Caring does not always require cash
As the discussion and debate on the report of the Armadale Enquiry and who is to blame rages on, it should serve to bring into sharp focus the need to address some fundamental issues that plague our society. It seems evident that our juvenile correctional facilities are to some extent factories that produce more and more aggression, hostility and hatred that can lead our youngsters to a life of crime and violence instead of accomplishing the rehabilitation they were supposedly designed to facilitate.
While some sympathise with those who must accept responsibility for the horrendous tragedy of Armadale and the largely unacceptable conditions that prevail in these facilities on the basis of a lack of resources, I would like to dispute a truism that we many of us seem to hold dearly because 'It does not always take cash to care'.
Many successful Jamaicans can testify of the poor circumstances in which they grew up, in large families with very little resources and how they survived in spite of the odds, as they had a parent or some family member who was caring and creative and who was undaunted by the circumstances. This may seem an unfair comparison, but it does make an important point.
Value of care
We have in our society many persons who are trained to understand human behaviour and the value of a caring deed, a kind word, positive communication that affirm a person's dignity and humanity. These cost nothing in dollars and cents, but come from human beings who understand and accept their own value and are gracious enough to extend that sense of worth to another human being created in the image and likeness of God, regardless of what they have done or become in many cases as mere victims of their circumstances.
Does this, therefore, point to the possibility that the persons at all levels of the system who are entrusted with the responsibility of our correctional institutions lack the requisite skills and competencies that would assist them to understand effective rehabilitation and, most important, they lack a heart of compassion and, in fact, suffer from the same emotional and psychological maladies being experienced by those in their care.
They are caught in the inexorable cycle of what I have deemed to be the new motto of the 'bleeding' Jamaican society - 'Hurting people hurt people'. We see this demonstrated at all levels of the society: in the daily struggles of our broken family life, in the questionable actions of the police force whose reputation is now riddled with accusations of brutality, excessive use of force, downright cruelty and corruption. This nation needs healing, healing of the damaged psyche or individual souls with their thinking and emotions warped by neglect, a lack of love and nurture from conception and during childhood.
I call on all well-thinking Jamaicans and the Church, in particular, with its biblical mandate to 'heal the broken-hearted', to rise to the occasion and explore meaningful ways of getting involved with people at all levels of our society, in homes, schools, communities (inner cities in particular) places of safety caring for wards of the State. In the various organs of the State - the political directorate, government agencies, the police force and in every nook and cranny of this nation, let the healing begin.
I am, etc.,
GRACE ANN TAYLOR
Port Maria PO