Editorial

Suffer the little children… 'I wish I could hide them'

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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Whatever the excuses — and there is a plethora of them — that we use to explain away the high prevalence of crime in Jamaica, let us not lose sight of the awful impact crime is having on our children.

We wonder if there was anyone who was not heartbroken to hear the words of five-year-old Nachalah Williams, the valedictorian at the graduation exercise of the Mason Hall Basic School in St Mary, as carried in Sunday's edition of this newspaper.

After listing her many accomplishments, the young student was asked about her views on the crime situation in Jamaica. She replied:

“I feel very sad about this crime thing. I don't like to hear when children or anybody get hurt. I wish I could hide them. I wish I could hide all the children before they get hurt if it was possible.”

That coming from the mouth of a five-year-old should cause distress, agony and shame on all Jamaican adults, especially our dithering leaders and officials who prefer to waste time with dramatic speeches amounting to much ado about nothing, while the country burns at its very foundation.

Those moving comments by little Nachalah Williams speak, no doubt, for the helpless ones and should have brought home the distressing fact that our high crime rate and murder tally are reaching all levels of the society. Crime truly is no respecter of persons.

Nachalah has demonstrated her ability to think beyond herself, by extending her concerns for others. This is empathy, which is quite sadly lacking generally.

Interestingly, many educational institutions in North America and elsewhere have included programming in their curriculum that addresses empathy. It is a valuable commodity in an age where it seems increasingly difficult to understand the feelings of another person.

Our children, in particular, are catching hell from those monsters who do not see it as their responsibility to protect the vulnerable.

The recent shooting death in St Elizabeth of a man experiencing mental health challenges exemplifies that Jamaica has a serious problem with empathy.

It is common practice now to see Jamaicans holding up a camera phone to capture someone's distress, acts of brutality, and antisocial tendencies in order to post it on social media, without any sense of empathy.

We tout ourselves to be a decent, God-fearing people, and surely, we can agree that many of us are to a great extent. But from the evidence of the antisocial behaviour depicted on social media, the alarming crime statistics, the immense fear that the majority of Jamaicans have of each other, then it may be true that the positive and wholesome identity we constructed and attached to our Jamaicanness exists only in the past.

It has been brought to ruin, much like the historical relics that are remnants of a past long gone from living memory. We have done a good job of fooling ourselves that we are still wonderful citizens, but the nation's children are seeing our society for what it truly is.

Spare a thought for our children today and let us not forget “…for of such is the kingdom of God”.

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