Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Crime Of Crime

No one truly understands why violent crimes have risen so fast in Caribbean countries. The reasons are not singular. We understand that a part of the core reason is a desire to get richer quicker and that crime seems to pay, at least for some. We know of the drug trafficking connection in Jamaica. We know of the political turf wars there too. We know of the kidnapping and ransoms in Trinidad. We know of the domestic violence that spills blood and takes lives. We know of people who cannot get work and find things to do that idleness permits. We know of youths (not just men) who have become disaffected from the societies in which they live and see nothing wrong with taking a life to correct even petty wrongs. We know of venal policemen and legals systems that do not give justice. We know of fractured families and fractured lives. We know of churches that spend more time and energy getting money from parishioners and filling the pockets of so-called 'men of God' rather than saving any souls or turning around any lives.

Many bay for more police, and heavier sentences, and death penalties. But we know those are not solutions, and even if you had one policeman for every citizen, crime would still exist. Executing every murderer will not stop another killer. We have had centuries of fractured families, even prescribed as the norm for our slave ancestors. So, will 'rebuilding' families mean that much? We have lots many of the social roots that curbed crime, whether it was small communities, or a sense of neighbourliness that meant that no one shielded those who sought to exploit others. Was urbanization the real spark for major problems? Was easier travel the spark? Were images of free and easy looking wealth that was just across the water the spark? All of the above in some measure?

But we are facing different pressures and have not solved how to deal with those and stay on a path that does not encourage villany. Some with plenty insist on having more. For what? Few with much give to thiose with little or none. Few politicians can speak to the concerns of the majority and have little that resounds with the minorities who are the lawless. But more and more one sees people retreating in fear. In the end, people will hope that they can live in communities that have no crime and if they have to be gated and isolated with armed guards at the entrance that that will be. That's the Jamaican way, for sure. Or, some will hope that class and wealth may prove to be the barrier that keeps 'them' away, until 'they' decide that they will strike when they please or wait for times and places where wealth and class do not matter.

But we know of people who live good lives, with richness or without, who respect others and try to guide their own actions and those of their children in directions far from crime. But their efforts do not make others, who are driven by or to crime, to convert. Those who wish to be good cannot get past the barriers of those who wish to be evil. We cannot ship them away. We cannot pen them up away from the rest of us. Every criminal is known and has a protector. Like any social secret the criminal persists because of the facilitators. So, our challenge should be to deal with the facilitators. Each one reach one?

1 comment:

MaxTheITpro said...

"But we know of people who live good lives, with richness or without, who respect others and try to guide their own actions and those of their children in directions far from crime. But their efforts do not make others, who are driven by or to crime, to convert."
=====

I cannot over estimate the importance of making exceptional parenting the norm rather than an odd occurrence.

My mom was the proverbial single mother but she had the support of my amazing Bajan grandparents. While she was chugging away in Canada, my grandparents kept a tight leash on me, but also gave me a lot of love. And they wouldn't hesitate to smack me or put the dog hunter (a leather whip) on my behind if I got out of line, which I deserved.

Yep, times have definitely changed. Kids know the laws and know that the state will come to their rescue if mommy or daddy puts a hand on them. :-)