Sunday, May 16, 2010

Say "No more!"

MARK DEFREITAS... how long oh Lord?

This column (excerpts below)was published the day before PM Golding's revelation in Gordon House that he sanctioned the hiring of Manatt Phelps & Phillips regarding the Jamaica-US Extradition Treaty.

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | 10 May 2010

In the midst of our anguish, the good people of this country continue to soldier on. Yes, many of us are "walking wounded", deeply affected by the cruel way our friends and relatives have been snatched from us. Yet good nurses keep nursing, good teachers keep teaching, and decent policemen take the heat for their honesty from corrupt "squaddies".

If it matters to our leaders on both sides, they should know that we know how deftly they built those communities where our fellow Jamaicans may not walk or talk freely. We know and we feel very sorry for anyone who could believe that their fleeting power could be more important than the lives of their Jamaican brothers and sisters. They are now naked on the internet, naked on YouTube and people know that it is not a coincidence of criminality that has brought our beloved Jamaica to her knees. It is a cynical plan to hold on to power, passing from one party to the other every now and then, complicit in each other's cold confidence: "Today for you, tomorrow for me".

Yes, we know there are good politicians on both sides and we are now begging them to stand up and be counted as the ones who declared "No more!" and who will take Jamaica on the path of righteousness that she so dearly longs for.

But let the world know that good Jamaicans have been brought to our knees - not to cower before thugs, but to pray to the awesome God who sees all and sees far. What hapless souls are those, that no longer fear God. In another place, I have written:

Under God's unblinking eye
We all have lived
We all have died
Dust and ash are wealth and glory
Our deeds are our enduring story.

Let the criminals - including the corrupt - know that there are simple, godly people in this country who still sleep well at night, who do honest work and share the little they have without chaining beneficiaries to lifelong obligation.

How precious are our young to us and how poignant was the thanksgiving service for Mark Che deFreitas, son of colleagues Paget and Angie deFreitas. Mark was gunned down last month, never to see his third child, a daughter who was born a few days ago. We listened to some of the finest tributes from friends of this bright, handsome young man, and silently asked ourselves, "Why, Lord?"

The Almighty who gave us free will, must have wept also, as He sees too many of us ignoring the condition of the poor, imprisoned in garrisons, fast developing across the island. In a CVM-TV interview, Dr Henley Morgan referred to our garrisons as "the society's terminal crime affliction". He said we had made the wrong diagnosis about crime, as it was not mainly about the international drug trade. He believes it is all about the "zones of exclusion" in Jamaica.

In a discussion about the pros and cons of publishing our murder figures daily, one inner-city social worker said it could be a negative, because there were communities competing to be "the baddest". He says when schoolboys threaten each other, they are heard to say, "Yuh better watch yuhself - yuh know weh mi come from?"

My friend says that these youngsters actually believe that the more vicious their neighbourhood, the higher their so-called status. This is the spine-chilling pass to which he believes we have come.

I received a note from the tireless Dr Elizabeth Ward of the Violence Prevention Alliance who wants us to market ... Peace. Yes, I agree with her that if the best marketing heads can come together, we could make Peace so glamorous, so attractive, so trendy that it could yet win the day .

We have successfully sold billions in cars, phones, bonds and burgers. Surely, we can sell Peace. Let us package Peace so she will call out to every bright-eyed youngster to embrace her. Let us promote Peace through the dancehalls of Jamaica. Let us position Peace that she will be on the front page, page 2 and primetime news.

In the name of the two five-year-old children so brutally killed in St James and Clarendon, we have to become the harbingers of peace through our guardianship of every child at risk. We hear the relatives and neighbours of little Evan Spencer of Frankfield, Clarendon, describing the cruelty the child had suffered and wonder how they could have allowed him to remain in that dungeon of despair.

We are bewildered by the happenings around the extradition of a "strongman" to the US. However, the faithful among us should know that more situations like this will arise if we do not allow Peace to be strongly branded so it will dominate our landscape. Dr Ward has a plan to involve the churches, we who say we serve a mighty God. If every church actively campaigns for peace, they cannot fail. We want "the peace that surpasseth all understanding" to leave the confines of pulpit and cover our country.

Comments from the Observer website:

Jamaica needs help from the world community i.e., the United Nations. The problem of crime is overwhelming and it is evident that the government cannot handle this problem. Get rid of the Dons and the politicians who support them. Jamaicans in the diaspora are grieving for their home and the innocent people who are brutally murdered. Something needs to be done to stop this bloodsheld !!!!
rag monty
I think it is better for us to fight for peace by declaring war on disorder. Lets start with the garrisons, Tivoli and Arnette first and mow down all others. Arrest those who are incited or somehow find a need to block roads because we get rid of their unlawful heaven. All in all, good people like you and I would say myself and many others want peace. Some of us however, see it as a political ploy to beg for once the target is from the other side, and that is really where the problem lies.
carlos king

Dear Jean,
Keep the torch of peace uplifted high! Jamaica can become a paradise once again, thru divine intervention, for with God all things are possible. The more impossible the situation- the more remarkable the miraculous victory! No one, no political administriation, no politician etc. last forever- only good salvation.

John John
Declaring peace is a novel idea but what about those that have no soul?
If you have a mangoose in your chicken coop declaring peace will not save one single chicken. First you must kill the mongoose, close up the hole, and then you can declare peace for a time.... a limited time.
If the mongoose dig another hole and enter your coop then its time to put peace on the backburner and break out the machette, kerosine and ammunition.
Yu see, peace cannot exist in some theoretical vacuum.
Sometimes the war mongers have to understand pain, deadly pain in order for their cronies to chose the peaceful path.
Neville Silvera
Thanks JL-C!!
That's a great piece to start my week. I too think that packages of peace can be hot items. We all have peace within us. Let us try to give a small piece of our peace to our neighbours; to the people we meet in the violent streets each day; to the child sitting next to us in class; to the unheralded cab driver; to our women-folk; to Waterhouse and Riverton; to Tivoli and to Glendevon. It might sound now like wishful thinking, but so did Columbus' theory that he could get to the East by sailing west. Let us ask the church to be on the front-lines with breastplates of righteousness and the healing sword of the Holy Word. A multi-faith worship service in your community each week will soften the heart of even one potential killer.
But let us not be fooled into thinking that every gunman will happily discard his weapon. Unfortunately, some Philistines will have to face the proverbial "jawbone of an ass".

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