By Donovan Watkis
The alarming incidences of violence in Jamaica should be a cause for deep cultural introspection for all citizens on the causes of violence.
I launched a #noviolenceinlove campaign, which aims to decode and decrease ideas causal to violence in our society. My team and I have created films, public service announcements, music, and video images in an effort to reshape the way Jamaicans see themselves.
Donovan Watkis is an author and film maker. His latest publication is JR’s Hope: Thoughts On Improve From Up The Street and the #noviolenceinlove campaign. You may email responses to email@example.com
The Caribbean has 15 of the top most violent countries in the world. What could be the cause and are we only alarmed when something drastic happens or do we see the diction of violence playing out in everyday situations?
The violence in explained in our music, and showcased in the inequitable socio-economic policies. The effects are perhaps better understood when one steps outside and look within.
Michael Lee-Chin recently said at the Jamaica Stock Exchange Capital Markets Conference that he went to the market with NCB abroad and was told by overseas financiers that NCB (a Jamaican company that makes billions of dollars per year) is a castle in a bad neighbourhood. Which really means that as much as the company is making a lot of money, the violence in its environment makes it less attractive for investors. The economic violence in that statement was not missed by me.
Humanity’s evolution up to now has been about the survival of the fittest, and this has resulted in a violent narrative for women and children in variegated nations.
Why are men more violent than women?
There is a lot of infuriating anger that permeates and penetrates the cultural psyche of men. While this is still in the minority its aggressive impact of street far reaching with some research showing that over 90 percent of murders and other violent crimes are committed by men.
Men are less likely to back down and more likely to see the survival of the fittest idea through all the way until someone is conquered, which usually means death.
Both men and women are mammals with a predisposition for aggression and with increased testosterone and aggressive stimulants in the environment the fight for respect becomes more candid in men.
Violence cannot be fully measured but one thing we know is that if a human is brought up with a need for social dominance he/she will act more violently later on in life. In animals this is the accepted norm but in humans a gentler skill is required to advance humanity.
There is the need for a culture of wisdom, where the art reflects the care, nurturing and strength of our women, girls, and boys in Jamaica.
This idea of survival and competition within the cultural narrative has been communicated to our relatively young nation and if some preselected to be the fittest, then someone else is naturally the weakest. Our school competitions, political frostlines and the relationship with authorities and citizens all have sprinkles of violence.
In the military the application of violence there is discipline acquired through drills and muscle memory. Violence is taught as a means to defend and protect the interest of a nation.
In this quest to protect in civilian society, the unnaturally fast tempo of life takes no consideration for the slowest members even as humanity’s advancement is like an army’s convoy; it will go as fast as the slowest member. That is the disciplined awareness required to eliminate violence.
Being empathetic to other people’s opinions and shortcomings does not make us weak; on the contrary it empowers all the members within the convoy. We need the strength of our women in that convoy and if we empower women, girls, and boys with the deeper sensate towards casual violence we may be able to create new norms with sensitivity, care and love at the center.
Nurtured violence through unexpressed childhood anger can produce suicidal adults. Whether suicide or homicide, this violence stems from a desperate demand for respect and repetitive meaningless sensations that manifest itself in the form of uncontrollable anger as adults.
Whenever parents, governments, and societies miss the opportunity to empower girls and boys with early discipline, we deal with a range of violent emotional issues later on in life.
Jamaica is filled with many indiscipline and dissatisfied people. Dissatisfied people become violent easily, especially when amplified with testosterone.
We cannot advance the society when women are being mutilated, raped, abused and mistreated by men who were taught violent narratives about masculinity and manliness from an early age through patriarchal theories.
Passive lessons taught to men
It amazes me that boys are still learning to be solitary men who should deal with everything by themselves and show no sign of weakness. This is a social vice. The passive codes and “man laws” need an upgrade into better cultural substrates in order to eliminate violence.
Men are still learning that they can cry for a loss and nothing else. As a result, men work their whole lives striving never to suffer a loss, but to dominate and conquer at all cost because if they should suffer a loss, they may be motivated to cry and “big boys (bad man) don’t cry.”
The fact is, if a man displays a healthy set of emotions, that makes a man respect himself. A man who respects himself is not afraid to express himself truth in each moment without violence. There is no replacement for this that may be sought through beers or football games or other machismo rituals. It is deep internal, life changing work in which every young boy should be engaged.
Teaching boys that violence against women and girls is violence against themselves should be a founding social lesson. I will raise my boys in such a way that they feel comfortable expressing themselves in gently and participate in gentle activities otherwise deemed feminine or “girlie”.
That will make them grow less judgmental of themselves, and make the way for deeper and more meaningful sensitivity towards women. Boys need to know that they do not need to be right all the time and that they don't need to always be in control.
I will allow my boys to discover their desires and emotions without my influence. If my boys are to become better fathers, husbands, and leaders than we have today, and if they are to remove the violent narratives from love in their generation, then I must teach them that treating girls fairly is a virtue and seeing them as equal is a good thing that does not take away from their strength.
I should also teach my daughter that a boy who throws a stone at her in kindergarten does not love her but he is trying to hurt her, and love does not hurt.
This teachable narrative of empathy and love at the forefront and violence at the back, can and will take us to the next stages of development Jamaica and the Caribbean so desperately need.