Little comfort in low tally numbers
Murderers are not monsters; they are men. And that is the most frightening thing about them.
–– Alice Sebold, American author.
For Barbados we might add “they are young men”; and their gunplay is not only most frightening, but it would have many of us glued to our homes at night, terror-stricken.
As we have advocated before, in our societal implementation of a solution to this spate of gun violence, we need to be collected, never panicking. And we daresay Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith would have grounded his presentation to the Press today in this principle.
Acting Commissioner Griffith sought to inform us, in a nigh dispassionate manner, that crime wasn’t altogether on the rise, as the powers that be and the population at large were inclined to believe.
Thefts, he said were at 104 to date, compared with 99 for the same period last year; burglaries 953, compared with 960, though aggravated burglaries were 46 against 47; robberies 196, compared with 178. And firearm crimes to date were 134, compared with 128 for 2014, notwithstanding that murders now stand at 17, compared with 19 for the same period last year.
It would be the last two statistics seemingly that would inspire Mr Griffith to advise us: “The public currently apprehends a heightened fear of gun-related crimes. Statistics show to date that we have 134 cases of firearm-related crimes as opposed to 128 from the previous year –– an increase of six, which is not really catastrophic. This is not really a catastrophic increase.”
We aver that it is, especially when we take into account the Acting Commissioner’s own admission of “a distinct spike in gun activity” in quite recent weeks.
All murder is disastrous, ruinous and profoundly lamentable. No number –– whether 19, 17 or seven –– is acceptable or remotely comforting.
Every murder is the armed robbery of the most precious gift that God has given man –– life –– which, ironically, when senselessly taken is of no use to the perpetrator. And as Roman Catholic priest Father Clement Paul has pointed out, every person slaughtered is the demise of a human being who cannot be replaced. We thus reinforce the point any number of murders, however low, are catastrophic, Mr Acting Commissioner! But we are with you on the collaborative effort that is required of the powers that be, the community and the police on stemming the increasing influx of high-powered firearms into this country.
That the Acting Commissioner of Police can publicly state his concern about these guns making their way through legitimate points of entry –– possibly assisted by officials or mysteriously eluding them –– is admittedly troubling. And we must be careful in not giving the perpetrators confidence by promulgating the notion that this was always the case.
It would be tantamount to the feeble attempt at concretizing the well touted myth that violence in schools today has been no more vicious and prevalent than it was 40 or more years ago. It would not be inappropriate to conclude that much of the violence –– the gunplay included –– comes by the hands of graduating school bullies who have honed the practice of inconsiderateness and disregard for life.
While we were influenced to accept the school might be “a microcosm” of the wider community, with its aberrant behaviours; we cannot help but consider the converse today: that the society is a consequence of not bending the twig into proper shape during school days, but instead allowing it to grow into a hardened and well barked trunk rooted in mayhem and destruction.
Solomon, reputedly the wisest man ever on earth, admonished us that we should “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”. (Proverbs 22:6.)
The state will certainly have a more urgent remedial and preventative role to play in the reconditioning of the minds of our young men and women, and the sure nurturing of our school students. Its alleged role of preparing our children for the world of work is secondary to sharpening their minds to civility, comity, propriety and humanity.
If our leaders continue to keep their heads –– brains and all –– buried in the sand, we are going to be in for the long haul with this youthful belligerence, contentiousness and, lamentably, bloodshed.
We reiterate one death in this land of Barbados is one too many! Most of us are alive because we recognize it is immoral and illegal to murder. Never must we take comfort in the statistics: that we do not reach the heights of some of our regional neighbours.
We could become slaves to keeping up statistical appearances, imagining what we would love to see occur as already having happened.
Let’s remember: not a single murdered Barbadian human being is replaceable!