As I laid on the beautiful white sand beach enjoying the warm crystal-clear waters hitting the shores of Negril, my mind and soul drifted to the Wars and Crimes happening in the world. I considered myself lucky and more fortunate than many. I was totally captivated by the melting pot of people from many nationalities who converged on this piece of paradise to enjoy the beautiful offerings of ‘sun, sea, and sand’.
Negril - Crystal Clear Waters
Around me, the smell of well-seasoned jerk chicken permeated the air with its sweet aroma as the smoke rose from a black, yellow, and green jerk chicken pan. Additionally, the pulsating vibration of a sound system, manned by an energetic DJ, playing the potent and appropriate words of reggae icon Bob Marley made it even more relaxing:
Bob Marley - Everywhere is War
"Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned - Everywhere is War".
It is so ironic, that the pervasiveness of War and Crime today can easily disturb and transform our peace and tranquility. The high levels of Inequality and Iniquity in our society are major drivers of the proliferation of these Wars and Crimes. Happiness remains transient for many people, as weapons of mass destruction are created to traumatize us and damage our communities. In many instances, War and Crime are only perpetrated by a few power-hungry and unjust persons trying to satisfy their ego and their desire to exploit others. Over the last month, we have watched in dismay and with horror as neighbours and relatives, from Russia and Ukraine, fight to their death, while displacing millions of children and women and devastating their cities. Simultaneously, many urban cities of the world are experiencing other types of war, crime, and violence, that are escalating in our communities and threatening our security, livelihood, and economic viability.
War - Russia Versus Ukraine
Wars and Crimes
War is defined as armed conflicts between countries or groups of people (political or social fractions) in a country (lexio.com). The first war on record took place way back in 2700 BC between Sumer and Elam. From these early times individuals, states or political parties have utilized wars to gain sovereignty, suppress rebellions, and rebut invaders using their armies. Over time armies have changed in formation and size, but they continue to be defined by two types of infantry; Shock troops and Peltasts. Shock troops are frontline infantry that comes in direct contact with opposing forces, while Peltasts move in looser formation and fire long-range weapons at their enemy (worldhistory.org). The sophistication of weaponry and the use of technology have dramatically changed the way wars are fought today. Notwithstanding this advancement, war ultimately leads to the maiming and killing of people, and the devastation of infrastructure. Recently, we saw in Afghanistan the killing of many innocent civilians as the USA utilized drones to target and launch bombs on terrorist positions. Presently, Russia which is having challenges fighting a ground war in Ukraine has resorted to launching cruise missiles which have devastated many Ukrainian cities, while maiming and killing hundreds of innocent civilians.
It was also particularly shocking and devastating for the people of Ukraine, who found out that a major massacre occurred just outside of the capital city Kyiv, as the Russians retreated. President Zelensky of Ukraine accused Russia of committing ‘genocide’ against the Ukrainian people. Mayor Anatolii FedorukIt estimated that more than 320 civilians were murdered in the suburbs of Bucha. Many of these residents were executed in groups and others could be seen laying on the roads, they were obviously killed while walking, riding, and driving. Many persons were found shot in the back with their hands tied behind them. The Human Rights Watch confirmed that several cases of laws of war violations were committed by Russia in Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv. The United Nation reported that to date 1,300 people have been killed and 2,017 injured in the country, 64 of the dead are children. The burning question remains, what is Putin’s goal? The British Broadcasting Corporation News reported that “Putin Shattered the peace in Europe by unleashing war on a democracy of 44 million people, his justification was that modern, western leaning Ukraine was a constant threat and Russia could not feel safe to develop and exist” (bbc.com). The war is a disaster so far, with over 10 million people displaced in and outside of Ukraine and Russia. It is obvious that distrust, greed, and power are some of the reasons at the center of this war.
War devastates people and infrastructure
Intra-country wars are sometimes termed Crime and Violence, and these are becoming more prevalent in most major cities of the world. Crime is defined, as the intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under criminal law (britania.com). The increase in dangerous crimes, like homicides, has raised concerns in many countries and is fast becoming a major problem to economic stability. As the weapons of war became more commoditized and are placed in the hands of civilians there has been an escalation of homicides worldwide. The gun has been the most featured in the maiming and killing of innocent people in many urban cities. The escalation of Crime and Violence has been further compounded by the increase in gang and drug activities in many urban cities of the world. The top 5 most dangerous cities in the world in 2020, by murder rate of 100,000 inhabitants were Mexico – Los Cabos, Venezuela - Caracas, Mexico – Acapulco, Brazil – Natal, and Mexico – Tijuana. Los Cabos in Mexico is the city with the highest murder rate in the world, which was 111.3 for every 100,000 people living in the city. My home Kingston in Jamaica had the 16th highest murder rate in the world, with a murder rate of 59.7 (statista.com).
Our paradise home Jamaica is an interesting phenomenon of Crime and Violence. Many have opined about the reasons for the escalation of Crime and Violence in this little paradise. The Inter-American Bank highlighted that “Crime is now the main public safety issue for Jamaicans and a significant threat to the country’s human and economic development”. It further stated that the very high rate of violent crime is now fueled by organized crime, and gang activities and that the main perpetrators of violent crimes are young men between the ages of 16 to 24 years of age. Jamaica does not manufacture guns, but guns are the most prevalent weapons involved in major crimes such as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, shooting, and homicide. Jamaica’s homicide problems include deaths caused both by illegal and legal killing, including that caused by law enforcement units. The high level of murders is further exacerbated by the fact that the present justice system does not facilitate a high resolution of murder cases, which is between 5-8% annually (thewgsg.com). Jamaica continues to be the murder capital of the Caribbean, followed by Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In most instances, the victims of homicides are mostly young men who are poor, uneducated, and live in inner-city communities call garrisons.
Afghans - Falling from US plane
Inequality and Iniquity
I am convinced that Inequality and Iniquity are major drivers of War and Crime. Many ethnic conflicts are less about ethnic differences themselves but more about political, economic, social, cultural, or territorial matters. Some of the deadliest ethnic conflicts occurred in the Balkans, Rwanda, Chechnya, Iraq, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Darfur, Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip (Britannia.com). The irony is that the world is not short of resources and opportunities, they are, however, unfairly distributed, based on race, gender, religion, and social status. Unfortunately, countries with greater resources and wealth, have operated like big bullies on smaller poorer, and more vulnerable countries. The richer countries have utilized their wealth to invest in military equipment to take offensive and defensive actions against others as they protect themselves. Some countries with unique scarce resources, such as oil, have been targeted by other countries as these resources are deemed as potential security and economic risks. Many wars were fought to access or protect oil, these wars included World War II, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the US invasion of Iraq, the Iran-Iraq War, the Falklands War, and the Chao War between Bolivia and Paraguay. Colonialization and the slave trade were atrocities that were carried out by England, Spain, Portugal, Holland, and the French who exploited the human and natural resources of African and the Caribbean countries.
Inequality within a country is a major driver of Crime and Violence. Income gaps create social tension, especially when this gap impacts a persons’ quality and standards of living. This disparity can be seen in many urban cities, where beautiful upscale communities are typified by massive houses, beautiful high-end cars, and high-end social engagements by a few residents, compared to garrison communities next door characterized by zinc fences, filthy garbage-filled areas, poor and overpopulated houses, poor social infrastructures and dysfunctional community overrun by gangs. This leads to a feeling of unfairness, disunity, and envy that results in people using Crime and Violence to create a greater balance in resource distribution. Jamaica, a poor developing country, has a dramatic and uneven resource division among its population, this is evident in the upscale communities, and the Villas and Hotels which are accessed by more affluent persons, this is compared to the many depressed garrison inner-city communities in most urban cities and towns which in most recent times are overrun by scammers, gangs and gun violence. There is a direct correlation between poverty, low education, crime, violence, and mental illness. Many youths have opted for an easier pathway using Crime and Violence to create economic mobility. Many graduates who are unable to find employment have turned to cybercrimes to enrich themselves and support their families. Others have resorted to establishing and joining gangs that are involved in the drug and gun trade, stealing from residents, and extortion of businesses.
My dad used to say “di problem wid di wurl is dat wi have tuh much iniquity”. I agree with him, I think that injustice, wickedness, and immorality are partly the cause of the crime and violence that exist within our communities. People who are marginalized will in time fight for a better life, by identifying and acting against their persecutors. Many say that the world needs a spiritual awakening and a movement toward God, to ensure that we love, care for, and respect each other. I am a Christian who grew up in a Godly home. I was taught right from wrong at an early age by a dad who was a preacher and a Mom who was a deaconess. These teaching directed my life decisions. Unfortunately, many of our youth today lack a proper point of reference. The result is that our society is evolving to a place, where our value systems are permeated by immorality and wickedness. This is a growing plague as many are benefitting from practicing iniquity without proper or efficient systems of accountability. Our society requires an improved value system that begins with the family and is supported by a strong justice system. This will require that our children obtain proper parental care, better life benchmarks to emulate, and provided greater opportunities to create a better life.
Law Enforcers - Crime and Violence
Dr. DF Suggestions
There is no winning prescription for eliminating War and Crime. If this existed, it would have been administered centuries ago. The following are my suggestions of 5 things that could be implemented to make the world a better place:
1. Redistribution of scarce resources – the world produces one and a half times enough food to feed the people on the planet (foodfirst.org). It is barbaric and inhumane to not rationalize the world’s food resources to ensure that there is no starvation and malnutrition among the world’s people. This is even made worse when people are forced to fight and kill each other just to access food to guarantee their survival. I think we should all give a lending hand to others around us, especially to those among us that are most vulnerable.
2. Reduction in military expenditure – military and defense spending contributes to the maiming and killing of millions of people worldwide. In 2020 approximately US$1.981 trillion was the total military spending worldwide. The top 5 countries were the USA, China, India, Russia, and United Kingdom (worldpopulationreview.com). Military spending is utilized to further devastate the infrastructure of countries involved in wars. I think less should be invested in the weaponry utilized in wars and more should be spent on healthcare, education, and food security.
3. Utilizing education to create opportunities – A person’s economic success in life is driven by their literacy rate, this is seen in many countries with low literacy rates and high poverty levels. The countries with the lowest literacy levels in the world are Chad, Guinea, South Sudan, Niger and Mali. In these countries, poverty and literacy have a high correlation (worldpopulationreview.com). I think we should all provide our children with the best opportunity to get an education and create better quality and standard of living for them.
4. Invest in big infrastructure – Investment in infrastructure enables economic growth, private investments, and competitiveness in a market economy (oecd.org). The construction of big infrastructure facilitates a more structured society as it provides for better roads, housing, utility, commercial, and industrial facilities. I think that more gainfully employed people will have less propensity for Crime and Violence, as they are focused on being productive and building their lives.
5. Increase equity and equality – A nation that is unified by a vision for greater equity and equality among its people will have better respect for human life. The institute for family studies argued that a sustainable society depends upon strong families (ifstudies.org). I think we have to focus on raising our kids in a stable family environment, with parents, who live up to their responsibilities to protect, support, and nature their children.
War and Crime had their historical underpinnings in the exploitation of people through the fight for religion, territory, and scarce resources. Today the world continues to be overcome by the ‘strong overpowering the weak’, as seen by Russia a world superpower, bombing and killing innocent women and children in Ukraine, and gangs fighting turf wars in depressed communities in many cities. A world with less inequality and iniquity will always be a better place. Let’s focus on building better human beings for a better country.