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IT REALLY would not be difficult today to point fingers at the Democratic Labour Party Government and place squarely on its shoulders blame for the violence that is too quickly becoming the norm in our society.
Yes, it would be easy, but would it be right? We would be less than honest in our handling of the facts if we did not acknowledge that the current economic situation, which has retarded both the employment and education opportunities of too many of our youth, was contributing to the illegal paths some of them have taken.
And we cannot pronounce on the poor performance of our economy without linking it to many of the less than prudent decisions of the Freundel Stuart administration. But it would be folly not to pay careful attention to the fact that while faced with the same set of circumstances, the vast majority struggle through the game with the hand they have been dealt, while a very small minority chooses to terrorise the country.
It is on this point that we find merit in the position taken by the Prime Minister as he addressed his party’s 60th annual conference on Sunday. It is the influence – or perhaps more appropriately, lack of influence – of many of our valued institutions in today’s environment that is at the root of the gun violence facing Barbados.
“Children do not run societies, adults do; parents, teachers, political and religious leaders must take back control upstream if we are going to arrest the present slide. When the police are asked to get involved, the damage has already been done and the failure has already take root,” Mr Stuart said.
“We all have a role to play in defending our families and communities from the erosion of values that results in the kind of wanton behaviour that threatens all we have worked so hard to create over the years.”
That’s the crux of the problem. Too many of the leaders in our society, not just the political leaders, have abandoned their responsibilities and have left our youth to themselves – to their own devices. We will never arrest this problem if we are not prepared to do the right things, to tell our youth that regardless of the economic or social challenges they face, violence in support of robbery or any other illicit activity is wrong.
And while we agree 100 per cent with the Barbados Labour Party’s candidate for St Peter that it is time the Prime Minister and key operatives of the Government appreciate that political platforms are not the place for pronouncements on some critical national issues like this one, we still have to be careful we don’t appear to be giving comfort to brazen criminals.
There is a time coming when Prime Minister Stuart and his political partners will have to account for their actions, or lack thereof, but in the interim, we have to make sure we let the criminal elements know that across the board, we frown on their behaviour, regardless of our political colour.
We have also, with equal vigour, regardless of our political platform, to tell those who support them, aid and abet them, profit from their crime and violence or simply turn a blind eye to their criminality that we are on the same page – they will receive no quarter from us. We can no longer afford to excuse “wuflessness”.