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Another horrendous act

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The death of Simonia DaSilva of Fairhall on Sunday evening will simply be recorded as the 24th murder of the year. But it is much more. It represents another dimension to the killings we have been experiencing. 

The teenage ‘gang’ that allegedly perpetrated that dastardly criminal act was reportedly largely made up of young girls who made no effort to hide what they were doing.  In fact, it was done in full view of members of Simonia’s family, who were prevented from rescuing her by a barrage of bottles. It appears that three young ladies associated with the gang were subsequently taken to court, charged with murder. This was not just another killing, as we have apparently grown accustomed to.

I was taken in by a piece on Facebook by Kimya Glasgow that appeared to be a reaction to that killing. She saw it as a new level of barbarism and decries the absence of conflict resolution among a people who are angry and prepared to lash out on all levels. The evil, she argues, comes not only from within, but from importing the worst elements of other societies with their gang and crime culture. These, she declares, find fertile grounds among minds that have no anchor, “in spirits that consider church doctrine to be a joke and where values and morals have no influence.” In fact, “manners and decency are seen as old-fashioned and fading…”

Our society, she feels, ignores art and expression and “underestimates the impact of the creation of beautiful things”, that are seen only from the aspect of income generation. She reminds us that “creative pursuits also become an outlet and language for emotions…it is a space to face the demons within oneself. Some people are choked up and clogged up with emotions that they cannot name… and can anyone deny … that being surrounded by crap and garbage, as opposed to being surrounded by beauty and nature makes a difference that often goes unacknowledged.”

I referred extensively to Kimya’s piece because our reaction to the spate of violence and crimes is usually to call for greater police presence and to focus on ‘hanging’. The mindset that led that gang of young people to take that despicable action goes beyond that. It is almost as if it is in their DNA. What worries me is that we seem to have now accepted this behaviour as a norm, something over which we have no control. But the situation is serious. Whatever you might think of the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Spiritual and Redemption Charter, it is obvious that while we seek short-term solutions, we must look at long-term factors that have emerged from a society that has lost its way, that lacks role models and where corruption, social injustice and anger reign supreme. Do we have anger management programmes in school? Do we think of conflict resolution? One of our gross mistakes is to continue to underestimate the impact of our ill-discipline on our growing social ills. Things have not gone beyond our control, but someone or somebody must take leadership on this issue, for it is likely to continue to manifest itself in even more gruesome ways. I read recently the text of a sermon delivered by DJ Reece, a priest in Jamaica. He was of the view that Jamaica was on to a process of dehumanization that would deprive the citizens “of the essential characteristics of our humanity: to laugh, to love, to trust, to hope, to believe, to care, to caress, and to lend a helping hand to those in need.” He could well have been speaking to Vincentians, within whom anger boils incessantly.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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