.
We are, for the most part, comfortable with news that a mentally ill person who has attacked or killed someone was later killed by the police. It does not matter what the context of that killing was. The fact is, it speaks to a deeper problem than frustrated or culpable police, and even a broken system.
Then there is the matter of the many who believe that the answer is to just take them off the streets and lock them away at Bellevue Hospital. We continue to hear the voices of fear and ignorance. The notion of locking away the mentally ill gives us a sense of accomplishment. The idea of their being killed by the police gives a sense of things under control. But is this the kind of society that we want, where the most vulnerable meet their death at the hands of the State, when said State fails its troubled citizens?
Who will advocate for widespread and effective community health care for the mentally ill? Who will do the reaching out and rescue for the expelled child who faces a judgement of finality. A judgement that says, “End of a flourishing life for you!” And when will we become more concerned about our fellow citizens who have not had the privilege of the basic life coping skills to equip them to make better choices?
We are a far cry from truly understanding and appreciating respect and value for everyone. We also continue to feel complacent in our moralising platitudes and religious declarations. What will it take for us to live justice, peace, and compassion for all? May we, together, explore a more excellent way for a better Jamaica.
Fr Sean Major-Campbell
Anglican priest and human rights advocate