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No peace without justice

It is tragic how some people’s calls for “order” and “peace” and “respect” have nothing at all to do with any demand that justice should be established and prevail. Some even go so far as to actually portray demands for justice as obstacles to peace and harmony!

It is a short-sightedness which simplistically equates “peace” with an absence of open conflict – history has proven, time and time again, that such a concept will always have tragic consequences. Peace and justice are mutually reinforcing – you simply cannot have one without the other. The quicker people appreciate this is the better for this country.

From time immemorial words like “peace”, “order”, “respect” have been abused and exploited to thwart and condemn those who stand up against injustice; to keep those “uppity” ones among us who would protest injustice, “in their place”. They are put down as “disgraceful displays” – but, then, so too were the demonstrations, the boycotts, the lunch-counter sit-ins organised by Martin Luther King Jr labelled.

Even though it is an old ploy, apparently it still has some currency as can be seen in the reaction of Sharon McAllister [“A disgraceful display”, page 21, Barbados Today of 11/12/12] and many others who tirade in the same vein.

But there should be no mistake: there will never be any true enduring peace anywhere until there is justice. Unless and until justice “rolls down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”, any possibility of peace at the Alexandra School will remain but a “fleeting illusion” never to be attained.

I can sympathise with McAllister’s anxiety. Her son, she says, is a fourth form student at the school who sees the principal (a man found by a legal, official commission of Enquiry to be a manipulator of students) as a father figure and the “best principal in the world”!

This is an understandable, child-like claim that, of course, was not supported by any evidence whatsoever — if it ever could be. But all adults accept that children are like this — full of gushing superlatives for something they like at the very moment. However, to present it to establish a fact is, well, childish.

Come on, authorities! Behave responsibly. Let us have some decisive action on the Alexandra School issue which continues to simmer. What are you waiting for? A tragic explosion?

— Lionel James

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