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The Pastoral Letter on

The Struggle between Life and Death

by Most Rev. Donald James Reece,

Archbishop of Kingston

As a nation Jamaica has come to a truly sorry and tragic pass. Not even our children are safe anymore.  From 2003 until now, 398 children have been killed, some of whom have been savagely raped before being brutally murdered.  It’s bad enough—truly wrong—to take another person’s life, but when we start making children and the defenseless elderly “fair game,” the society has reached the nadir of existence. Some of us have become despicable barbarians with cold, calculating hearts—a far cry from our innate Jamaican values and way of life.  The outcry from pulpit, parliament, verandahs, and bars has been one of outrage. The cry that is heard in not a few homes is one of “wailing and loud lamentation: Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are no more” [Jer 30:15; Matt. 2:18].

The culture of violence and death seems to be contending with the culture of life, and it’s up to each Jamaican to pause and ask whence this recent mode of barbarity that is worse than any hurricane or flood.  We are content  with crying “shame” and “outrage,” but that is not enough.  Not even the politicians’ master plan—if there is such a plan—to contain this culture of violence and death is sufficient. Were we only to focus “out there” to identify the origin of this sad state of affairs, we would perhaps be touching only the tip of the iceberg.  

We must look within ourselves for the causes of the problem. Although we delude ourselves to think that we are on top of things by saying, “JAMAICA, NO PROBLEM, MON!” the truth of the matter is that a good part of the problem is within.  Therefore, we must go way beneath the tip of the iceberg.  Unfortunately we surround ourselves with all sorts of distraction, noise and entertainment (the “bread and circus” routine!).  We shy away from any introspection that would spur us on to tackle the problem and come up with effective actions to help remedy this sad situation in which we find ourselves.  The Epistle of James points in the direction of introspection: “What causes these fights and quarrels among you?  Is it not your inner longings which make war within your own selves?  When you long for something which you cannot have, you kill for it, and when you do not get what you desire, you squabble and fight” [Jas. 4: 1 – 2].    

 
 
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