For those who celebrate and enjoy Christmas, this season of ‘joy’ is turning out to be one of dread in Jamaica. Why? Because, as a society, we condone violence against each other as a means of resolving problems, from the earliest age, yet we stand awe-struck when that same attitude takes its ultimate toll as one human takes the life of another, often over something seemingly trivial. When emotions run high, calm is often needed to stop the situation escalating. That is not something that seems to be taught, or valued in Jamaica. If my sense seems off, please correct me.
So, let me be brief. I have watched the eyes popping open as another news report tells of a man killing a woman, in these days, over a failed relationship. Yet, this is the same society that watches on silent when parent threaten to whip their children in public (for something much less than any crime that is on the books). Our approach to ‘discipline’ is NOT teaching children to know the right thing to do without being told, but it’s the principle of ‘let me beat sense into you’.
One does not need to be a qualified psychologist to understand if, from birth in some cases, brute force and pain have been used to ‘teach lessons’, that the lessons learned are about using brute force and pain. ‘If you cant hear, you must feel!’
It is extremely hard to keep one’s temper in the face of annoyance. Let me not claim to be a saint. Let me cite an incident this morning, during rush hour.
The man driving his van past the two lanes of standstill traffic on his side of the road, waiting for the light to change to green, who decides that driving on MY SIDE of the road is acceptable is someone who disregards others. His reaction to my continuing to drive so that our cars meet, on my side of the road, is to wave his arms at MY ‘unreasonable’ behaviour. I had no where to drive other than the lane assigned to me. He did not want to wait for traffic to clear. He was expecting that I would acquiesce to his demands. He was not going to negotiate with my life. He was the same as the motorcyclist and pillion passenger who were riding on my side of the road, because again, their side was filled with slow traffic. I move to avoid killing them. They were followed by another pair of motorcylists and a cyclist doing the same. Their unwillingness to be patient was going to be the cause of grief, and maybe loss of life. Why?
The minute I picked up my phone, the driver of the van, to whom I made reference swerved to join his line of traffic. But, I am quite reasonable. I did not pull a fire arm, or get out my machete, or pick up a rock and aim it at him or his car. Those reactions are not uncommon in Jamaica.
Don’t get ge wrong! I am not trying to conflate murders with bad road behaviour. But, what I see is a set of people who do not care what they do, so long as it’s what they want to do. Everyone else must accommodate them.
We are not the best people in the world, and I am not going to draw comparisons with other countries. We have our origins and we have the path taken to bring us to where we are.
There are other countries that take an approach similar to ours to ‘discipline’ that do not have the wave of killings we do. That, sorry, is not a justification for what WE do. There are few countries that do not do what we do from childhood that have our rates of killing each other.
We’ve elevated violence to a point where we do not understand what it is, and expect to see it used in moderation when we have done little to ensure that many or any understand that that is an option. We go ‘full bore’. Now, we are getting ‘double barrels’ of us right back in our faces.
What is now showing up as men killing women is another twist in the long-running habit of men killing men. Gangs looking to take each others’ lives are one piece of the problem that also has male partners killing female partners. It’s the same problem that has men killing defenseless children. It’s the same problem that has a women stealing a newborn baby from a hospital. It’s the same problem that has the crowd meteing out ‘justice’ by hacking to death a person accused of a crime. It’s a society that has gone so far off the rails that no one has any idea where it is headed, or how will be run over by the train that seems to be travelling faster. As I said above, we are gripped by an disturbing number of people who want things to be THEIR way and theirs only.
If we have the resources to analyze the many different forms of social disorder that is being displayed we may find that a disturbing number of people are undoubtedly clinically insane. That would be more than worrying. But, we would then have to try to understand how they got into this state. It is something that is not confined to certain classes, though it may look different in many cases and in many places.
If my assessment is wrong, please point me to the evidence that counters it. I am willing to listen and learn. I will not strike you down, if I happen to disagree.