Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Letter of the Day | Jamaican anger, violence the result of hurt

Published:Tuesday | January 2, 2018 | 12:45 AM


I believe that Jamaica's horrific and apparently pathological murder rate is caused by a lot of anger in the society.

I am not a professional psychologist but I have had some exposure to this discipline, and I know about its origins in philosophy, as well as the fact that both disciplines still share many interests, including the study of the emotions. I have a strong interest in both the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of underdevelopment.

Some psychologists believe that there are only four basic emotions: fear, anger, sadness and joy. Fear is a response to hurt or the threat of it, and we respond to it by fleeing (including to a foreign embassy for a visa), or we retaliate in anger, sometimes violently. So anger is said to be a secondary emotion caused by fear.

Jamaica is a country that is hurting many of its citizens very deeply. So I think there are three important questions to be asked. First, who are the persons who are being so deeply hurt by this society? Second, what are the characteristics of the society that are causing so much hurt? And third, what can be done to reduce this hurt that is so deep and wide it has turned the country into one of the most murderous in the world?

If these questions are answered, the country can then move on to the therapeutic and healing process of forgiveness which, historians of ideas say, was first advocated by Jesus of Nazareth, a great and wise moral leader whose views, sadly,  seem to be more revered than followed.

Knowledge and forgiveness can lead to joy, which the psychologists say is the most positive of the emotions, the one which contains all the forms of human satisfaction.
I wish Jamaica and the world more joy in 2018.

Earl McKenzie

Former lecturer in philosophy
UWI, Mona.