Tue | Dec 6, 2022

Jamaica is on a slippery slope

Published:Wednesday | September 28, 2022 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I try as much as possible to follow events in this the land of my birth, in which I have lived for 80 of my 82 years. It is quite disconcerting to behold as matters unfold these days.

It was never my intention to be an alarmist in any way, but when an alarm is to be sounded, someone should summon the courage and moral fortitude to do so.

I invite readers to note carefully. It should not be difficult to discern that Jamaica is on a (very) slippery slope and has been on that trajectory for some time.

Our approach to crime in this country is medieval and counterproductive. We have hopped from curfews to states of emergency to zones of special operation – all to little or no avail.

As an 11- or 12-year-old attending elementary school in the backwoods of western St Elizabeth, I was taught that three social ills were poverty, illiteracy and crime. Seven decades on, our leaders continue to ignore the significance of that civics lesson. We are engaged, so passionately it would seem, fighting crime. It is much like waiting to ‘fight’ the outbreak of polio in the late 1950s. If vaccines were not developed to inoculate the people from that debilitating disease, the vast majority of the world’s population would be walking today with the aid of some device.

TRANSFIXED ON CRIME

Poverty, illiteracy, and crime – in that order – are the challenges we face in this country. But we are transfixed on just one – crime – while bypassing the causal relationship among the three.

The so-called Zones of Special Operation (ZOSO) must give way to ‘Zones of Special Attention (ZOSA)’. The soldiers must be returned to Up Park Camp, where they belong, until required to assist in disasters, for example, and not be used in futile attempts to clean up calamities occasioned by poor management of the country’s affairs.

Bitterness, anger and frustration of some of those made fatherless by policies of the past will never be addressed by state violence. The new ZOSA will see hoards of community and social workers with pen and notebooks. They will seek to determine how this country in which they are seen and treated as ‘the other Jamaicans’ can finally come to their aid.

Sixty per cent of the National Housing Trust (NHT) funds are employers’ non-refundable contributions. Let’s take 10 per cent (leaving 50 per cent) and target housing and other developments in those communities.

International donors are not in scarce supply, especially when good causes are identified. So, we attack poverty; then illiteracy falls; and the crime we are experiencing, and which terrifies us so much, will have no breeding ground, no hiding place.

Wake up, Jamaica! We are on a slippery slope! Act now! Tomorrow might be too late.

KENNETH BINGHAM