Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Garth Rattray | New year, same old problems

Published:Monday | January 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Time seems to be flying by faster and faster every year. It's a pity that our problems won't fly away with the passing years. Instead, they seem to be gaining strength as we record, analyse and bemoan our sad fate. Our biggest problem remains our runaway murder rate. I stopped keeping count long ago; it's too depressing.

I'm not into directly laying the blame for our predicament at the feet of our current crop of politicians. However, I hold fast to the belief that it's our political system that introduced fractiousness, acrimonious rivalry, dependency, oppressive disenfranchisement, hate, the disrespect for life, a taste for blood, and the guns to kill at will.

Our planned interventions for squelching crime, and especially murders, are sound but will take time to become effective and bear fruit. The police force is constrained by fiscal paucities, hampered by a small but infectious cadre of rotten apples, and by the rules of engagement to which they are required to adhere.

Unless partially hybridised with the constabulary, the military assistance will remain limited and purely supportive. Leashed by the respect for the rights of our citizens, the security forces cannot go full force into our communities and suppress criminality without the declaration of a wide-scale state of emergency or martial law. The consequences of both will be devastating to our economy.

And so, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, vicious criminals cowardly stand behind loaded guns and unconscionably squeeze triggers to unleash terror, suffering and death on the unborn, newborn, innocent children, men, women, the elderly, the infirm, the handicapped, their prey, and their enemies, family and friends of their prey, people in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only people standing between them and is the police.

Some modern-day leaders have apologised for the sins of their forefathers. I can't imagine our politicians apologising for the sins of their predecessors and for the resultant, ongoing wholesale slaughter of our citizens. However, I believe that they should adopt a more hands-on, apolitical approach to stem the tidal wave of blood that floods our streets, destroys hearts and drowns patriotism.

 

PEACE AND LOVE CAMPAIGN

 

I truly believe that our politicians ought to embark on peace and love campaigns. In the same way that they walk the streets of their constituencies while electioneering, they should walk the streets together under the banner of peace and love. They drive through their constituencies with throngs of followers in tow, music and loudspeakers blaring; they should do the same for peace and love.

This should not be done under the People's National Party (PNP) or under the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) flag or any other political flag; it should be done under a new and united flag designed to represent our colourful and diverse society.

There should be no colour representing any political party, extreme care should be taken to wear neutral colours. There should be no political point-scoring, the campaigns should be advertised as such and, instead of political pamphlets being left within the communities, pamphlets explaining where to get help to find assistance and jobs should be distributed.

Communities are currently being targeted for possible zone of special operations intervention. However, we need to target communities by providing positive incentives and/or reinforcement with celebratory events, donations and job opportunities - all could be co-sponsored by private-sector contributions.

From personal experience, I have found that a surprising number of private citizens and companies are very willing to donate time, effort and money for good causes; whether they are police facilities, schools or community uplift programmes. There will always be the minority that gripe about having to pay taxes and then turn around and contribute to things that fall under the responsibility of the Government. However, most realise that there are many people in need of assistance and the Government can't stretch our tax dollars that far.

We need to uplift our citizens. It seems as if the Government is only interested in us if we commit a crime, when it's time to vote, and when we need to pay taxes. We need more positives in Jamaica, negatives beget negatives. We desperately need to change the mindset of our citizens.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gkeanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.