THE EDITOR, Sir:
Martin Henry's column 'Divine intervention for crime reduction', appearing in The Sunday Gleaner, August 1, 2013, provides an all-too-common window into the sloppiness that typically drives theological 'reasoning'. In this case, Henry challenges a blogger by mischaracterising him as "hot and ignorant" for merely stating the truth:
"... Show or tell me one country anywhere where crime was reduced through divine intervention and I can show you large cities that reduced or eliminated crime by designing and implementing a comprehensive crime-reduction plan."
Henry's entire argument boils down to the assertion that the crime reduction that he imagines to have taken place in a few cherry-picked areas was entirely caused by divine intervention. He offers no proof, and even if we were to accept his claim of a reduction, there is no attempt to rule out earthly factors, not even to show that crime fell only in revival areas.
And, just in case anyone is wondering why, with all the devotion we have in Jamaica, we have only seen crime rates rise, Henry has a ready explanation. He posits this is because we are short on "goodliness", which he believes to be more important than "churchliness".
The problem is that goodliness introduces a vague, immeasurable quality which most critical thinkers would see as a cop-out, a mere ploy to explain away cases such as ours, where piety fails to deliver. In other words, goodliness allows Henry to always claim we are deficient if our crime rate remains at current levels.
However, with all its cleverness, goodliness still falls short in the context of the broader reality. Why, for example, do we have less apparent goodliness, and with it, a much higher crime rate than, say, Scandinavia, where less than 20 per cent of the population admits to a belief in God?
By now, it should be clear that this reasoning, tying goodliness to divine intervention and crime reduction, is too sloppy to be useful. Most critical thinkers would see it as vacuous, contributing precisely nothing to aid our understanding of crime, or our formulation of an actionable response.
The blogger that Henry criticises is right all along. The only way to deal effectively with crime is by designing and implementing a comprehensive crime-reduction plan. Reliance on divine intervention is at best a sideshow, a pointless distraction, which we can ill afford at this critical time in our development.
PATRICK E. WHITE