Dr. Fraser- Point of View
July 12, 2013

Now it’s back to reality

Well carnival is over. Of course there was the good, the bad and the ugly, but plenty madness too. A few women went overboard in their manner of dress. As usual, there were those who saw it fit to pee anywhere; some drivers seemed to have gone stone crazy and the pedestrians appeared to have been under the impression that once they were in sight of the pedestrian crossing, they had the right of way, regardless of what else was happening, even if they were being stopped by police directing traffic.{{more}} We find an easy way out by blaming a lot of this apparent madness on the festivity, but to a large extent some of the offenders are giving impulse to their inner feelings that will allow them to blur the distinction between decency and indecency and to raise questions in one’s mind about morality and immorality. Some women had as their objective ‘outmachoing’ the men by, among other things, showing that they could consume as much alcohol as they do or even more than them. There are stories of young girls after some shows lying ‘stone drunk’ on the ground in different places and in different stages of ‘dress or undress’. Although Carnival provides the opportunity, it is the society that we need to examine.

One of the areas the authorities have to look at carefully is that of traffic. The major problem with traffic in Kingstown has to do with the pedestrians. We need to teach the proper way of using the pedestrian crossings. Drivers stop to allow pedestrians to cross, but once they have crossed, others come on from either side of the pedestrian crossings and with the crowds in town for Carnival it was possible to spend many minutes there waiting on a chance to drive past. At times one has to literally bulldoze one’s way across or risk spending an eternity trapped at the crossing. A lady driving a rented vehicle, not aware that anything goes here, spent almost an eternity trying to drive across and was forced to move only when vehicles behind her started tooting their horns. This certainly was madness. Some years ago there were two sets of pedestrian crossings at the intersection of Singer and the old NCB and also at the area of Kentucky and the Banfield service station. There is now only one pedestrian crossing in those areas, but pedestrians operate as though two still exist and I believe, in some cases, they genuinely do not know. This is something the police should look at.

The point I want to make is that many of these things do not suddenly make their appearance at Carnival. They have become part of us, but manifest themselves more glaringly with the crowds in town and from the effect of the overconsumption of alcohol. The season is now over, but all of this will appear again next year, though in a more extreme form. Carnival is a time for masks, but it is not only the physical mask at play. There is also the invisible one that surfaces when persons take on different personas, either through ‘drink’ or anything else that allows them to suspend the real being.

The Education Issue

On another note, one of the major things now facing parents would be that of providing for their children to go to school. There are books and other necessities and clothes to be bought. Money has to be found for food and transportation for those who go to school away from the community in which they live. This has always been a headache and would be even more so, given our economic state.

The newspapers at the end of June proudly announced that over six hundred students graduated from the Community College. This is, of course pleasant news, but as we reflect on it, it is at the same time frightening. Some of these, a small minority, would of course go off to university or some other tertiary level institution. But then, what happens to the hundreds that would not be able to do so, either because they cannot afford to or because they have not met the requirements for going on, or for some other reason? I was told today of an individual with passes at either GCE or CXC who is totally frustrated and is willing to accept any job, regardless of how menial it might appear for one having a secondary education. The irony of this is that even those who go off to university are finding themselves in a similar situation, returning after graduation, but experiencing difficulty finding jobs. This is cause for concern, especially with the serious investment that parents make in their children’s university education. I am of the view that as a society we are not giving this the kind of urgent attention that it deserves. An individual is made to understand that education is a passport to a better life and so significant investments are made in this area. Unless employment is found, they are likely to turn to crime or indulge in all sorts of anti-social behaviour. So, it is not only a serious matter, but an urgent one, for a year from now there will be hundreds of others to cater to and this will add to the cycle already in place. The youngsters have, at the same time, to realise that they cannot just sit back and allow things to be handed to them, because that is not likely to happen. They have to wake up and begin to assert themselves and to ask serious questions about the society in which they live. That is the only way.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.