rights and wrongs

Rights and Wrongs

I do not (except, I do) believe that the conversation we are having is ‘which citizen should have their rights taken away’ and not ‘why doesn’t the govt & the legislature do their jobs?’ In real raasclaat life, That’s the conversation y’all wanna be having? Madness. 

What’s worse is that the Prime Minister himself appears to be pushing the same narrative. I see him. I’m incredulous. Not surprised. But the absolute gall of him to do that from the position of power he holds, from a position that accords him a high level of protection from injustice, is something to behold. 

Meanwhile, I see private citizens making reasonable, attainable suggestions about steps that can be taken to set Jamaica on the right path. I can’t even say “back on the right path” because I feel like we’ve been on the way to this very place since Independence and all we needed was leaders with actual vision to see past the next election, instead of politicians looking to line their pockets and feed their egos.  It not hard enuh. If private citizens can come up with such an achievable, rational, comprehensive and coherent outlines of suggestions that are absolutely possible to implement, why the people who beg fi di rerk and promise solutions cyaa dweet?

Now, we have actual politically appointed persons talking about which rights are more important than others. Say what? And citizens are agreeing? I understand the fear. The situation in Jamaica regarding crime and violence has been at critical level for decades. But, you see, it’s not a zero-sum situation. Rights exist in and of themselves, each with their own valid reasons for being. One (person) should not have to forfeit a right in order (for another person) to exercise or benefit from another right. 

We can all enjoy the rights accorded to us without someone else having to forfeit theirs. That’s how the system is supposed to work. With the correct, contextual & culturally relevant checks and balances in place, there doesn’t need to be a conversation about which right is more important. That’s the problem. We do not have those checks and balances in place because our legislature is lazy and incompetent and hasn’t seen fit to keep pace between the constitution, the laws, the culture and the people. Until they fix that, we will continue to exist in this state of pseudo-anarchy.

This conversation of one right being more important than the other is doing nothing more than feeding into the ‘us vs them’ narrative and it is dangerous. We are all ‘us’. We are all ‘them’. Because until a person is proven to be a vicious criminal, they have a right to due process. They have the right to liberty. To give the law enforcement authorities the right to detain without evidence is absolutely insane. This is not the way. Demand that they do their jobs, act on intelligence and gather evidence to support and facilitate prosecution. 

Otherwise, we are transferring the power over a very significant right into the hands of people who have demonstrated that they are incompetent and corrupt. How many innocent people have been incarcerated? It’s not even a slippery slope so much as it is a waterslide straight to hell. Some persons truly believe that they and those closest to them are somehow insulated from the rampant injustice that always arrives in the wake of such unconstitutional actions. 

But, a lot of them are going to learn the hard way that they’re not as insulated as they think they are. Because remember, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our police personnel consistently demonstrate that they are corrupt and corruptible. Those persons do not realise that they are only safe because of the current structures. When those are removed, no-one will be safe.

Create some commissions to actively and proactively address the issues and their offshoots that keep coming up in our society. They’re not hard to find. It’s been the same ones from ever since. 

Root out the damn corruption. Introduce accountability. Make changes that can be seen and felt but that do not infringe on the constitutional rights of citizens. Fix the systems. Most of Jamaica’s issues can be traced back to systemic failures that have persisted for years, if not decades. Stop treating issues in a vacuum. everything is intertwined. Make sure to acknowledge and account for linkages when changes are being made.

But it’s the work they’re running from. That’s what our politicians have avoided for decades now. The work, and in some cases, the loss of popularity. People a guh vex. The “Friends & Family” government money access plan has to be dismantled. They’re probably going to have to forfeit an election or two. But these things must happen. There’s no other way to bring sustainable change to Jamaica. Do. The. Work. The legislative work. The sociocultural work. The strategic work. Fix the systems.