Ms Cheryl Cunningham gives us hope

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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Ms Cheryl Cunningham's horrific ordeal reported in this week's Sunday Observer highlights two sharply contrasting characteristics of human nature — evil and good.

Her story is also a sobering reminder that even as this country celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence and the positive spin-offs of that milestone, we still face the challenge of violent crime — that scourge that, probably more than anything else, has inhibited our further growth and development.

Ms Cunningham — who was mistakenly believed to have been intimately involved with a man — was the target of that man's lover who arranged with two men to have her killed.

Essentially, the men got Ms Cunningham into a car, took her to a St James community that apparently was not heavily populated, stabbed her in her neck, slashed her throat, then chopped her in her head and on other parts of her body. Thinking that she was dead, the savages left her on the ground.

The sequence of events that followed was nothing short of miraculous. Ms Cunningham, in-between losing consciousness a number of times, eventually got help from residents of the community who took her to the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

"It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I kept asking questions, like, what have I done, why this thing happened to me, because all my life I've tried to do good and be good to people, and tried to help out any way that I could," our story quoted Ms Cunningham.

The terror and pain she endured was obviously tremendous. That much is clear in her revelation that for a long while she could not sleep, because each time she closed her eyes she relived the ordeal.

That ordeal, as we said, is a stark reminder that there exists among us evil people who are hell-bent on continuing to nurture the seeds of murder and mayhem that have long been planted and taken strong root in this country.

While we acknowledge that much is being done by the constabulary to combat this problem, we believe that more needs to be done. But, as we have always maintained in these columns, fighting crime can't be a job for the police force only. Citizens, civil society groups and, most important, our two major political parties that wield considerable influence, must give the police information and support in this national effort.

And as we do so, we all must play our part in creating a gentler society, one in which people are quick to forgive, are tolerant of opposing views, and respect each person's right to life.

As such, we commend to the country the humanity displayed by Ms Cunningham as she gave God thanks for keeping her alive. She prayed, she told us, for the woman who orchestrated the attack on her, hoping that she would repent.

Ms Cunningham also had kind words for a man who heard her cries for help but never responded from the safety of his house, simply because a cousin of his was shot dead while trying to assist a woman who pretended that she was attacked.

"I understand why he did not come out," she said.

Getting the country past that kind of fear won't be easy. However, it needs to be done, and people like Ms Cunningham give us hope that it can be done.




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