First Published on September 5, 2012
The carnival season is over and, as far as I can tell, the fiesta was enjoyed without any major criminal incidents. As a result, for our safety, we commend the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) for doing such an outstanding job for keeping the carnival revelers safe especially coming on the heels of the spike in violent crimes just weeks leading up to the festival.
Within this backdrop, we are reminded that, for a society to function properly, safety is paramount. Societies constantly improve their rules and regulations in an effort to meet the best collective needs of its people. Since this carnival season has passed without any major incidences, this has pleased us so greatly. Constantly sustaining such a safe society should be our major goal moving forward. No! I am not speaking of creating a utopia. I am saying that as a nation, we must find ways to improve our society so that each citizen, without being restricted or being afraid, can explore and live fulfilling lives.
Since, however, creating an ideal society with the perfect socioeconomic, political and legal system seems out of reach, societal problems will continue to be with us for some time or forever. Knowing this means that finding real solutions to the seemingly inescapable problems that will surface within our society must become one of our main concerns. But, how do we achieve such a goal?
Appealing to pre-enlightenment, dark-ages solutions of appealing to a God or gods, for instance, is not an option. As I have alluded to above, we can accomplish this by each of us accepting our duty to be responsible moral agents – good citizens – and contribute positively to our immediate society and, of course, to the world at large. Kirani James has indeed demonstrated this to us during the past London 2012 Olympic Games. This is indeed one way, and a very important one at that; being good for goodness’ sake.
However, despite each citizen, on an individual and community level, doing his or her part, acting on a national political level is also extremely important. We must seek to be informative citizens and exercise our voting rights in order to place the right people in the positions, designed to produce solution and solve the problems we face. Our elected officials must have the ability to properly diagnose the problems we face. They must be able to understand or at least be capable to identify the root causes of societal ills. Thus, we must critically evaluate actions taken by our elected officials at all times.
Take the call put forth by Her Majesty’s Opposition Party. The New National Party (NNP) calls for National Days of Prayers, as a case in point. As a concerned citizen, I am very interested in knowing whether these elected officials sincerely believe that the prayer option is a real, viable solution to the problems they are trying to solve. In other words, do these officials actually believe, as objective facts, that praying will provide a change in our experience? Can they, because of the prayer, provide certainty of change? My vote is at stake here!
In my mind, the fact that these officials are calling for prayer as a means to solve real problems appears to expose them as not having the slightest understanding of the source of societal ills. To this position, however, I am desperately trying not to adhere. But this knee-jerk reaction taken by supposed intelligent men and women in an effort to quell what appears to be an increase in killings leading up to the carnival celebrations, seems to confirm my fears. Society’s safety must be among our ultimate concerns, but reverting to the old adage of appealing to God as a valid policy to contend with very real problems isn’t very reassuring. As a citizen working for the best of my country, here is what I believe the source of some of these crimes are.
Taking the recent crime wave as the point of diagnostic entry – and I am concerned here with what is normally classified as “crimes of passion”, a category most of the crimes in Grenada seems to fall into – some troubling characteristics become apparent.
I am not contending that the points highlighted above are the only aspects that contribute to crimes and other problems in Grenada. The stellar job done by the RGPF this carnival by ensuring that everyone entering a celebration area was stopped and searched revealed the melancholy nature of many Grenadians. Hundreds of weapons were found on individuals who certainly intended to cause harm on others. What this shows, is that the human being’s ability to personify negative characteristic for no apparent reasons is certainly a factor. But these points I have pointed out here are obvious ones, which, I believe, are the major underpinnings for most of these “crimes of passion.” In fact, these crimes seem to point to one common denominator – economics: The lack of sustainable living.
This, my friends, prayer cannot and will not fix. My argument, of course, is not that if we happened to create a society where one hundred percent employment exists, crimes will disappear. Certainly not! What I am saying is this: Our elected officials are looking in the wrong direction for the solution. I am certain that there cannot and will never be any direct causal effect of positive change on societal problems that can or will be, as a result of prayer. Calypsonian Elimus Gilbert – The Inspector – reminded us in 1989 that ‘we were going the wrong way’ – the title of one of his calypsos that year. This is a warning, I will argue, is relevant here. Callin for prayer as a means to fix real problems is going the wrong way. We are looking in wrong directions. These political officials should stop the knee-jerk reactions. They should refrain from engaging in wishful thinking, and instead, take the time to properly diagnose and understand the cause of our societal problems. Then and only then can they developed real solutions. Certainly, as highly religious people, they are moved by their religious faith in their God. However, to invoke the word of the American inventor, journalist, printer, diplomat and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, “the way to see by faith is to shut the eye to reason.”