THE EDITOR, Sir:
Every eight hours, some-one is murdered in Jamaica. Our grim reality is more than 1,000 homicides annually for the past two decades. Have we accepted, adapted, and become comfortable with our high murder rate?
Murders, rapes, and robberies have become so commonplace that they result only in occasional or seasonal outrage in the society. This occasional outrage and vocal calls for effective actions by the authorities to curtail the crime problem, generally, only occur whenever there is an upsurge in crime - when these crimes are committed in the most brazen manner, or against certain individuals, which makes people feel less secure and uncomfortable.
Every murder is regrettable and there should be no attempt to reduce lives lost to mere statistics. But statistics do inform and can guide us to action. With more than 1,000 homicides annually, this is an average of 20 persons being killed weekly. This is the norm in Jamaica. The irony, however, is that an outcry against crime will occur if the number increases dramatically for any period under observation, whether it is for a week or month, although the crime rate may generally be at the same level.
People generally feel threatened and react sharply to sudden changes, extreme situations, or anything that disrupts or disturbs their comfort zones. But we have become somewhat comfortable with murders, and therein lies our real problem.
One of the possible reasons for this is that the painful scars from these killings are borne by families and friends of the victims deep within their hearts. Scars make us uncomfortable; but there is no constant reminder of the anguish many persons are experiencing because we usually only see those moments of agony in the immediate aftermath of a murder when a body is discovered or at funerals.
It is important to note that a large percentage of murders committed annually result from domestic disputes. But the criminals are on the offensive and gruesome murders have been occurring so frequently that unfortunately, we have become less sensitive, somewhat numb to, or maybe comfortable enough to retreat and barricade behind grilles, gated communities, electronic and private security in the belief or hope that we won't become victims and number among the deadly statistics. But who knows?
Well, let the wishing continue! I am wishing all Jamaicans a peaceful, productive, prosperous, and an especially safe new year.