All Human Life is Sacred - End Drug & Gang Culture Now!

19 October 2015

The Biblical message affirms the sacredness of human life. Jesus in the Gospels also stressed the completeness of life. His Messianic mission was to save life, not just disembodied souls. Therefore he taught us that those whose intentions are to do evil violate the sacredness of life. Murder really begins within an evil heart. Drug lords, pushers and gang members know fully well that hard drugs and illegal activities create the violence that destroys life.Their evil intention and actions violate the Divine principle of the affirmation  of life. 

The doctrine of  Incarnation teaches that Jesus lived a fully human life, thereby affirming the the dignity of human beings. The church also challenges any teaching or activity that attempts to devalue humanity. Jesus was not only Divine, but also fully human. The drug  and gang culture destroys human beings.  Drug lords, pushers and gang members show now sympathy for human sufferings. Members of communities where these groups operate adopt attitudes of no interference.  People fear for their safety; some are indifferent to the violence that occurs in drug-ridden communities. Members of the neighbourhood all know the drug lord the pushers and gang enforcers but they do not often act positively. The prevailing attitude  is generally "It  is none of their business". There is often a moral paralysis and spiritual decay in these communities. 

The effect of the use of hard drugs and gangs on communities is all pervasive. Generations are lost. People no longer engage in community service. Many of the talented and educated persons are lost. Family life, nation building and community development are adversely affected in these drug-ridden societies. All the characteristics of good family life are stymied.  People have to live with the insanity of the "borderline" and risk death if they cross the road. Many ex-gang members who genuinely want to make a change and leave the lifestyle have to live in fear that the will be gunned down by their former comrades. Many of our youth end up with criminal records that will affect their employment opportunities and future prospects.

The church must urgently address the problem of drugs and gang culture. Ecumenical leaning and action are essential. No one denomination has the human and financial resources to beat the challenge of dug related activities, addiction and gang violence. It is imperative that the church educate its membership as well at the  wider community.

Our school curricula must address the issue of drug and gang culture.  The programs should start  at the level of the  primary schools. It is critical to impart moral and ethical values and reach young minds at the most impressionable ages.  Our programs must be multi-facetted and include elements such as; drug/gang policy awareness, drug and gang prevention education, structured after school  programs including those in  sports, music and fine arts education (including the performing arts). We must provide opportunities such as tutoring and mentoring, community service opportunities, career awareness instruction, and even parent education. 

No doubt,  that some of these elements have been already been introduced into our education system but the current approach seems to be haphazard, sporadic, underfunded and ineffective.  Too much of the current policy thinking is reactive rather than preventative.  Focusing on student behaviour at the early stages is likely to be far more effective than relying on strategies such as metal detectors, targeting styles of clothing or using other "get tough" approaches with the children entering  our secondary schools. 

Like the HIV/Aids pandemic, the drug and gang culture must be arrested now and be eliminated in the process of time.  The situation is not hopeless, but the solution does not rest entirely on the shoulders of a politicians, law enforcement or  even the Judiciary.  The available research shows that drug and gangs culture  does not survive in  communities where the people  unite and work with law enforcement against this kind of activity.  This is important! The survival and the wellbeing of our fellow human beings, the community and the entire society are at stake.  

Indeed, drugs culture, gang violence  and drug trafficking  have become an existential threat to the sovereignty and independence of the states in the CARICOM region.  In the face of  this threat our regional governments seem powerless to act. This fact was brought home to me when recently I found a dusty copy of a report issued by the West Indian Commission  in 1993, entitled a "Time for Action". The report states:

"Nothing poses  great treats to civil society in CARICOM countries than the drug problem; nothing exemplifies the powerlessness of regional Governments more. That is the magnitude of the range that use and drug trafficking hold for our community. It is a many layered danger."

The report goes on to say :

"On top of all this lies the implication for governance itself at the hands of external agencies engaged in international interdiction and the drug barons themselves - the dons of the modern Caribbean - who threaten governance within"

Some twenty five  (25) years after this report was complied at great expense to the regional tax payer and released with such fanfare, can we say anything has changed? Or has the situation only gotten worse.