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Is no one safe?

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25.APR.08

Those of us who have had our heads buried in the proverbial sand with regard to the crime situation here had it rudely yanked out on Wednesday evening.

Many of us have managed to maintain a measure of comfort amidst the spate of killings which has overtaken the country in the last couple years, thinking they were not random, but either drug or gang-related or crimes of passion.{{more}}

We, those who walk the straight and narrow, the law-abiding citizens, were therefore safe. We consoled ourselves in the knowledge that it was those ‘gangsters’ and drug dealers alone who were involved. Perhaps if we are honest, we would even admit that the thought has crossed our minds that “they” would one day wipe out each other and leave us peaceful folk alone.

But when a retired public servant, a pillar of the society, a woman in her seventies who has given yeoman service in the development of this country, is found in a shallow grave, we have to ask: What is happening in this country? Is no one safe?

But, then, will this latest killing be just a nine-day talk? How conveniently soon we forgot about Stacey Wilson, who was so brutally and publicly beheaded at the bus terminal. What about the two Shallow sisters who were shot by their father in Sandy Bay? Weren’t they, too, innocent? It is almost as if as a society we have become desensitized and detached. What about Lokeisha Nanton, whose name is now forever etched in our collective memory, and Bertie Browne, who was also savagely beheaded in the Marriaqua Valley? Life indeed must go on and we have always been persuaded not to dwell “in the past”, but two points of view have become too glaring to ignore.

The first and most obvious is that the increase in crime, irrespective of what any “official” statistics may say, is matched now only by a growing depravity and disregard for human life. The second is that the average citizen cannot and does not feel safe on the streets or in his home anymore.

With these issues in mind, it appears that the average citizen finds safety in forgetting. There is a glaring lack of public discourse on how to combat this scourge, a lack of meaningful discussion on how to move forward with a plan to take back our streets and neighbourhoods. Instead, we are fed a daily diet of salacious tit-bits and a virtual torrent of abuse and counter-abuse on our radio call-in shows.

The point is that if we train ourselves to no longer feel outraged about crime, to no longer assess ourselves as a ‘law abiding nation’, if we choose not to acknowledge the problem for what it is, we risk the implosion of our society. The criminals will win because we have chosen to forget.

It’s time to take our heads permanently out of the sands.

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