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Landslides start from a single shifting stone

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Everything starts with discipline. How we interact with neighbours, friends, strangers. How we fraternise with our colleagues at work, and how we love our partners. All this begins with discipline.

When discipline in any society disintegrates, all hell breaks loose, and ill discipline becomes the order of the day. I accept the definition of ill discipline as a person behaving badly and showing a lack of control. Small acts of personal ill discipline often morph into major issues such as the non-reporting of crime and the rejection of the message that one should be their brother's keeper and the keeper of their brother's family as well.

Suddenly, the ill-disciplined man sees and condones murder, rape or incest by not reporting it to the police. The ill-disciplined woman upholds the carnal abuse of her daughter by her new man because he gives her a 'ting' every Friday. The same woman rationalises that in any event, her daughter a 'tek' man a road anyway, so nothing is wrong with her helping to create a happy home for the guy who's effectively providing bread for the household.

The ill-disciplined teenager ignores the counsel of her parents or guardians. Foolishly, ill discipline motivates her to want to get pregnant and drop out of school so she can spite them for always lecturing her on what to do with her body and who to keep as friends. The same ill discipline convinces her to run away from home to another parish to shack up with an older man.

This, as she knows that her parents will worry about her and may regret being too strict on her inside the home. Her aim is to make them wish they had allowed her more leeway and to accept her arguments that despite her being under 16, she had a point when she said she should be allowed to live her own life. The folly of this kind of thinking is manifest when the said teenager turns up dead after being sexually assaulted by her predator.


response to child murders


Society, which doesn't know the real story, then leaps at the chance to condemn the parents, labelling them as careless before blaming them for failing to do their job properly and provide a loving home for the child.

In this moment, the parents feel deep regret and perhaps the ill-disciplined child wins in death, because she gets to inflict some of the pain that she believes she endured when the parents were trying to teach her right from wrong.

It may seem trite, but the simple things we do each day demonstrate our ill discipline as a society. A man will be driving in his car in St Andrew, pull over at the bus stop at the intersection of Arthur Wint Drive and Tom Redcam Avenue, exit the car, whip out his dong and piss in full view of passing motorists. In his mind, he's doing nothing wrong, as he's only answering nature's call. So, since he doesn't know right from wrong, how can he even attempt to discipline a child? How can he be relied upon to act as a good citizen and know that good citizens report crimes?

Take the example of the schoolgirl, clad in uniform, who was found in the mid-1990s straddling a schoolboy inside a restroom at the Spanish Town Shopping Centre. When confronted by an alert guard, the teen barely broke rhythm as she cocked her head to one side and told the guard, "It's OK, he's wearing a condom."

In her mind, nothing was wrong with being caught having sex in her school uniform, inside a public toilet. She thought it critical to underscore the harmless nature of the encounter by stating, for the record, that the boy was unlikely to impregnate her. A classic case of ill discipline and foolish boiled together and served as a dish of tragedy.

We've turned a corner as a society, leaving behind decency and good discipline. And as we leave those things behind, the killing of children, women and the elderly will become the established order. And this new path on which we trod is paved with the cobblestones of ill discipline.


- George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to and