By Devon Dick
ETHON LOWE, with rhetorical flourish stated "So, why are Jamaicans so bloody violent? Is it because of nature or nurture? Both." (The Gleaner March 2, 2013). Wow! What a discovery and what were the other options.
And in arriving at that eureka moment, Lowe states about nature, "a person is to some extent a prisoner of his genes", 50 per cent of his inherent qualities are controlled by his genes, 10 per cent due to life's circumstances and 40 per cent are determined by our thoughts and actions. When I did a Google search there was nothing to support these claims. Lowe cites no source for this information so, obviously, it is the result of his research.
Concerning nurture, he claimed religious beliefs as a contributing factor, stating, "In the USA, low intelligence and poverty are linked to religiosity ... and also to crime.
Persons who affiliate themselves with Christianity make up almost 80 per cent of prison populations." Assuming that these persons became Christians before they entered the prisons and not after, does not mean that Christianity is discredited.
Another weakness of Lowe's article is placing a causal relationship between Jamaicans as a religious people and the high murder rate.
In addition, some persons analyse the prison population and find that most prisoners come from poor socio-economic situations and conclude that poverty is the cause of crime, when there could be other factors explaining why persons who are rich are not in prison. Included in these factors could be that people who are rich are able to afford better lawyers; families having contacts to get the case dropped etc. Furthermore, persons have the habit of concluding that gruesome killings by a family member is a result of poor family life. A person can come from a steady and healthy family environment and still commit murder and suicide. So the home environment or the socio-economic situation may not necessarily be the cause of crime.
Similarly, some Christians tend to build a causal relationship between prayer and healing, taking praise for their prayers as effecting healing, not realising that God could have intended to heal the person before he or she prayed or whether he or she prayed. It is better to give God the glory rather than take the praise.
And even where Lowe was quoting a study he failed to acknowledge other studies to the contrary. So, he dogmatically claims the reason Jamaicans run so fast is because 70 per cent of Jamaican world-class athletes have the ACTN3 gene. However, an article posted on the Genetic Future blog states that "An excessive emphasis on ACTN3 as a major explanation for Jamaican success does a grave disservice to the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors required for top-level athletic performance". (Carib News Review website).
Likewise, understanding Jamaica's high murder rate is very complex and is not helped by simplistic, opinionated and irrational arguments.
PS: Last week's article said Neville McCook received the highest FIFA award but it should have been IAAF award. Thanks to Town Clerk Errol Greene who identified the error.
Rev Dr Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church is St Andrew. He is author of The Cross and Machete; and From Rebellion to Riot. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org