Mon | Sep 23, 2019

Diary of a Ghetto Priest | ‘Be still and know that I am God’

Published:Friday | July 19, 2019 | 12:32 AMFr Richard Ho Lung

This is a time of great turmoil. There are so many people who are being murdered in the southside in Kingston – both young men and women.

Why is there so much frustration and anger? My heart is saddened by the lack of respect for life, young, old and even kids.

So many adults in the ghetto are loitering in the streets in the morning. So many men seem aimless, hanging around outside broken down gates, half-naked. The women are combing each other’s hair, chatting, and laughing. They are aimless and unemployed.

Then there are the many who are so-called self-employed, some selling biscuits and candy, others mangoes and bananas, while some push carts with a collection of broken wood; everything is in slow motion.

When you ask: ‘Who are your parents? Who are your sisters and brothers? What about your kids?’ You find that there is no one who seems responsible for others. Our people exist and do not exist early in the hot mid-morning sun.

Then there is the fear, the violence, the drugs, the sex, no work, and all that inner energy unused! Oh God, how can we grow and move forward as a nation? I sometimes feel despair. I feel sadness.

I pray. “Be still and know that I am God.” There is Robin Mahfood and Food For The Poor. There is Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon and Mustard Seed. There is Missionaries of the Poor. There are so many other Jamaicans. They are trying and working! We want our nation to prosper but seem to be going backward.

What will we do?

Everybody wants to go to the United States, though they love Jamaica. What will we do? The brain drain is definite and with purpose. Many young Jamaicans say, I will go overseas and get educated and then return home. But there aren’t the opportunities here. There isn’t the hope and cost of living is burdensome. I’ve got to go. Moreover, there is all this violence.

I can’t despair ... we must not despair. We must keep trying, with God as our saviour. We love our country.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Jamaica is so beautiful. Thank you Lord! We must keep on trying. Somehow the light keeps shining. We keep on laughing and we keep praying as we find some inner peace.

There is still a job to be done. We must be faithful, despite the sadness and moments of despair.

It’s not just Jamaica, but everywhere there are so many problems – the world has lost its centre morally and spiritually; right is wrong and wrong is right. But the truth will always win out, and those of us who remain in the battle will build a country, Jamaica, into something that is beautiful for God.