FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: All is not lost
Our youth generally come in for a lot of criticism for poor behaviour and poor attitude, although most of the problem, in my opinion, can be attributed to the increasing tendency of many parents to “go with the flow” and not discipline their children, as well as the bad examples shown by both parents and those in authority.
However, I had occasion to interact with a number of teenagers recently and I must say that they gave me hope for the future of our country, depending, of course, on whether they decide to live and work in Barbados, given the downward spiral we’re experiencing in most areas.
These teenagers not only excelled academically, but were also involved in a number of uplifting extra-curricular activities, demonstrating that they are able to manage their time efficiently. Some were members of Key, Optimist, chess, Interact and environmental clubs, Pathfinders, Girl Guide or Sea Scout movements, while others were members of the Cadet Corps or participants in the Duke Of Edinburgh and Junior Achievement programmes, all excellent avenues for training in discipline and skills which will serve them well in all aspects of their lives. Many were involved in volunteerism, including care of the elderly and assistance with rescued animals, which is refreshing at a time when there seems to be a growing tendency for people to “break for themselves” and ignore those around them. This trend has led to a disappearance of communities and the loss of the traditional community spirit.
Outside of school, they took part in healthy activities like sailing, kick boxing, kayaking, paddling and yoga, all of which fit well with the healthy lifestyle currently being encouraged by organisations like the Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Commission and NISE with its 100 Improvements In 100 Days programme.
It was encouraging too, that they had an appreciation for language, art, music, poetry, theatre and dance (not the wuk-up type), and were members of orchestras, choirs and dance groups. Many demonstrated their appreciation of the need to care for Planet Earth and were involved in beach clean-ups, recycling projects and so on. Most had set definite goals for themselves and were actively working towards those goals rather than merely ambling through life, accepting whatever happened to come their way.
But it was a bit disturbing, though not at all surprising, that when asked what aspects of Barbados they would focus on if they were making a presentation on their country to persons from abroad, none mentioned the political stability or the good governance of Barbados. Actually, it has been evident for some time that the younger generation is not particularly interested in matters pertaining to the running of the country. Unfortunately, the increasing regularity with which “idle talk” emanates from the mouths of politicians doesn’t bode well for attracting any admiration or desire to emulate from the youth. Furthermore, the trend of forgiving the non-payment of debt to Government – for example National Insurance, VAT and taxes – as well as its seeming acceptance of squatters, gives no incentive to honest people to honour their commitments and abide
by the law. These are dangerous precedents to set for young people, who need to be encouraged to take responsibility for their lives, rather than depending on Government or others to take care of their every need.
On the positive side, I’m glad to see emphasis and publicity via print media, radio and television being given to school sports. I was recently in a supermarket and, judging from the crowd of staff and customers around the television screen, I thought it must be an international cricket match, but soon realised it was school sports at the Stadium. I was advised though, that while positive exposure is good for promising young athletes, the tendency to push these primary school students in particular too hard can negatively affect their development in the particular sport.
Another positive activity which is becoming increasingly popular, not only with locals but with visitors as well, is the CBC Q In The Community show which is held weekly at various community bars throughout the island. The show seems to escape the vulgarity and violence that have become the norm at public events, and patrons enjoy themselves in a peaceful, congenial atmosphere.
Maybe there’s hope for Barbados after all!