EDITORIAL: JAM DONE. LIFE GONE.
Another Summer Festival is over. Another life has been lost. Another mother weeps for her son. Another child is fatherless. Another plea for peace. Another finger points at the police. Another eye witness will remain silent. Another criminal will remain free. And just when we get past this tragedy, and things have calmed down, another life will be lost and the cycle will continue.
Ancel Carty. Remember that name. He was gunned down in Anguilla on 5th August 2016, Parade Day, one of the most festive days of the year. He was someone’s son, brother, father, friend, co-worker and partner. He mattered, and so did all the other persons this little island has lost through gun violence. There have been so many that we cannot remember all their names and faces, but we ought to, for they mattered. They were created for a purpose. To someone they meant the world, but their lives were cut short with their purpose unfulfilled and their dreams unrealized. It seems that our society has become immune to these senseless tragedies.
Yes, we talk a lot. We march a lot and we blame a lot. But we can talk, march and blame till the cows come home, it won’t change a thing. If I was a gambler, I would bet that most of the persons who are involved in these violent acts do not listen to the radio talk shows, read the newspaper or even hear about the marches. They exist in their own underworld where their realities, experiences and exposure are far different from the life of ordinary Anguillians. As a result, they cannot relate to us and we cannot relate to them. We do not understand their motivation, fears, pain and rage; nor do they understand our outrage. By and large, we have been unable to reach them, probably because we do not know how. So, when there is another murder, we do the politically correct thing and express anger, frustration and sympathy. But then life goes on and the party continues. Anguilla is losing its sons and daughters and we act as if it is “normal”. Perhaps this is our way of dealing with a situation in which we feel powerless to make a change.
I challenge us to reject the notion that we are powerless, and recognize that in each of us, individually and collectively, lies the power to make a change. We can begin by being better parents and neighbours. We cannot leave the raising of children to chance, but make a deliberate effort to show them love, discipline them appropriately and live in a way that teaches them right from wrong. We also have to be parents to our neighbours’ children and step into the gap when the need arises. Kind words and actions, guidance, admonitions and a safe refuge can go a long way for a child who may be in a troubled home.
Additionally, rather than being paralysed by fear, which causes many to remain silent, we can turn that fear into power and say something when we see something. There is no other way to put this, but our silence is fueling this ongoing violence. The perpetrators feel protected by the fact that no one will talk. Through our sealed lips, we have turned our power over to them and are in effect hostages in our own country. The more perpetrators that are brought to justice, the safer our society will be. Whether we choose to remain hostages, or to be free, is solely up to us.
Lastly, for the purposes of this editorial, we can make a conscious and coordinated effort to go into the world where some of these perpetrators exist, meet them on their turf, gain their trust through our consistent demonstration of compassion, and try to show them another way; show them that they too have options; empower them with the tools they need to change the direction of their lives. This will not be easy, and change will not happen overnight – but if we remain committed change will come.
I refuse to believe that all is lost in Anguilla. I refuse to believe that we will sit by and allow more sons and daughters to fall from gunfire. At the peak of our emancipation celebration, we were struck by tragedy. Rather than being dejected, we can heed the call of Queen Roxxy and Fresh Cold to be better human beings and work together for the good of mankind. Another life is gone. Let us not simply move on. Let us honour Ancel Carty and all others who have gone before by vowing that this will be the last. A call to action. A time for change. An opportunity to use our power so that children are raised to show compassion, criminals are brought to justice and no more lives are lost.