I never knew the meaning of the cliche: “ … until the cows come home” until I moved to Jamaica.
I realize that there are farms and farm living in the United States and even in Florida in some regions. Nevertheless, I have lived in Florida and near the ocean for most of my life, so farm life is unfamiliar. I never experienced living amidst farm animals and certainly not around animals who are “free range” literally! I find it comical when I think about growing up with a limited view of certain areas of life like farming, or more specifically the life of a cow, and that I did not understand the meaning of the cow cliche.
I used to drive for Uber. I love driving. I loved driving my Mini Clubman for Uber even more. Not only was it a fun ride but it was always a conversation piece. During one ride though we talked about more than Minis, we talked about guns and the Constitution of the United States of America. The role that guns play in the landscape of the country and the role the government should have in the handling and use of guns.
As the conversation continued, he added and to which I was completely unaware, “Jamaica has the highest murder rate per capita!” Well, “what does that have to do with me,” I thought to myself! I guess he thought he would change my love for Jamaica. Is he just another naysayer that does not have the grit to get up and move to another country and is taking it out on me and Jamaica?
Later that night, I decided to look up the exact meaning of “per capita,” and just as I suspected, per capita means per person, so based on the population the murder rate is high for the number of people on this large, beautiful island. Whereas the per capita murder rate in New York City is not as high because there are more people in one area of the state but not in the overall landmass (or state in this case).
I just wonder, why! First, why do we have to make light of Jamaica’s murder rate? It does not tell the whole story! But it also begs the question: how is a country that is built on Christian principles and still remains very Christian struggling with a higher murder rate? I have many suggestions, I think one reason is that young people are misled, they are misled that there is a better life elsewhere, like the U.S. and they are misinformed, misinformed about their understanding of the world. In many cases, their understanding is quite limited, aside from the access provided through technology, and yet that is a very small picture of reality, and of humanity for that matter. In general, without concerted efforts to educate oneself, overall, the misinformation abounds.
But ask a Jamaican about the cows coming home and I guarantee they will know what that means. The cows do in fact come home every night neighing their way down the same path around the same time. The cows near my home have the same routine and path, no human comes out and says, “ok cows, time to come home now.” They literally walk approximately a mile a day to bigger fields down the hill (in front of my community and seen in the below video) each morning and back up the hill at nightfall. Going up the hill means going past my community. My home is about 100 feet from the fence that separates their pathway from my home. When there is a wonderful evening breeze and I find myself on the verandah in my hammock, or leaving my community and I get the sweet chance to pull up to the street light next to the cow and hear and see the cows! It is the best! Except when they are in my way! (Pardon my french in the video).
As our conversation continued about the constitution and guns and how to resolve the murder problem in Jamaica, the rider continued sharing that Canada had successfully completed an amnesty program and that perhaps Jamaica can follow such business practices. I do not know how I feel about that. I believe that guns are intended for protection and should only be in the hands of law-abiding citizens. I do understand a variety of social forms that could positively influence the murder rate and illegal gun problem. I know removing guns from people is not necessarily the answer. Think about the dynamic of power if only the military and law enforcement had weapons. But then look at the murder rate at the hands of law enforcement in the U.S. and again, this begs yet another question: what do guns (the power that comes from carrying a gun) and the responsibility of possessing a gun (the power that comes from whatever position is held and gives power) do to people? Or maybe I should reword the question for clarity:
What happens in a person when the collision of injustice and the power of the possession of a weapon collide leading to murder?
This seems way deeper than just laws and amnesty, of course. This could be about a misplaced need for personal power. Men who have lost their real power are making up for lost time with irrational forms of false power. Certainly, we all need power (I wrote about power in this blog post). If you have not carried a weapon, perhaps you may not quite understand the responsibility and power that comes with carrying a weapon. Since leaving the military, I have carried a pistol for a good portion of my civilian life. Different areas of responsibility, yes, but the power from carrying a weapon in any context exists in the same manner.
We are getting close to the connection of cows coming home and guns and power.
The one thing that remains is the cows do come home. It is innate. Just like power is innate, I believe that we all must have the power to create and become who we are. But when these powers are retarded, things get ugly. When the external powers of possessing a deadly weapon feed into the need or desire for power leading to murder, life gets wonky (that is my mom’s favorite word and I just used it, I cannot believe it came out of my mouth).
How do we rearrange or reform the understandings of the youths and specifically, youths in Jamaica to eradicate the senseless murders of one another? While we see the challenges growing in various countries surrounding the topics of guns and young people, it is a topic that every member of society must grapple with in light of many new realities.
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