Lucien Jones | Only God can rescue Jamaica
In one of the most dramatic front-page stories last week, The Gleaner stirred the conscience of a beleaguered nation. Deeply! Or so I hope.
A nation "in a state of anarchy", as described in the accompanying and very sharp editorial. A nation in which almost 10,000 precious lives, made in the image and likeness of God, were lost on account of homicide over the past seven years.
And The Gleaner editorial continued:
"Things can't continue like this if Jamaicans hope to live in a civilised society and the Government doesn't intend to compete for its legitimacy with criminal warlords. Instituting a turnaround will be difficult, but, with the appropriate effort and some help, it can be done."
Not so public, but yet equally dramatic, was an observation shared by a principal of an inner-city school, during a major road-safety policy forum this week: "buses from hell".
This, as she describes the lived experience of citizens who 'banned', and threw stones at them if they dared to return, certain buses from entering their community, on account of the reckless driving of the drivers.
Clearly, a metaphor for, and dramatic example of, what, in the eyes of many exasperated citizens, is the kind of anarchy that exists on our roads. With taxis and Coaster buses making a 'third lane', or mounting the sidewalk. Regularly!
And so the very same point that The Gleaner editorial made, in respect of homicide, can equally be applied to the behaviour on our roads; things cannot continue like this if we hope to live in a civilised society.
This week also, I had a very intriguing conversation with a good friend. A woman who has been in the 'trenches' for years, making a yeoman's (somehow that doesn't sound right) contribution to national development by working with the poor and marginalised youth in inner-city communities; and leading a major civil-society group. A national honour is overdue!
To cut a long story short, I was busily denouncing the wicked gunmen responsible for The Gleaner headlines as 'dog-hearted' - a term reserved in Jamaican parlance for one who is almost 'without any soul' and just totally evil, killing without any remorse; and, by implication, though not my thoughts, irredeemable.
She urged caution, as it was her view that their circumstances had, in some way, contributed to their evil behaviour. And I, the Christian one, was unrepentant and unimpressed with her arguments, having worked in the inner city, on behalf of my church, for most of my professional life. On this note of agreeing to disagree on this point, we parted amicably. As always! Such is my respect for the work she does
Reflections, aided and abetted by my conversation with my friend, and now a 'conversation', with my God, caused me to pause and reconsider my role as a road-safety official in my country; and, therefore, in some way responsible for dealing with the anarchy on the roads.
To reconsider my role as a family physician working in a rural setting, and in an inner city. To reconsider my privileged position as one who has access to power ( political and in the private sector) in my country.
But more important, one who by grace, and by faith, has unlimited access to the Almighty God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in and through the blood of the Lamb of God. Jesus Christ, the crucified One!
And so in all spheres of life, I am called to be God's agent of reconciliation. Even to the 'dog-hearted' criminals and the drivers of 'the buses from hell'. Me and all my brothers and sisters in Christ - the Church.
For then, and only then, will Jamaica, a land of 'anarchy', in the communities and on the roads, find peace and be reconciled to a loving Creator God.
- Lucien Jones is vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council.