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OFF CENTRE: Missing our own demons

Sherwyn Walters

OFF CENTRE: Missing our own demons

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Many Barbadians, especially older ones, got demons. I say so.
So if Jones was in trouble – look out, Walters.
A little background here. Some weeks ago, Minister of Education Ronald Jones was quoted in the newspaper as saying: “Until many of our young people are cleansed of demons that are in their souls we will continue to get that type of (deviant) behaviour.”
And all hell seems to have broken loose.
When asked if the minister should have used a different word, Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of Barbados Dr John Holder (on Page 13A of the SUNDAY SUN of October 9) said: “No . . . If he had said that children are bad-behaved, people would have said: ‘Yeah, I heard that many times before.’ But when he used ‘demon’, everybody sat up.”
Yes, they sat up – and attacked the minister and the word. And that is a demon (whether figurative or literal, I know that it is a strong impelling force in many people and it is very dangerous).
DEMON: Failure to see the wood for the trees. Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel, according to Jesus.
Now tell me, after you spend your time pillorying Jones, how have you contributed to the tackling of the problems?
Even if he was wrong, shouldn’t you make that a side note and proceed to offer hopefully workable solutions? Not us. We like the personal attack. And then what? The man is savaged, ravaged – and? And? The problem is solved, right?
I find instructive African American writer L.Z. Granderson’s response to African Americans’ recent rage at Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry for his ownership of a property that supposedly carried the sign “Niggerhead” on a rock.
This locks-haired Granderson draws attention instead to a song called Marvin Gaye And Chardonnay.
“This is the most popular song on black radio right now”, he says. “In it, Big Sean refers to the object of his affection as ‘my b****’ while Kanye West boasts that his girl is cool because she performs oral sex while wearing shades.”
“How,” young-looking Granderson asks, “do we wave an angry finger at what Governor Rick Perry’s rock may or may not have said 20 years ago while something like Marvin Gaye And Chardonnay is happening right in front of our faces, in real time . . . .
“. . . when the hottest song on the radio encourages men to treat women like receptacles?”
And he continues: “Despite the kind of 24-hour sexiness that usually accompanies an N-word scandal like this one, the truth is that it is not the real story. It never is.
“The real story is if the black community doesn’t find a way to heal ourselves from these self-inflicted wounds, there won’t be much of a black community left for people like Perry to offend . . . .
“Perry’s “Niggerhead” revelation is disturbing, but if the controversy forces him out of the race tomorrow, life for black America would not be changed.”
We here got the gnat too. But there is a camel running around out there, humping the country – and our protection may be suspect. Yet my demon-possessed compatriots don’t seem to care enough.
Or is it that they feel that the problem is not a big one?
Another demon.
DEMON: “The majority of people aren’t/don’t . . .” Every so often you hear people saying – in response to complaints about the young people, in particular – that the majority of the youth are positive, upstanding, ambitious, and so on. Which is so true!
But you never need a majority to put a society or, for that matter, anything else in trouble. Perhaps less than five per cent of Barbadians have illegal guns. That makes it not a serious problem?
A more sensible concept is “critical mass”. If there are negative effects from a critical mass of anything (misbehaving juveniles, people with guns, termites in a small section of your house, whatever), you are in trouble – and while you spouting that “majority” nonsense, you letting loose a demon on others.
There are many other demons possessing Barbadians.
I have dealt with some before, and God willing, will deal with others in the future.  
In this case, the demon-possessed are those who are quibbling while home burns. And although Nero apparently did not fiddle while Rome burned, Wikipedia says: “According to Tacitus, the population searched for a scapegoat and rumours held Nero responsible. To deflect blame, Nero targeted Christians.”
Mr Jones, are you a Christian? Some quibblers and their demons are targeting you.