Arnie joined the army

“…To the lesser count of manslaughter”

Today I ask my editor for one of those “time-outs.” From the consequences of mis-management of the (political) economy to the daily doses of crime, traffic mayhem and corruption–related reports, I become frequently overwhelmed mentally. (So “blessings to those capable of penning daily columns and lengthy letters; some letter-writers, incidentally, submit hundreds of column-inches more than any columnist, weekly.)

So briefly – my lead piece is 95% true with just a morsel of creative fiction thrown in for literary effect.

Between fourteen and eighteen years Arnie (Arnold could be close to his actual name) was a young nuisance accommodated in and by an East Coast, Demerara village committed to preserving its history and whatever worthy it claimed to be its legacy. From the age of six Arnie was cared for and guided by two grandparents – the grandpa being sickly and infirm. Primary schooling, football skills and occasional  Sunday school could not prevent the youngster from attracting descriptions like “waif” – as in homeless and stray-child; “rascal” – as in worthless or mischievous, and “urchin” – as in the first two.

In both covert, subtle and open manner his village assisted. And somehow, Arnie never was arrested and prosecuted, though he should have been. A complete orphan by fourteen, the village chairman got the Guyana Defence Force – the GDF – to accept him into its army at eighteen–plus. Arnie’s brief “journey” into this life was to flower, then wilt, then die – literally.

Choices the army offered…

The prelude to the tragedy is that though the army, at that time, offered their recruits varied options perhaps the programmes were not as structured as best they could have been. After routine compulsory basic training, rookie soldiers could have been better guided as to wherein to specialise, when academic or professional upgrades were available as well as expert behavioural guidance and counselling. The latter programme, if available, might have rescued Arnie.

He became one of the younger military policemen in the army. Good at skill-at-arms and initially a reasonably disciplined rank, he was doing quite well before he succumbed to temptation. On a joint police-army patrol in his home village there were violent villager – forces encounters. After one aspect of that “operation” Arnie was lured into returning nights later, to a rendezvous with a few characters he grew up with. As simple as that: Arnie was shot dead by a police ambush at the planned robbery.

Any moral(s) from this mostly true tale? Well, it does take a village to raise a (parent-less) child. Behavioural change takes much longer without moralistic, sometimes faith-based guidance. The army and such institutions must also provide expert scrutiny and guidance for younger members.

Until President Granger and his youth development folks launch their national youth service in January 2018. How is that coming along?

The lesser count? For trafficking?

Believe me, more than one learned “attorney-friend” have explained to me just why judges “accept” guilty pleas for unlawful killings described as manslaughter when everything pointed out in the court trial proved outright murder.

And believe me, my simple layman’s but law-abiding mind always bristles at the legalities and the court’s judicial discretion. Then my own two personal understandings stay with me: As years pass and outrage over savage murders subsides, full equitable justice is “tempered”.

Consider this scenario: the recidivist bandit breaks into your granny’s bedroom, brutalises her whilst saying he had long planned to get her savings, then chops her to death. In front of grown grandchildren.

So we had a repeat convict, premeditated intent, witnesses, evidence, no remorse by the wretched accused. Suddenly it’s not murder. As they say – you go figure.

Reluctantly, I might even assist you. We are, you see, civilised. So we must not take lives like convicted bandits do. God – the Christian Creator especially – teaches forgiveness. Some victims still alive prefer something called “closure” not full justice. Would-be killers are pleased. (Guess my position…) Then again we have signed on to the conventions. Capital crimes cannot attract capital punishment.

More law that befuddles poor me. When the accused is actually found with proven cocaine or marijuana, how do investigators decide that the quantities are always “for the purposes of trafficking”? Sheer quantity? In my next life I might study law. Discuss…

Observe, ponder…

1) Just observe how the Commander-in-Chief is instructing, ordering the Opposition Leader with respect to the GECOM Chair issue. Ho-ho?

2)  After 18 names, could it all backfire?

3) Recent good news! Successful birth in GDF aeroplane; success at South American Under-20 athletics; Under-15 football Caribbean Champs! How we need some positives.

4)  Build the new vendors mall on the old Stabroek Co-op Bank site now!

’Til next week!


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