USING THE gruesome slaying of an ambitious teenage girl as an example, violence-prevention activist Andre Blake Marriott on Tuesday suggested that the nation pause to consider how many 'Usain Bolts', 'Marcus Garveys' and 'Louise Bennett-Coverleys' are being lost each year to violence.
"Their names mean nothing to us, their faces just another ... but that is because so many of our people never get the chance to create world records, fight global bigotry or pioneer our culture into realms unimaginable," said Blake Marriott.
His comments during the media launch of the annual 'Race for Peace' initiative put on by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) came against the backdrop of the brutal slaying of 18-year-old Amelia Pitterson at her home in Gregory Park, St Catherine, in April.
Future prime minister
Pitterson was found in her one-room home with her throat slashed and multiple stab wounds.
At the time of her death, she was employed to the Bank of Jamaica and relatives say she was determined to move her family out of the home they shared in the squatter settlement known as 'Train Line' in St Catherine.
"Perhaps she would have grown up to be a civil servant, perhaps a manager, perhaps a doctor, perhaps a future prime minister," said Blake Marriott.
"I precursor each possibility with the word 'perhaps', because, like in the cases of many others, we will never know," he added.
Blake Marriott, who is a third-year law student at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, said he could relate to Pitterson's story having lived his early childhood in the volatile St Andrew community of Jones Town.
He recounted how, as a teenager, he was offered a gun and told 'mi life ago set, mi naa fi worry bout nutten.'
He admitted that, for a split second, the offer was "thought-worthy", but credits the stable family support he had and the morals they instilled in him with helping him to resist the offer.
"This is real ... our young men are being preyed upon for gang membership like lambs to the slaughter," he said.
"We must get them engaged, we must join the mission for peace," Blake Marriott insisted.
VPA chairman Dr Elizabeth Ward, responding to questions about the numerous peace initiatives across several inner-city communities, said it was not the case that the message of peace was not gaining traction.
"I would say it is not getting any attention," she said.
Patricia Sutherland, who represented the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill, challenged the media to highlight some of the positive developments in these communities.
"What we feed will grow, and we are feeding violence in our country. If we stop feeding the violence, then we can feed the peace and it will grow," Sutherland said.
The 'Race for Peace' is scheduled to take place at the university field on September 21.