Be Willing to Dare

By Beverley Anderson-Manley
Jamaica Gleaner
July 10, 2006

WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING notes that "there are seasons, in human affairs, of inward and outward revelation, when new depths seem to be broken up in the soul, when new wants are unfolded in multitudes, and a new undefined good is thirsted for. There are periods when ... to dare, is the highest wisdom".

This is a period in Jamaica when it is time, once again to take note that to dare is indeed the highest wisdom. There are several occasions during our past history of colonialism and slavery when we have dared, when we have had the courage to engage inwardly and outwardly so that something else could emerge - "a new undefined good".


As we look around us, we are absolutely amazed at what we are seeing. Taking last week alone, we see a situation where a deacon of a church, charged with the responsibility of transporting our sons and daughters, allegedly watches and directs young men in the most degrading activity of all - the gang rape of one of our daughters. It is captured on video so that sick minds can be fed. All of us who are mothers and fathers - all of us who parent - must feel a deep sense of shame as we reflect on the causes and consequences of this stain on our humanhood.

Do we dare to insist on harsh punishment for these sick men who prey on our children. Do we dare to insist that they receive the kind of treatment that is necessary to prevent them from ever carrying out these dastardly acts again? Do we dare to assert that we know who they are and the neighbourhoods they live in - so we can protect our children from them? Perhaps if we dare, elements of the "new undefined good" that is "thirsted for", can begin to appear.


Also, during last week, we saw the unfolding tragedy that is Norwood. A relatively small community with a terrain that is challenging for police work. Can you imagine waking up in your community to discover that five murders took place the night before? It is impossible for this type of violence to take place without serious harm being done to the relatives of the murdered, the community and the society. Do we dare to pay our taxes so that the resources that our law enforcement officers need can be given to them? Do we dare to support the police so they can deal with these young men who have so gone astray that they seem to lack basic human emotions. These young men are numb and by their very actions we, too, are often forced into a kind of numbness that prevents us from taking action right where we are. Do the citizens of Norwood dare to tell the police what they know? Do they dare to have the courage to help to stop this bloodbath, this carnage?


Dr. Earl Wright, head of the Mental Health Department of the Ministry of Health, writing in this newspaper last week noted that "we have high incidences of trauma, homicide, violence, motor vehicle accidents and hurricanes....when you have incidents that produce high stress, that is life-threatening, you tend to have higher incidences of major depressive disorder". The percentage of persons suffering from major depressive disorder is high for Jamaica. When you couple this with substance abuse - the most common mental illness in Jamaica - it is clear that we have a serious problem. Let us use our imagination to understand how this is manifesting before our very eyes.

We need to wake up and develop an attitude that sees the gang-rape of a 15-year-old schoolgirl and wanton murders as links in a chain that lock us as a society that is reeling downward into a spiral of viciousness and inhumanity.

Beverley Anderson Manley is a Political Scientist and Transformation Coach. Email:


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