Speech by the Prime Minister

12th Annual Heal the Family, Heal the Nation

Address by The Most Hon. Andrew Holness 12th Annual Heal the Family, Heal the Nation January 5, 2017 – National Arena 

Mr. Moderator, Bishop Dr. Alvin Bailey and you know I must acknowledge the governor general in his absence. He sent a very inspiring message, His Excellency Most Honorable Sir Patrick Allen. I know he is here with us in spirit. The Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller, Leader of the Opposition. The ministers of government who are here but since I am here I give them a pass – let me also acknowledge the Member of Parliament for this constituency Mr. Julian Robinson.

Now there is nothing that can touch this building or this immediate facility because the men of god who are gathered here and women, they are so powerful in spirit that no evil intention can touch anything here. Covered! So I want to greet the very powerful assembly of instruments of God who are here – you the beautiful people of the church.

Jamaicans listening in Jamaica and all over the world, I am happy to be here and may I wish for you and your family God’s richest blessings, health, happiness, prosperity for 2017. I am sure that 2017 will be a progressive year as well. Prosperity and progressiveness are not too different things. They may refer to two different processes, but they are not two different things and I’m sure all Jamaicans want a progressive society and we want a prosperous society.

There is no need to divide on that but when we talk about being progressive, forward thinking and being prosperous opening our minds to opportunities to receive the blessing of god it’s not material things alone that form prosperity. Yes you want to be able to buy one more pair of shoes, you want to be able to stop taking taxi and own your own car.  You want to be able to stop paying rent and pay mortgage, yes but you also want to be able to live in peace. You want to be able to send your child out on the road with their phone or their new pair of shoes and don’t have to worry as to whether or not they will make it back home. You want to live in a country where you can have peace of mind. And so while the material side of things are turning in the right direction by all accounts, by all measures the arrows are pointing in the right direction and I want to give God thanks. He has speared Jamaica last year from natural disaster.

Our economic program is on track. It’s tenuous, still shaky but because we have managed to stay together on this as a people the economy now seems to be moving in the right direction. But there are some issues which the economist can’t fix, the general practitioner can’t fix. There are some issues which the manager can’t fix and it starts obviously as the overall theme of this gathering Heal the Family, Heal the Nation.

Much of the generation of violence in our society comes out of the family and so we really need to start paying attention to that unit of our society called the family – the basic building block of our society. As the leader of the Opposition pointed out there seems to be an evil spirit possessing some of our men in particular that lead them to do things that can only be described as savage. I’m very perturbed and I’m here to just offload on you the church how I feel about this thing and to ask for your prayers and your support because my school motto “prayer and work conquers all”.

So there is some work that obviously the government has to do but there is some praying that I really need the church to do; the spiritual invocation and empowerment of an intervention to make a transformative change in this country. Heal the family, heal the nation. I think there will have to be in this country a separation of the criminals from the law abiding citizens.

I want you to listen to me carefully. The criminal is a family member of someone who is probably sitting in this room. The criminal has a mother, a brother, a sister, a girlfriend and a wife or both. The criminal is connected in our family and our society but you know the lesson from the bible is that when God is about to make transformative actions he finds a way to protect his people to separate them. In fact he sent prophets to warn his people- separate yourselves from the criminals.

As Christians we believe in the blood of Jesus Christ, in the blood of the lamb and as the examples goes throughout scripture we mark that on our door as a means of separating ourselves. There is no doubt that the government cannot continue to talk about what it is going to do to address crime. Crime is the greatest threat to our economy. It is the greatest threat to our prosperity. It is the greatest threat to Jamaica being a progressive nation but more than that it is the greatest threat to your family.

My heart goes out to the mother of that Calabar youngster and before that the JC youngster and we can go on and on and on of how families are grieving because of some evil force in our country has deprived them of a loved one or a breadwinner but we can’t continue in our society where when we act you have people coming out to defend the criminals. We can’t continue as a society that when we act you’re hearing that this was a good man, a protector of the community. The only protector of the community must be the government of Jamaica, the police force and Jesus Christ the almighty saviour.

We don’t need any dons and criminals to protect us. Now is not a time when there must be any separation politically in terms of our unity in addressing the issues of crime and violence in Jamaica but now is the time when law abiding, God fearing Jamaicans must turn their eyes, their backs on the criminals. Don’t let them survive in your communities. Don’t give them safe haven in your community. When you see the police going out and doing their duty and the army going out and doing their duty you just keep quiet. Just stand off and watch because the same who you are defending today is going to turn around and rape your daughter and kill your son.

And I have to just say plain now. You make sure that you demonstrate to the society that you’re not in crime; that you mark the blood of Jesus over your doorway because we are going to act and I’m not saying too much but we’re going to act. Jamaica is too beautiful a place, a place where people when they hear about Jamaica they imagine paradise, for us to let a few criminals destroy what god has bequeath to us and our children.

Crime is one thing, violence is another. Some people use violence as a means of showing power and control. Some people use it as a means of revenge and still yet we in Jamaica use it as a means of correction. Somebody do you something wrong – slap them over the head. The violation of the person through physical violence is far too accepted in Jamaica. Violence is considered in many respects normal. You and somebody get into a dispute, the only way to resolve it turns out to be violent. Either you tell them a violent word, you take a stick, you take a stone, a knife but of course you know what the preferred instrument of the execution of violence is, the gun.

We have a history where physical violence was used to control us and that use of physical violence has continued. It has become the currency of our social interaction. We need to change that. We need to transform that and the first place in which we can stop the use of violence in our day to day action is in the family, in the home.

Start with how you talk to your children. You don’t have to use violence to correct them. I know its running counter to what we have been taught and what has been preached for decades and centuries in Jamaica but that violence start as little violence and then it graduate to big violence and you can trace it back, the son who was brutally corrected often times turn out to be the son who is the abusive spouse. We have to get to this very basic level of understanding that violence in beating for correction and disciplining a child is no different from violence in trying to control a loved one or a spouse when they do something that you don’t like is violence. That is at the root of our society- how we use violence.

We will have to find other means of a society in how we deal with conflict and that is why we are training in schools other methods of behavior management. That is why we have put in place the Parenting Commission to help parents to find other ways of disciplining and controlling their children other than the use of violence through corporal punishment and that is why will have to take very firm action against any report of domestic abuse. That is why will have to train our police force. They are already trained but we will have to increase the training in spotting and dealing with right away issues of domestic abuse.

I came here today just to offload on you because this is the church, this is God’s people. You are the ones who can make change in our society. If all of you here decide you know what I’m not going to beat my child anymore, I’m going to reason with them. It’s difficult but I’m going to commit to reasoning with them; we start to build a reasoning society which then turns into a reasonable society which means that the level of irrationality, criminality, abuse and savagery that is being exercised in our nation will be reduced. You here gathered have the power to change.

I just thought I would share those few words with you. My grandmother used to say if life spare. Nothing is certain and that you must always give thanks for what you have received. God has speared our lives to see 2017 and we give God thanks and we thank him for the blessing. I know there will be a change in Jamaica.

God bless you church.