EDITORIAL: The price of freedom
WE HAVE heard it said more than once that no man is an island. That statement was made centuries ago by a cleric whose perspective caused him to contemplate how connected we are as human beings and how the impact of events far removed from our immediate circumstances affect us even if we do not acknowledge it.
Last week, the truth of this ancient truth came directly into our minds when it was disclosed that there is evidence that at least 200 men women and children from one CARICOM member state have migrated to Syria to join Islamic State, commonly known as ISIS.
This disturbing disclosure came from executive director of the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, Francis Forbes, who went on to inform a panel discussion, which was part of a global crisis workshop held here at the local Radisson Aquatica hotel, that this development could be a problem for the region in the future.
Even more disturbing was his declaration that the figure could be higher since no one knows for sure the exact number and identification of these ISIS volunteers, and that some of these volunteers have already returned home having found the going a bit too rough. But since many of them having already been trained in terrorist tactics and strategies, the forecast of possible future problems cannot be ignored.
Until now the conflicts in the Middle East have had little direct impact upon most of our daily activities but the ISIS threat is probably not far removed from our region because of two major issues. The ideology of the ISIS group has a religious and ethnic base which resonates among some small sections of the Caribbean populations who may identify with the recruiting rhetoric and messaging of the ISIS outreach, especially by electronic means.
The ease with which Caribbean people can travel from one island to another suggests that if the radical ISIS ideology catches root within one of our countries, it may with little difficulty travel to others within the region.
We are sure that our local authorities are watching these developments with great care, and even though they cannot speak in detail about the measures which are in place to monitor these situations, we venture to suggest that the battle for the minds of our young people needs a steady and ongoing response.
The price of freedom is said to be eternal vigilance, but that vigilance must now include the use of information techniques to instruct our people about the value systems which our region upholds as the foundation for respect and tolerance for the views and rights of our citizens.
We must constantly draw attention to the foundational rights such as the rule of law, and freedom of speech and association among other things, as opposed to the arbitrary dictates of some ruling group or dictator.
Many of these things we take for granted and are surprised when fertile minds are corrupted by messages which suggest that the grass is greener on the other side.
We know that effective border control and surveillance methods are constantly being upgraded and while we are confident that our vital security concerns are on the national front burner, we are now part of a global village in which the cultural penetration of alien ideas can be a serious challenge for some young minds. We must arm those minds with the capacity to resist these insidious temptations.