What happened in MonyMusk, Clarendon several weeks ago was beyond tragic and to this day I’m still challenged when trying to find the words to describe it. Personally when I think of those 3 young boys in particular (not that I’m discounting the death of the man), I think of my younger siblings and start asking myself a series of questions like: What if that ever happened to one of them, would I accept it as a loss?? Would I seek revenge?? Would I ever be the same again?? Would I fall out of love with Jamaica?? And those of you reading this whom happen to have children of your own or siblings just the same would understand where I’m coming from. Before I even begin the discussion, I just want to extend my condolences and prayers to the families of those slain.
But as tragic as it was, the news of the killings (sadly) did not surprise me at all. What it did however, for most people I should say, was underline a problem in our society that’s been a problem for quite some time now.
Crime and violence is, and always has been, Jamaica’s worst enemy and you can see where it really stifled and continues to stifle the potential of our country. But I’m not about to echo the generic sentiments of most in saying violence is wrong, and we need to target the at-risk communities with anti-violence campaigns and building more churches. What I want to do instead is get specific by highlighting three areas of concern that I believe we should put special emphasis on if it is that we genuinely want results in our pursuits to lessen crime and violence:
1) Repealing the popular Jamaican law: “see an blind, hear an deaf else informa fi dead”
If a crime is committed and you happen to be privy to information that would assist in justice being served, I don’t see why fear should compel you from coming forward with what you know. It’s a bit counterproductive and selfish that we grieve when our friends are slain unjustly, not to mention talk ill of the perpetrators of the crime but because the victim is not a child or relative of ours, we keep whatever information we know to ourselves. How is that helping the problem? And if your child happens to be the next victim, then what should stop a man then from doing the same thing as you did by withholding information??
2) Re-thinking how we socialize our children.
Sometimes people grow up to become child killers like the perpetrator of the Monymusk killings because prior to their adulthood, enough effort was not dedicated to moral education so they grow up without that compass to show them the difference between right and wrong. I’m appealing to parents and guardians especially, to take the time to sit down and reason with your children. The reality is, what you think they’re too young to know is what they’re already learning from their friends at school, from conversations they’ve overheard between adults on the bus as they journey to school or from the “gangster” on the corner who has managed to gain their listening ear somehow. We need to start having those deep conversations from as early as possible because not all lessons in life are best learnt on your own; sometimes it helps if you step in and be the teacher.
3) Redefining our methods for Conflict resolution
We’ve lost too many loved ones to this psychological disposition we have in making violence a first or last resort in conflict resolution. As able and conscious thinking human beings, it should be expected that we can disagree on an issue without the urge to harm the person(s) we are disagreeing with. The news reports on the killings are claiming that robbery was the motive, but It is also very possible that those killings might have been a result of a prior dispute that was unresolved. We are too intelligent and too valuable a people to be coexisting in such an irrational way. Where has the logic in our thinking gone?? What happened to thinking before we talk/act?? What happened to respecting the views/opinions of another as you would want yours to be respected?? Why have we allowed death to become a neutralizer of disputes??
As Jamaicans we need to be brave and we need to speak up when something needs to be said. The gunman’s intimidation cannot stop a collective as it would an individual, and that is something we can use to change things; because unity is strength. Our children will be the leaders and fixers of tomorrow, but if we don’t sit down and show them what kind of leadership they need to employ or what problems need to be fixed, then we leave that job to other agents of socialization that are stubborn on keeping things the way they are or worse off. Parents, you have the power to reshape Jamaica’s future by teaching your children the difference between right and wrong. And lastly, conflict doesn’t have to always involve blood and tears. We need to move away from this culture of “squeezing it out” and try “peacing it out”. A life should never be the cost to winning an argument.