Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Friday | January 2, 2009
Home : Letters
LETTER OF THE DAY - Thinkers have opted for moral surrender

The Editor, Sir:

While it is clear that every Jamaican, except the murderers, has good reasons to be alarmed at the near civil war rate of killings in Jamaica, no useful purpose is served by the recommendation for a ceasefire, or for deployment of soldiers to protect small towns.

Such recommendations do not offer solutions; they simply send the message to Jamaicans at home, and to the world in general, that for lack of meaningful, crime-fighting ideas, the thinkers of Jamaica have opted for moral surrender. They convey the certainty that Jamaica is in a state of civil war. They empower the criminal gangs by leading them to the certainty that gangs have attained the status of leadership equality with the Government, and might be rightfully invited to bargain as legitimate competitors for national control.

Please allow me to remind Jamaica that poverty is not the main reason for the island's crime rate. If that were the case, then countries that are much poorer than Jamaica would have greater crime rates. They do not. The trouble in Jamaica is a critical loss of moral values throughout the society, accompanied by a deafening silence on the parts of the only agency still in custody of such moral standards, namely the Church.

Church leaders transact with more minds than any other agency on the island does, but they focus more on building and enlarging their little empires than they do on building the integrity of tomorrow's Jamaica - the youths. Building the moral base is more than teaching choruses or saying prayers in the schools. The Church should be as actively teaching moral values in the schools as teachers actively teach how to read. Why are the churches' doors closed from Monday to Friday? Is there nothing happening within and of importance to desperate people?

Role of the CHurch and Police

The churches and the police should become the Government's arm for the delivery of social services. Rather than sitting with closed doors until weekends, church leaders should get into the pit where moral degeneracy is being nurtured. Do something for the people, rather than simply fasting, holding campaigns, marches, prayer vigils and political prayer breakfasts. Remember, Jesus preached the gospel, but handed out bread.

In addition, police empowered to issue food stamps and other welfare benefits would have something positive to reply to the needs of the desperate poor, rather than just hoping to have a bigger gun to outman him. Crime is not coming from criminal inborn tendencies. It is coming from the hopeless feeling that nobody is in charge. One bread to the ghetto man whose 10 children have no breakfast can do more than 10 soldiers patrolling his neighbourhood with heavy guns.

Whatever we do, stop blaming the commissioner of police or the army. That sends the message of moral surrender.

I am, etc.,



Ontario, Canada

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