Mark Wignall | Holness will be tested like never before
As you would know by now, I am not a big fan of prayer breakfasts, national days of prayer, and other such noble gatherings.
And it is not because I believe that prayer has no use. I am aware that there are many people who lean on prayer as the greatest psychological crutch in their lives. For those people I always use my empathetic side in trying to understand them.
But in my simplest understanding of the practical implications of prayer, I am certain that armed gang members and lone-wolf gunmen are not moved to hand over their lives to God and to make radical change in giving up the gun and their murderous ways.
In fact, I believe that, say, five or six gunmen gathered at their lair or den of iniquity would be tempted to have a good laugh when our political and religious leaders engage in what they do best: talk and wring their hands.
Recently, the prime minister (PM) came almost to a breaking point while speaking at one such gathering. This is how The Gleaner reported a part of it.
“I go to my bed with these things on my conscience every night. I know that I have tried. It’s a minefield because every turn you make, there is someone who is trying to stop it, and I have to wonder, are they in support of the criminals in the country?” the prime minister asked, his voice cracking at moments.
Let us understand something here. It is either that the PM may have been pretending, or he was genuinely moved and could not control his emotions in a public setting. Either way we will never know depending on the skills he must have honed over the years from 2011.
There are many who would swear that the emotion was genuine. If we are to accept that then the PM joins Bobby Montague and Peter Bunting when they were security minister in their respective administrations and pleaded for divine intervention.
LIMITATIONS OF HELP FROM ABOVE
As I said then and I reiterate now, whenever ministers in the most difficult ministry of national security bawl out for divine intervention, what they are really doing is trying to play with the religious emotions of our highly Christianised people. But more importantly, and sadly, the gentlemen were baring their souls and telling us that they have no answers.
They were ready to throw in the towel. Is the PM aware of these constructs? I am sure he must be.
The title of The Gleaner article was ‘Holness haunted by murder wave’. An alternative title could have been quite unkind to PM Holness as in, ‘Holness confused by murder wave’. The PM is not in any unique spot that we the people can claim is different to where we are. We all live here, and we see the rot. But, of course, we don’t get to make policy, see it turned to nought and in the public space get to pronounce another version of a cry for divine intervention.
According to the prime minister, “We have to stop the guns from coming in. That’s why we’re putting the boats out there, and we are going to put more out there so we can control our territorial borders. Talk bout crime plan. It’s the first time Jamaica has a plan that is being executed and not just talk, money behind it,” he said, referencing his administration’s multibillion-dollar spend on national security since 2016.
Great, Prime Minister! It would be very interesting if one year down the road the PM can come to the nation without threatening us with tears and tell us about the great success on controlling our territorial borders.
We empathise with you PM, but standing there on the verge of tears is very definitely not what we need now, and it doesn’t matter how may of us are praying. At this stage it is difficult to gauge the response of the population to the PM having a near emotional breakdown in the public space.
NO TIME FOR TEARS
It has always been the norm that our men folk prefer when their male leaders are strong and forthright. Women, I would imagine, would prefer a softer touch. At this time the nation is fully in the throes of a vicious fourth wave of COVID-19. The positivity rate has shot to up to dizzying heights. The way out of this troubling predicament is still unknown.
The Holness that we want to show up and take this on is definitely not the Holness who is on the verge of shedding tears. He has to tackle those inner demons that are threatening to upset the strong side that many knows he has.
Anything less than that will not be good enough. All of the COVID-19 lessons he learned in 2020 and 2021 will be seared into his memory banks, and a brand new, fully charged Andrew Holness will have to show on most matters with regards to immediate gun violence reduction and responding to the new wave of COVID-19 and troubling variants that are likely to show their ugly and unwanted faces.
He cannot afford to dwell on the antics of the Opposition People’s National Party, which seems to have gathered in a line of death along with fielders in the gully just beating on him to nick a ball into its hands. All of the skills that go to make him up will need to be drawn on.
LISTEN TO MR PANDOHIE
The CEO of Seprod, Richard Pandohie, has suggested that the health authorities in this country ought to take the vaccination to the people by pretty much flooding the areas where people, especially those in rural areas, do their shopping - markets, supermarkets, and just about any area where these is a guarantee that the people will visit instead of suggesting that they visit health centres and sites where blitzes are being held.
This cannot happen too soon.