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November 16, 2012
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No preaching on buses, it's about time!

Earlier this week, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, managing director of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), banned preaching from the buses. As was expected, it started a new conversation about whether his action was fair. Frankly speaking, I applaud the move.

There is a feeling among Christians in Jamaica, some Christians that is, that they must impose their beliefs on everyone. It has something to do with spreading the gospel to every corner of the earth, they say. It's kind of like how the Crusaders used to go around and burn people at the stake calling them heretics if they didn't accept the Lord Jesus Christ.

These people on the buses, while they're not burning you, they're annoying you to death.

Look, when I used to take the bus many years ago, either when I was going to work or leaving work, all I wanted to do is be alone with my thoughts sorting my day out or thinking about dinner or trying to figure out how I could stretch my paltry salary so that I could pay my rent and utilities and still find enough bus fare and money for food. Or sometimes, as I had a right to do, I just wanted some peace and quiet. The last thing I wanted to hear was some overzealous 'preacher' shouting about hell and damnation or whatever other religious rhetoric that comes to mind.

A few radio and television stations posed the question this week on Facebook about whether it was right for preachers to be banned from buses and there were some people that felt that as long as it was about the Word of God, people should be allowed to preach. Let me pose this question to them. If you were on a bus and a Muslim, Buddhist or atheist stood up and started to 'preach' about their beliefs, how would they respond, especially if your bus ride was a long one? Just because you are religious doesn't give you the right to abuse other people's rights. This is the same kind of thinking that has led to churches not paying taxes and their pastors getting away with all kinds of evil.

lyrically decadent crap

That being said, I wish that ban on preachers would be extended to other buses in the public transport system on which the drivers and conductors play appallingly loud the lyrically decadent crap that these days that passes for music and blasts out of sound systems usually found inside the dancehall. I do believe that they were banned a few years ago and if that is the case, why are we hearing them again? That is a big part of the problem we have in Jamaica when it comes to laws. When a law is passed, for the first few weeks there is a major crackdown on those who choose to flout it but after a while, everything goes back to 'normal'.

I took a bus in London a few years ago and it almost felt unnatural. It was quiet. The bus was full but for a few hushed conversations, it was as quiet as a tomb and you know what, it was extremely refreshing.

Maybe we could try that sometime. Maybe we could try to experience what it feels like to be in an environment where noise is absent. Trust me, it's not as bad as it sounds. Maybe then we could start to read books again, or develop great ideas or something; things that would make taking the bus not such a bloody nightmare for those people who just want to be alone with themselves for just a little while.

Send comments to levyl1@hotmail.com



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