Put Al on Matthew’s case

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Carolyn Cooper is a con­sul­tant on cul­ture and de­vel­op­ment. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com and karokupa@gmail.com. Daniel Th­waites is an at­tor­ney-at­law. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

BY THE time you’re read­ing this, I’m hop­ing the storm will have tracked off course. But with the news last Fri­day that Matthew was skip­ping up the mea­sures of po­ten­tial de­struc­tive­ness and was a strength­en­ing Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane steam­ing to­wards Ja­maica, I’m in enough of a panic to humbly ask the Rev Al Miller to get back to the prayer work and re­di­rect the storm.

I’m not afraid to say sorry and beg a ‘bly’. Please, Al, send it to go and mash up some­where else.

In fact, I’m freely ad­mit­ting that I may need to re­vise cer­tain doubts and dis­be­liefs. It can’t be mere co­in­ci­dence that this storm named af­ter Matthew the Evan­ge­list ap­peared in the Caribbean so soon af­ter Al’s con­vic­tion in court and sub­se­quent thrash­ing in the court of pub­lic opin­ion. Per­cep­tive ob­servers will know that ‘sump’m inna sump’m’.

And just like Al has changed his mind and de­cided to ap­peal his con­vic­tion, I’m chang­ing my mind and send­ing up an ap­peal to Who­ever he can talk to on our be­half. Al may be wrong and strong, but Matthew is stronger and wronger. I don’t care any­more about the po­lice chase down the high­way af­ter Ja­maica’s O.J. Simp­son. If the prayer works, it works. So (in my best Johnny Cochrane voice), if the hur­ri­cane doesn’t hit, you must ac­quit!

Speak­ing of di­vert­ing the storm, it’s not that I want to wish crosses on to Cuba or Haiti, but let’s face it: Cuba is bet­ter or­gan­ised, and Haiti would get lots more money from in­ter­na­tional donors so that the Red Cross peo­ple can go there and have an­other ball. Re­mem­ber the hor­rific earth­quake that dev­as­tated Haiti in 2010? They raised a half-bil­lion US dol­lars and man­aged to build six houses out of it. Six!

But even so, I’m par­don­ing Cuba and Haiti. So Bredda Al, don’t even look that side.


I mean, it’s in­vid­i­ous to be forced to sug­gest a tar­get, but I want to be very spe­cific with the re­quest to Rev Al. So here goes: All things con­sid­ered, I’m propos­ing the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. They have been get­ting up to some fiendish be­hav­iour re­cently, and it war­rants a good cleans­ing. In 2013, their Supreme Court es­sen­tially made all Do­mini­cans of Haitian de­scent born since 1930 state­less. Now pause and think about that for a mo­ment. Not even Dudus waan drive go desso.

On the other hand, I know we have such a se­ri­ous mur­der­ous dis­as­ter go­ing on in Mon­tego Bay that it fairly can be said that cat­a­clysm is al­ready upon us. Could that be why the eye of the storm is on the other end of the is­land? Or is that Al is aim­ing at the doubt­ing St Thomases? I don’t know. I’m just ask­ing the ob­vi­ous ques­tions.

To be hon­est, I have al­ways been of the view that Al was act­ing on or­ders from a higher power and say­ing, “Here I am, Lord!”, at least in the Driv­ing Miss Dudus mat­ter. But he has stead­fastly re­fused to divulge ex­actly who that might be, even when ev­ery­one has their sus­pi­cions. Let’s just say that the or­der­ing over­lord would have known

IIthat Dudus was in St Ann and would have had the where­withal to pro­vide Al with in­struc­tions, safe pas­sage through any of Dudus’ body­guards, and a car.

Well, ap­par­ently, it would be an­other storm if Al would ac­tu­ally come clean. And I’m will­ing to en­ter­tain the idea that maybe the coun­try can’t man­age even an­other one right now.

Ac­tu­ally, and in all se­ri­ous­ness, had I be­lieved Al a few years ago when he said he had di­rected the path of a hur­ri­cane away from the is­land, I would be now forced to draw the con­clu­sion that it’s his fault the na­tion is cur­rently un­der threat. Af­ter all, to have such a power is to also to as­sume a tremen­dous re­spon­si­bil­ity.


Of course, a real con­cern is not just the storm but also the af­ter­math when civilised so­ci­ety could very well take a lit­tle hol­i­day. Roads be­come im­pass­able, the po­lice and emer­gency ser­vices are stretched to ca­pac­ity, and the weak be­come acutely vul­ner­a­ble.

When that hap­pens, there are count­less acts of gen­eros­ity and kind­ness, but also the po­ten­tial for much havoc. And al­though it is unpleasant to con­tem­plate such things, a lit­tle alarm may has­ten prepa­ra­tion.

I can’t for­get be­ing in New York in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Sandy when gaso­lene and cof­fee, the two ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties of mod­ern life, be­came scarce. Within nanosec­onds, there were fights hap­pen­ing in the long lines stretch­ing out­side the gas sta­tions. It was a stark re­minder that civilised be­hav­iour is a pa­per-thin ve­neer on some very an­i­mal­is­tic im­pulses. I my­self had to con­sider direct in­ter­ven­tion and even a dec­la­ra­tion of ji­had when an in­fi­del cut off my ac­cess in the cof­fee line.

More dra­mat­i­cally, I have an ex-army friend – a bar­bar­ian – whose chil­dren had raised con­cerns about his un­will­ing­ness to head to the su­per­mar­ket and stock up. He had to pa­tiently ex­plain to them the fun­da­men­tals of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence out­side of Chris­tian and civilised pro­hi­bi­tion. Es­sen­tially, he let them know that should so­ci­ety col­lapse, it wouldn’t re­ally mat­ter that he didn’t have cans and dried goods, be­cause the neigh­bours had lots, and they would be cer­tain to ‘share’.

Now look­ing at our own home, it’s quite clear that the State isn’t par­tic­u­larly strong and ef­fec­tive, and an­ar­chy is never too far from the sur­face, even when the weather is per­fectly fine.

This is why, Al’s prayers and bene­dic­tions notwith­stand­ing, I’m wish­ing us all luck and is­su­ing the re­minder that the Good Lord helps those who help them­selves.

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