R. Rose
April 9, 2013

Let’s not be swamped by the malaise

It has been quite a while now since my column last appeared, or at least so it seems to me. This has been on account of the disruptions to the publication of the Midweek edition, due to shortened work weeks, occasioned by a number of holidays. It has caused several readers, not clear about the situation, to inquire whether I had ceased writing the column. By way of explanation, it is important to know that when SEARCHLIGHT took the initiative to publish the second edition, I willingly volunteered to shift from the Weekend to the Midweek edition, (after all, somebody had to make the jump), it is just that when we have shortened weeks, the Midweek, and my column with it, is affected.{{more}}

Having got that out of the way, though a lot of issues have been swirling around in the society, my continuing big disappointment is our approach to them. There is a definite deficiency in the level of public debate, with the emphasis seeming to be on the finger-pointing, rumour-mongering “whodunnit”, rather than any deep analysis and attempt to solve our problems.

Take the deeply disturbing trend of police officers having to be arrested and charged with all kinds of criminal offences as an example. This says volumes about our society, the recruitment process for police officers, and the state of the Police Force itself. Sadly, instead of a collective examination of what is leading to this deplorable state of affairs, police-bashing is the more popular response. That is but a reflection on the general response to our social and economic challenges.

Clearly, there is much that is going awry in our society. But we are not unique in this. The shame and the disgrace swirling around the Police Force as a result of the actions of a minority are not confined to St Vincent and the Grenadines. Those of our citizens who try to keep abreast with what is going on even in neighbouring countries will know that there are a lot of similarities, in some cases far worse occurrences, around the Caribbean. That is no excuse for what is happening here, or no reason to be complacent, but it is a symptom of a deeper malaise which is swamping our region.

That malaise is also manifested in the aberrant social behaviour of some of our young people. The scandals surrounding the anti-social activities around the Inter-Schools Sports and the Easter boat-ride to Bequia are by now well broadcast and the self-righteous among us will no doubt be casting our own “holy” stones. But for all the outrage expressed, we have yet to try, collectively, to get to the bottom of all of this, attempt to analyse what is happening to our society, and embark on the long hard road of redemption.

At the same time, it is vital that we not lose our sense of balance. Our media is skewed towards highlighting our defects, with our successes and achievements very often on the bottom shelf. One can therefore get the impression that it is all hell and damnation, total gloom and doom. Yet there is also the positive, but if these are not given prominence, what models would our young people follow?

We talk a lot about young people, but do not do enough to involve them in a meaningful way in national development. We are having a big national debate on acclaiming National Heroes, but where is this in the school calendar? How are we helping to inculcate and advance a sense of national consciousness in our young people when they are not even on the periphery of our debate?

We are not ever going to get it right unless we tackle our problems at the source, set aside the salacious gossiping, and begin the search for lasting solutions to our problems.

Renwick Rose is a

community activist

and social com-mentator.