Recently, two white, American male missionaries were murdered in St. Mary, Jamaica. CNN picked up on the incident and news anchor, Ashleigh Banfield came under fire by “Brand Jamaica apologists” for referring to Jamaica as “extraordinarily violent”.
One broadcast veteran, Fae Ellington, a woman I hold in very high regard, tweeted, “#CNN Jamaica has pockets of violence. We are not generally known to get up with machine guns & walk into schools & theatres & shoot up people.” Quite a strident defense of Jamaica’s ranking on the international perceptions index for most peaceful country in the world!
These pockets of violence that Ms. Ellington refers to are not as insignificant as we think and perhaps we have not begun to uncover the various forms of violence that are expressed in our society through road rage; domestic violence; turf war; sexual violence; trace out match; abuse of children (often disguised as discipline); economic violence (systems of inequity); the cruel and hurtful things we say to each other and a host of other ways we are violent to each other. Violence is pervasive. What we do have pockets of is privilege – a sort of privilege that insulates us from the harsh realities that the majority of Jamaicans face because they have no access to privilege, power, or prestige.
Violence does not just happen through osmosis. It has to be nurtured and facilitated. And I see so many instances in which we facilitate it. It only becomes repugnant when someone outside of Ms. Ellington’s “pockets” is visited by violence. “Oh, this is getting outta hand!” But everyday, the poor endure great violence to little outrage.
Everyday, I go out into the communities in which I work, there is a REALITY that breaks my heart. Neither my project nor myself can/will save everyone. But there are real needs on the ground, much of which is not even material. A kind word or gesture goes a long way and give people, who though their material circumstance might be depressing, a reason to live.We have to, as a society, find our gentler selves. We have to find a way more altruistic way of living. We have to be determined to find alternative ways to transform our conflicts; to discipline our children; offer assistance; to give ear unto the personal turmoils people experience daily…FIGHT APATHY… Put simply, BE KIND to one another or else our indifference will turn around and harm us… We are not as ensconced as we think.
This is what I hope to achieve out of #IAMworthy Movement – to get people to a place of REALIZATION. When we realize our WORTH, we would definitely refuse to act, live, think beneath our value. However, we must begin this revolution with children and youth. We can only build nations by building children. We spend much of our time trying to fix broken adults because we refused to build healthy children. Begging for divine intervention or threatening the resumption of hanging is not a sustainable crime strategy. It is not a response to our extraordinary violence. We are being reactionary! What if we were more proactive? That is what #IAMworthy movement is intended to do through our activities:
~ Mentor (pour our lives into)
~ Meet the needs (material, psychological, spiritual).
We have to become more concerned about our children. We have to help them always to imagine for themselves better and greater than they have been told they can. And we have to give them the tools to properly negotiate this extraordinarily violent (anti-child) society that we have bequeathed them. It is the only way we can rescue Jamaica from the kind of violence for which it has become infamous but more importantly, it is the only way we can engineer for this nation a society where the citizenry will (want to) live, raise families and contribute to nation building. #IAMworthy #IAMcommitted! ARE YOU?