Reports of homicides cause us to respond with consternation and righteous indignation, as we should. But after reacting three or four times some days for an entire year of about 450 murders, I suspect that the uneasiness becomes muted. Either that, or we live in a continuous state of subconscious alarm.
I have no answers for what is currently overrunning my country but I live in hope that those who govern and those blessed with the training and skills would come to our rescue. My anxiety is definitely impacting my quality of life, though, and I guess it must be so for others.
Almost remote now from every circle, I quietly gauge opinions online about our current depravity. In some quarters, it is attributed to economic anxieties–the criminologists' theories include the fact that tough economic times account, in part, for the rise in crime. The social commentators say it is an issue of demographics, while many, including national security, point to profitable criminal activities like murder-for-hire and the illegal drug trade.
Whatever we believe, T&T cannot continue in this spiralling hell. A new path is necessary; anything better than the present is desirable. Yet crafting a better space, a better society, seems so obscure and the despondency so pervasive.
I listen attentively to views on the way forward, reading comments, and sifting emotions (and sometimes intelligence). We all seem to agree that about one per cent of the population is making a mockery of the mass. To a great extent, we appreciate that the criminality of the few miscreants can and does misrepresent the entire population.
I've come to realise that mostly we think it's the "big" issues alone that have brought us to this place of mental anguish, this emotional bent. We readily discount our individual complicity not thinking we affect the whole situation when we also break the rules–like using the shoulder of the highway to bypass those who legitimately belong in front of you and with your children in the vehicle.
I have recognised, too, that criminality among the affluent gets treated with kitty gloves by the very lawmakers/enforcers entrusted with the authority to deal with "lower level" criminals on our behalf, increasing our national mistrust of politicians, parliamentarians, police, et al.
It's obvious that our instability and infringements are multi-pronged issues, as should be our interventions. But so far, not much is being offered as solutions. People want to emasculate rapists' manhood as repayment and talk begins again about the death penalty and, in all that, double standard is possibly our leading offence.
I believe that when we view complicity with even-handedness, including our individual responsibility to uphold the law, then, at a minimum, we would have begun to approach the issue of crime and national insecurity, with integrity.
Still, my utmost intrigue is the parallel we make with crime and peoples' mental well-being, pronouncing regularly, "There are sick people out there" as though "out there" is a separate colony from where we live. Meanwhile, some of us live in the same house with the sick people "out there".
Everyone I have asked what we mean by "sick people" pointed to some degree of psychological or psychiatric conditions and illnesses.
And so, if anyone is listening, I'd like to add mental health/well-being and mental illnesses to the reasons for our national insecurity–and I do not mean madness or schizophrenia at all. I'm hoping that the powers would give active consideration to including requisite mediations from pre-schoolers to pensioners, in their decision-making.
I do not know about you, but this place scares me. I am watering plants after 6.30 pm and I look up into the darkness of the forest behind me and I'm suddenly overtaken by the thought, "What if someone is out there wanting to get the feel of a gun and use me for target practice?" That was the end of that exercise (and I accept your label of paranoia).
That incident caused me to assess my sense of insecurity. I realised how imperative it is for me to have all entrances tripled and quadrupled locked, how I have plotted escape, and how, at nights, every car door that closes is an intruder.
The curtains have a special lining that allows me to see outside but mask the view of the outsider. Often at nights, I skulk down the corridor barefooted, in the dark looking for any movement outside the windows.
I rush home on evenings because I am intimidated to roll down my windows at night to enter the security code to get inside. And I currently live in a relatively safe community that only ever registered two or three break-ins.
I presume this mental anguish for me (as you) will persist until, among other improvements, we are afforded a higher probability of criminal apprehension, a better functioning police and judicial system, and prompt punishment being meted out for lawbreaking at every level. But until then I remain alert, alarmed even. What a life!