EDITORIAL – Taking national guard
Whenever there is a spate of crimes that assault our sensibilities, we thrash around for solutions.
So during the past week or so there have been calls to different segments of the society – the church, schools, parents – to play more decisive roles in stemming the seeming tide of lawlessness in Barbados.
These appeals seem so pregnant with nobility that one is almost hesitant to say that we must weld them to reality and significant action.
The church can claim that by calling many away from a life of “sin” it has already done a great deal to reduce crime. It is very unlikely that those who call themselves Christians, so often accused of being hypocritical, self-righteous, disconnected or even believing in the non-existent, are involved in the crimes that now have the society jittery – murder of the elderly, rape, robbery, home invasion, shooting at police officers.
Even as people call on the church to do more to save the society, they hardly ever give that institution credit for what it has already done by being the church and pursuing its own distinct mission.
The appeal to parents, though worthy, misfires – somewhat – for another reason. These pleas have been issued time and again. Yet we are where we are.
The truth is that parents face many unbridled challenges. The sectors that nobody wants to touch – radio, television, the Internet, the “culture” that is all around us – exert tremendous influence on our children. And yet, without any appetite to restrict any of these other things, people, with straight faces, facilely expect parents to conquer them on their own.
In addition, there is no way to force parents in the privacy of their own carved out existence to operate towards even the best ends. Moral suasion is useful when, at some point, it can be accompanied by situation-changing force. Parenting is not amenable to the latter.
Often, too, we hear that the schools should do this and do that. And sometimes people with their rose-tinted spectacles look back and wish for the Deighton Griffiths, the Cuffleys, the Dottins, not seeming to recognize that those principals were simply acting on the principles that the wider society accepted. These days what schools are seeking is often precisely what other sectors are resisting.
Instead of asking entities with their own very specific agendas, like the church, parents and schools, to virtually ensure the absence of certain crimes, perhaps we should seek to create powerful national tendencies towards law, order and discipline. The desired whole is indeed greater than the sum of autonomous parts.
Can you think of any national campaign in post-Independence Barbados pursued with a focused, ongoing, broad-based, systematic, multifaceted, almost-all-hands-on-deck, failure-is-not-an-option tenacity?
Only one. Crop Over. And we have seen the fruits of those efforts.
Some people posit that if the country had paid as much attention to developing a national passion for law and order and for civilizing values as we have paid to developing a passion for cultural involvement – some say, “from the waist down” – we would have far fewer worries at night, and even fewer in broad daylight.
While we realize that there is no easy way to pull our society away from disturbing criminality, it strikes us as troubling that there has never been a clear, coordinated, many-sided, ever-zealous, always-in-your-face national effort to accomplish a bedrock of respect for law and order, for others, and for property.
It’s time to take fresh guard.