Since mankind decided to end the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and engage in farming 12,000 years ago, we adopted new ways of living. We put aside the concept that only the mightiest will survive – the law of the jungle. After all, the best farmer is seldom the bravest hunter. And so we became civilised.
Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero
With civilisation, we developed a set of rules that allowed humans to coexist peacefully in a society with large numbers, compared to small hunting units. How we treat each other is a social contract with our civilised society, guided by our moral compass: our conscience.
Jose Oliveros Febres-Cordero
Humans are emotional beings. Negative emotions such as greed and anger can harm others and break down societies if not reigned in. What keeps us from being angry and violent, acting without care on lust and greed, is our emotional intelligence.
UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Emotional intelligence is knowing that your emotions are running high and need to be controlled or expressed in a manner that will not cause harm to one’s self or others. It is an often overlooked part of personal development. We try to raise our intelligence quotient and judge who will be successful based on how smart they are. But a high emotional intelligence quotient is associated with success more than a high IQ.
Jose Antonio Oliveros
It is emotional intelligence why we don’t act violently when angry or sexually assault those we lust after. Emotional intelligence maintains healthy interpersonal relationships and a stable, peaceful society
Even in societies governed by religious rules – whether dharma, the t en c ommandments, the beatitudes or sharia law – the split second that we control how we react to a situation is governed by our emotional intelligence. Knowing right from wrong is not enough. We must be able to control the negative emotions that naturally reside in our hearts
Recently, a young man lost his life in a most vile manner because he splashed a pedestrian. A family mourns while the rest of us try to understand how a mob could commit such a senseless murder. Were they evil people before the attack? Serial criminals with no place in a civilised society because they habitually preyed upon the weak and defenceless as in the law of the jungle? Or will their actions come as a surprise to those who knew them well?
What motivates a mob lynching? How does one decide to abandon society’s rules and administer jungle justice then go back to regular programming after “justice” has been dispensed?
Mob killings are all too familiar in Jamaica. We know of praedial larcenists, petty thieves, and rapists being lynched when caught
Lynching of blacks in the US was still common up to fairly recent times. In most instances, the lynch mob comprised regular citizens without any criminal patterns. They felt justified in the way they acted because of the ‘crimes’ of the victims. These crimes caused anger to explode into unhinged, violent actions
The mob feeds off the energy of the individual members who often attempt to outdo each other in acts of cruelty. The eruption of emotions and the violent consequences overwhelm any emotional intelligence attempting to be empathetic and restrained
Splashing someone becomes a crime, the spark in the tinderbox. Because we are so lacking in emotional intelligence, we allow unbridled anger to cause a physical altercation. We see someone who splashed a friend fighting that friend. An even bigger crime. The anger is uncontrollable, and because we lack the emotional intelligence to consider the consequences, we intervene and stab the perpetrator
Others join in, fuelled by anger and with no inner voice of calm or reason. And before long, we are feeding off each other’s anger and the resistance of the victim. The deed is done. A family mourns. The good in us re-emerges, and when the emotions have subsided and IQ tells us what we have done, only then do we realise what we have done
LOW EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Low emotional intelligence is responsible for a significant portion of our crime problem. Rape, manslaughter, theft, assaults, and other acts that were not premeditated often happen because we can’t control ourselves when we experience strong, negative emotions
Many arguments could be avoided if we only understood that the only thing we can control about a situation is our response to it. Emotional intelligence can be developed once we are mindful of its existence
If we stop to think for a second before we respond to what we are suddenly and strongly feeling, there would be fever beatings, killings, rapes, and less stealing and shouting in Parliament
It is natural to get angry, impatient, or lustful. But somehow, we as Jamaicans have lost the ability to control our emotions
We honk as soon as the light turns green, curse everyone who offends us, create new lanes of traffic, and sexually harass women who we find attractive
For us to move forward as a nation, we need to look within ourselves and improve our emotional intelligence. The impulses we must learn to control arrive quicker than the police. The contract we have with our civilised society to obey its laws and to treat each other with empathy cannot be policed externally
We don’t need divine intervention to solve crime. God gave us a moral compass and rules that if followed, would lead to a contented life in a civilised society
The intervention we need is as a people to learn about emotional intelligence and how to improve our own
– Dr Alfred Dawes is a general, laparoscopic, and weight-loss surgeon; Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; former senior medical officer of the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital; former president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association. @dr_aldawes. Email feedback to [email protected] and [email protected]