The current murder rate in St Vincent and the Grenadines has caused alarm in many circles and rightly so.
Life is our most sacred gift and our society has an absolute responsibility to protect that right since after all without life no other right or privilege of living in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) can be enjoyed.
In the midst of this concern over violent crime in SVG, it is critical that we look anew at the moral covenant that our Vincentian community shares with all of its members.
SVG is more than a political and national community. It is also a moral community.
Virtually everyone beyond the age of eight has a sense of right and wrong. But with the exception of the churches, a debate on Vincentians’ obligations as members of a moral community is fundamentally absent in public discourse, and particularly so in our political debates.
Morality is not the exclusive domain of any faith. Rather, it is embedded within the relations of mutuality and reciprocity that hold communities together.
Often, we present our public obligations in the framework of what particular policy a government should or not pursue. But we issue no call to Vincentians on the sacred compact we must hold with each other, none more important than the care we should extend to one another.
Our silence on matters of public virtue is itself a kind of moral paralysis. We need to demand of each other that we embrace our role and responsibilities as moral agents.
We see a descent into gates of hell when murder proliferates.
But these murders are not simply the moral failures of the perpetrators. They are also the failure of the nation at large. It is often presented as a failure of governance. But that is at best the manifestation of a deeper failure – the indulgence of a Vincentian moral community that keeps silent or turns away its eyes or resists a massive government response to restore safety to all Vincentians.
So we need new concepts, new tools and a new vocabulary that pulls the community into a conversation that moves beyond victims and perpetrators and invites all of us to wear the attire of custodians of a moral order whose most unwavering principles are that we be guided by love and protection towards one another.
We should sanctify this compact not only in the churches, but by developing and articulating the emergence of a new and moral Vincentian. And such a community would replace our moral paralysis with moral action.