Roman Catholic

Archdiocese of Kingston










On the other hand, when we embrace the notion of the common good, inclusiveness includes the sound and the infirm, the elderly and the unborn, the child and the youth, the poor and the rich, the law-abiding and the criminal.  Even when justice is administered in the case of the latter, a modicum of respect for life must be adhered to, if the seamless cloak of life—which is sacred, though somewhat soiled—is to be safeguarded for the good of all.  The familiar song, “No Man Is an Island” sums up that inclusive, common good: “each man’s joy is joy to me; each man’s grief is my own.”  How do we get from the culture of violence and death to a culture of life?  That is a difficult and arduous process!   Then, again, nothing good comes easy.

A new way of thinking and new attitudes must be cultivated if we are to contribute positively to a much-desired transition from the culture of violence and death to the culture of life.  This is a long-haul process requiring tough decisions on all fronts that will address the causes—not the symptoms—of crime and violence, especially in our cities where our traditional values of care and concern are sacrificed upon the altar of expediency and greed.  Is this utopian?  Perhaps!  But I would rather consider this desired transformation the ultimate of our Judeo-Christian heritage that must be rescued and lived in our everyday living experience.  A complex problem is not remedied by a simple solution.  Families, Churches, the private sector, the media, and government must work in close collaboration if the tide is to be turned. And turn it must if we are to safeguard the mere minimum of civilization!


Clearly the crux of the problem we now face is the breakdown of family life in its various forms, the majority of which are either dysfunctional or estranged; this is the bane of family life. Compounding that scenario is poverty and unemployment. Single-parent families—no matter how valiant such parents may be—are not the ideal; children need both parents, at least to be able to know and identify with the absent parent. A first step…perhaps a baby-step is the introduction in Parliament of measures to have mandatory DNA testing to establish paternity, thereby ensuring that each child’s right to two named parents becomes a reality. Hopefully this will result in the reduction in numbers of “deadbeat dads” who, unidentified, refuse to assume their responsibility.

Also, parents who shirk their duty to instill in their under-aged children desirable patterns of behaviour (e.g., parents whose permissiveness lead to children’s roaming the streets late at nights) should be held accountable, possibly with the imposition of a fine.  On the other hand, it may very well be that the “roaming” is occasioned by poor housing and hygienic conditions where minors (and even adults) go home only to fall asleep immediately in order to avoid reflecting upon their subhuman situations.  Should not government have a role to play where those caught in the vise of poverty and poor housing cannot extricate themselves without some assistance?  Is the National Housing Trust or any other government entity adequately equipped to help pry this vise?


(c) copyright, 2008,  roman catholic archdiocese of kingston, jamaica, west indies