Release them! Pastor urges persons to address wrongdoers in the family
Why didn't I take their advice?
If I did, I would be living in style
God knows I wasn't born to be wild
An' now me gone a Up Park Camp
Me neva waan go a Up Park Camp
- John Holt 'Up Park Camp'
The escalation of crime and criminal activities in the society has many calling for divine intervention. But for others, the solution lies in family members getting more involved with those who seek solace on the home front. However, it is not an easy task asking family to break that bond by turning their loved ones over to the 'long arm of the law'.
Family and Religion reached out to Dr Melieth Donald Tomlinson a trained psychologist and pastor at the Lighthouse Assembly in Spanish Town, St Catherine, who said that when it comes to family members, there would naturally be an attachment.
"Sometimes love doesn't always mean that what you are going to do is going to be easy," she said. But at the end of the day, she said that the 'bigger picture' should be looked at.
"He could come out better or come to a point in realising that there are consequences to your actions. If it is you who want a turn around, there are institutions that persons can be placed in, depending on the nature of the wrongdoing," she said.
According to Tomlinson, not getting involved in their lives and turning a blind eye to their wrongdoing can see their actions becoming worse and the activities perpetuating.
"If a person is doing something wrong, try to reach out. You can go to them. Even if you don't turn them in, they can be killed. Reach out because when there is evil around, it exposes everyone whether you are family or not," she said.
Tomlinson said, however, that the system needs to be changed from the 'turn in' mentality as it puts a negative connotation on reaching out to help.
"Because we say we are turning them in, it sounds negative. People look at it differently. We should find better ways to help than 'turning in'," she pointed out.
Citing many instances where criminals have served time in the penal system, went through remedial actions and actually turned out better, making valuable contributions to the society, she said it is important to put better care in reaching out.
According to her, most persons did not 'wake up overnight' and decided they wanted to be involved in crime.
"We need that window to break through and redirect that energy. Some are angry at society and it's how we try to break that anger and let them know we love them," she said.
In encouraging family members to do the right thing, she said they should exercise caution.
Stressing her disagreement in 'setting the family member up', Tomlinson said what should be done instead, is having a talk with them. If they are wanted by the law, then encourage them to turn themselves in.
"If you know they have a gun, you want to exercise caution. The police have their own responsibility, you are just doing your part as a family member. Sometimes they just need to be managed," she said.
In approaching them, Tomlinson said it should be done with love. For her, you should share the consequences of their refusal to put a stop to their wrongdoings, and if that person refuses, the next action will not be a surprise as they were warned.
With that broken, it might prove a task to mend or being restored, but for her, family members have to realise that the first person they have to live with themselves.
"So if you don't help them to go in (to the police) one way, they will go in another way," she said.
Speaking as pastor, Tomlinson said the power of prayer should never be overlooked.
"A lot of lives have been transformed by persistent prayers. Believe it or not, it still works," she said.