Message for the Fourth Sunday After The Epiphany – January 30, 2022

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During this last week, I received many electronic messages and  a video in which a group of young men, all carrying guns of many sizes which appeared to be one of our “zinc fence” communities.  As I watched them walk in single file, in what seemed like an organised walk through, I asked myself the question “what drives these young men to this”.

I invite us to ask ourselves what motivates our young men in particular to become part of gangs and organised criminal structures.  The customary talk of what the Government is doing about this, the outburst of anxiety, random statements and  the cries of condemnation have not and will not stop our ongoing and growing crime and violence challenge.  We have a national crisis which affects all of us.  As such, all of us have a role to play in addressing this very serious matter.  Taking positions for and against the states of emergency have become a political issue and like so many other issues, this only serves to frustrate meaningful responses.

I invite us to explore the possibility that our young men living in economically depraved communities, under-educated, lacking opportunities for socio-economic advancement and made to feel powerless, even to the point of impotence, will see a gun as the way forward.  Guns provide them with the possibility to rob and do contract killings, both of which have financial possibilities and by extension economic benefits.  Guns provide them with some level of “respect” in their circumstances and a false sense of power.  Given these realities, the gun and criminality is a real opportunity.  The risk of being killed, either by the police or rival fractions is one they are willing to take, because for some “mi dun ded arready.”  The possibility for the experience of a sense of power, respect and the capacity to be feared in community is worth it.  The fears we have and the anxieties we experience whenever there is a spike in murders, have no impact on these youths.

We who are “more privileged” because of our education and have better access to financial and economic benefits, are challenged to understand the reality of “the others”.  I submit that until we develop a more wholesome understanding of the issues related to these ridiculous murders and acts of criminality, then, we will never be effectively equipped to become part of the solution and will continue to just being able to talk about this matter of national significance.

Think on these things!

Love always,

Fr. Eddie