Over the past two weeks my mailbox has been cluttered with emails denouncing me outright for opposing the death penalty and also for being pro-choice. I’ve been called names I wouldn’t think of repeating here, and I chuckle at the source of a few of them.
Most of all, I have been taken to task by some fervent self-professed Christians, just as mean-spirited as they were before their second birth, who have told me in no uncertain terms, that for all my ramblings about the causes of crime, governmental neglect of the citizens and the making of savages, for all the talk about a lack of leadership, the absence of any clear vision for the country, corruption gone crazy and people breeding like rabbits, I had omitted to name the single most important causative factor in the disturbing descent into madness.
Demons. The country is overrun by demons. Evil spirits are the cause, they say, of the “dog-hearted” killers roaming the streets and striking terror in the hearts of women and children. Men too. “Spiritual wickedness in high places” is tormenting the souls of the people – you know the source is diabolic, they write, when a young high school girl is accidentally shot dead by her own father, and the gunmen didn’t even have to fire a shot.
The theories start with Haitian refugees bringing into the island more virulent and powerful forms of black magic than the home-grown obeah, telling of locals intent on attaining priestly powers, becoming inextricably entangled with these landed (or beached) voodoo practitioners. Yes, I got an eyeful. Psalm 91 was the most quoted chapter in the deluge that engulfed me.
It is tragic that much of the feverish speculating just doesn’t mash with the real reasons why the nation has been in crisis mode for what has seemed like an eternity. The few who make the connection of crime to the conditions that favor it, are unfortunately not part of the government, which seems to have been rendered inert.
A rash of ex-government officials have been strident in their calls for criminals to be hanged. “Hang’em high!” they cry. It is a mark of enduring shame that some of these shouting from the gallery were either powerless to stem crime when they had the power, or actually produced the blueprints for Jamaica’s torrid affair with guns and murder.
The dots are there, staring us straight in the face, and sometimes it seems as if the inability to see and connect them results from some strange virus that has taken over the nation. Demons again.
But at least a few media personalities appear to be uninfected. In her Observer column of November 25, Betty Ann Blaine remarks: “I admit that in some “closer to perfect” societies (countries like Denmark, Sweden, Holland, etc) where family life, education, justice and equal opportunities are guaranteed for all their citizens, there may be an argument for capital punishment if any of their people fall out of line. But in a country like Jamaica where just about everything is wrong from top to bottom, and where the entire social and economic fabric is in ruins and is compromised, including law enforcement and the justice system, I’m hard pressed to understand how hanging can be so nonchalantly advanced.” Eureka.
I say aye, but BAB forgot to mention that in countries like Denmark, Sweden and Holland, people don’t hurl Old Testament bible verses around for a pastime, and many of the churches in these countries are museums. Nation building is serious business and approached with serious consideration and employing strategies with long-term effects.
Not so for us. We sit in silence for years in a society bordering on chaos, and watch while the stage is being set for mayhem, daring naysayers to criticize, and as soon as events reach critical mass, when pot start fi bwile, that’s when we begin yelling and shrieking for change, and Old Testament justice is expected to right the wrongs of decades of neglect and mismanagement, those demons that still possess us. Blood fi blood and fyah fi fyah.
Those shouting “heng dem” couldn’t care less that the justice system is flawed, the constabulary corrupt, and that only the little man will face the hangman’s noose, guilty or not. The blood lust, once a feature of the “criminal” appetite, has now taken on national proportions as even those who profess new birth and tout Christian love have recanted to quench their thirst.
Well, I must tell you, there was a flicker of hope when Ms. Blaine through Hear The Children’s Cry announced the march to protest against the murder of children in our midst, but who tell mi fi be so ordayshus? The march couldn’t stand up to the Reggae Boyz football match at the stadium, and barely 200 persons cared enough to stand in solidarity with the brave organizers for this cause.
Remember when almost 2,000 of the curious converged on Half WayTree to witness an attack on some gays who had to seek shelter in their friendly neighborhood pharmacy? Nuff said. And there is an OT bible verse to back that up too. One prominent churchman had his own recommendation of public flogging with cat o’ nines for the deviants. More violence.
The irony is that Christ’s responses to violence and ill-will as recounted in the bible stands in direct opposition to those of the churchmen on the fringe.
So please, all you who shout hosanna one day a week and heng dem the other six, you who flit capriciously between the old covenant and the new one you claim to be in effect when it suit you, ease up on my mailbox with your threats of divine vengeance and the incendiary use of bible verses. Perhaps the demons that possess us are those of selfishness, ignorance, meanspiritedness and vengeance. And these spiritual leaders gone viral need first to be exorcised before they are in a position to deliver others.
As said countless times, the solution is staring us in the face, right there in BettyAnn Blaine’s observations, but we lack the resolve to apply it.