We must truly be our neighbour’s brother
Waking up on Sunday morning to the ghastly news of an apparent murder-suicide was shattering.
The heart-wrenching cries of grief from the affected family and friends of Kimberley and Derek Lovell reverberated across the nation, and, to repeat the words of one distraught onlooker at the scene of the crime at Alleyne’s Land, Bayville, St Michael: “How many more? What’s going on in this country?”
More questions than answers linger behind, and perhaps will for a while; but the glaring reality remains: two families among us are left with the anguish and unwelcome task of picking up the pieces from the senseless tragedy that probably could have been thwarted.
Most of us have read before similar stories, listened to the details, and have eventually tried to shut them out of our minds. We probably shook our heads or fists, and thought: “That’s terrible!” And, then carried on with our lives –– until the next incident.
This is current story, tragic through and through, sends an unmistakable and compelling message to all of us: we cannot continue like this.
Trouble is stalking our communities. But who is paying attention to the overwhelming evidence?
A young mother has lost her life prematurely. A father has perished. Two children, ages five and two, have lost both of their parents.
We stay clear of speculating or prejudging the circumstances. The matter, as it should be, is now in the capable hands of the Royal Barbados Police Force. Our interest now must be support for those hurting.
The revelations of family members reinforce that we have to be our brother’s keeper, and not just for those who share our blood.
Fabian Sargeant, the brother of Kimberley, admitted there were worrying signs, but never once thought the unthinkable incident would occur.
“I did not think it would have got so far,” he said.
In no way are we pointing fingers or casting blame at the devastated sibling. The fact is, his sentiment can easily be repeated by all of us.
This is how we largely function as a society, even after a string of terrible events in recent times –– the death of six-year-old Jahan King and the suicide of Shamar Weekes, 12.
After the outpouring of collective shock and disgust, what have we done differently as families, friends, neighbours and colleagues to prevent these dreadful occurrences?
As a community we do not do anywhere near enough to prevent family violence, and we are not entirely competent dealing with its aftermath. Far too often, no one wants to think or talk about uncomfortable situations that stare us in the face. We are not willing to stand up or speak up about whom we know, who could be involved, who could be a perpetrator, who could be a victim, or what goes on behind closed doors.
Some may argue we should not invade the privacy of others; but should we not at the risk of another pointless loss of life? Admittedly, it may not be within our hands to remedy the situation, but we can point the hurting to those who can offer professional help.
Violence is an epidemic. And like any epidemic, it cannot be controlled or eradiated unless it is addressed.
Authorities must seek to implement the most effective violence-prevention programmes and ensure such services are readily available.
As citizens, we need to be informed about what can and must be done.
We need to be brave and report violent and threatening behaviour, so we play our part in protecting the most vulnerable among us.