Wed | Aug 5, 2020

Garth Rattray | We need everyday heroes

Published:Monday | October 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Some think heroes are confined to our police, soldiers or firemen and women who literally save lives in the normal course of their duties.

The government tried to reduce our runaway crime and murder rate by introducing unusual anti-crime measures: the zones of special operations (ZOSOs) and (localised) states of public emergency (SOEs). An integral part of ZOSO was social intervention, in order to establish some degree of sustained crime reduction without crime-suppression tactics.

These were desperation moves that several people thought were destined to fail; however, initially, they reduced crime. But crime, like pathologic entities, has a way of rapidly adapting, some may say ‘mutating’. Consequently, we saw occasional crime and even murders committed right under the noses of the security forces ‘occupying’ several communities. And now, we appear to be having a therapeutic failure.

Crime is so multifactorial and multifaceted that no quick and simple solution exists. It must be tackled from all angles and will require the involvement of the citizenry. The security forces alone cannot suppress crime efficiently unless there is a full-scale, island-wide, all-out and indefinite state of emergency. However, since that won’t happen, we must seek other solutions. Our current social dynamic does not lend itself to the emergence of a single national hero comparable to Bogle, Bustamante, Garvey, Gordon, Nanny, Sharpe or Norman Manley. What we need are heroic deeds from the everyday citizens to slowly turn this country around.

Most people believe that a hero has to be larger than life; someone who puts his or her life on the line to save others from demise, or someone whose sacrifice changes the course of individuals, families, communities and/or the nation. Heroes are thought of as the kind of people who rush into burning buildings to save others, or are brave enough to leap in front of a knife or a gun. Some think heroes are confined to our police, soldiers or firemen and women who literally save lives in the normal course of their duties. However, a hero can be someone who quietly and unceremoniously demonstrates the courage to do the right thing, act responsibly, inspire others, or do something noble.


Jamaica already has seven national heroes, people who have “rendered service of the most distinguished nature to Jamaica”. What we need now are people like you and me who will, by our actions and examples, change the social habits of our people for the better. From my observations, our country is on a very slippery path to chaos and ruin. Law and order have become inconveniences that many try to get around or overcome. Rules and regulations are being totally ignored by a growing number of our citizenry. Corruption is a common thread throughout our society. Indiscipline has usurped orderliness. This is the perfect medium in which crime flourishes.

In spite of our huge economic and environmental challenges, I believe that our mannerisms and behaviour are the major problems that threaten our future. No nation can survive, thrive or grow with the selfishness, indiscipline, disrespect, callousness, aggression, and violence that are so evident throughout today’s society. Such things have become so commonplace that those who do the right things in the right way, and show concern for others, are made out to be oddballs.

Fathers who play a major role in their children’s lives are our heroes. People who participate in community-building activities are our heroes. Providing the good examples of patriotism, respectfulness, honesty, honour, discipline, decorum and responsible behaviour is heroic. Those who have nothing to do with corruption are heroic. Surreptitiously providing ‘intelligence’ to the authorities in order to stamp out crime is indeed heroic. These are the citizens whose actions will bring about a reduction in crime and violence. We need many more of them. These are the everyday heroes who will save our nation.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and