As I write this, Jamaica’s year-to-date murder tally has shot past the 1,000 mark and is rocketing towards 1,500 annihilated Jamaican lives by the end of 2022. In any language, this development ought to have rocked the sensibilities of every single Jamaican everywhere, and even more so, those Jamaicans who have accepted the responsibilities for managing the affairs of the country. The tragic irony is that the gravity of the statistics has hardly shifted the attention of those in charge. In any language, and almost anywhere else in the world the prospect of having 48 out of every 1,000 members of the population being murdered is a clear sign that such a country is not only at war with itself, but also an indication that personal safety is an issue, despite attempts by the chattering classes to posit this as only occurring among gang membership and other fringe elements. Such chatter only amounts to fooling ourselves.
The bloodletting among our population has developed an extremely long tail since 1972 when the country reported 172 murders. Fifty years later, we are well on our way to recording 1,500 murders for this year, against a background of a reported 90 per cent no confidence vote among Jamaicans (according to the most recent RJR/Jamaica Gleaner-sponsored Don Anderson polls) in the Minister of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force to address the island’s punishing crime problem. It is my opinion that the current situation represents the single largest threat to Jamaica’s development potential and is one that requires full national attention. I refuse to embrace any argument about “divine intervention” or, worse, the hypocrisy of the need for prayer. In fact, I am embarrassed by the speed with which “so called Christians” are ready to denounce others who do not share the stance they take…offering to pray away the murder and destruction that has taken up permanent residence in Jamaica. How do we apply these approaches to the young woman who was shot multiple times this past Tuesday afternoon at the Petcom gas station? How does prayer help the young man who was shot multiple times two nights ago in Kingston? How about the three or four or five persons, similarly shot to death-murdered, every day in Jamaica, leaving unspeakable grief and immeasurable dislocation among their family members? To what extent do we appreciate that for the majority of these victims, it will take the rest of their lives to comprehend their loss. What does praying for them do in the midst of their grief? How does praying help those people who are families and loved ones of those deceased?
How do you explain this to a woman who has sold produce in the market, or cleaned the filth in other peoples homes so that her daughter could attend high school and get the passes needed to go on to college, and ultimately break the cycle of stifling poverty that she has lived her entire life…How do you tell her that crap after she now has had to beg and borrow to bury that same daughter because a “shotta” demanded sex from her and because she resisted his advances he shot her dead. How do you tell her mother that crap and what will it achieve?
How do you tell the families of nearly 40,000 Jamaicans murdered in the last 40 years that prayer works when the vast majority of those murderers are still free to kill and kill and kill again, because in Jamaica a killer has a 90 plus per cent chance of getting away with murder.
I could fill this space with thousands of other instances where we run to religion and wax quite eloquently, oblivious of the fact that it is the responsibility of the state (not religion) to provide the security for the entire Jamaican population.
Richard Hugh Blackford B.Sc., M.S (Ed).
websites at: www.yardabraawd.com