What does a nation do when its annual highlight season of the calendar is marred by senseless violence?
It looks like our nation is doing nothing.
Massive social media outrage. Facebook prayer posts from ministers. A few articles in the newspaper. Swept under the carpet. Business continues as usual. Nothing to see here.
I remember how my heart immediately sank when I received links to the Nation News updates on two violent events that occurred during Jump-Up day. My family and many good friends were on the road last Monday and fortunately I had already heard of their safe return home before I got wind of the news. The first thought that came to mind was ‘Gosh… Spring Garden on Kadooment day is worst time to have a tragedy like this take place.’ And then what followed after was an intense anger.
What continues to bother me is that it would seem my nation’s young men have lost all sense of duty and honour toward their fellow citizens. How was that even allowed to happen? What transpired on Kadooment day is only an ugly amalgamation of what has been taking place time and time again across this island and that is a sickening thought. When young men, for whatever reason, convince themselves to open fire in a crowd, wounding fifteen plus, one being a child of six years old and killing a twenty year old, makes me wonder why more hasn’t been done to rectify this issue of gun-violence in our land. This type of extreme violence has even been evidenced in the most trivial of crimes; ATM robbery, a mature woman scared half to death by two young men and then they decide to shot her as if fear was not enough. Who is teaching this level of depravity to our young men? And where are all of these streets guns coming from? Why are our teen boys in khaki short pants, posing in school bathrooms with guns in hand, showing off their ‘thug life’? Where are the repercussions for this kind of behaviour? So many questions but seemingly not enough concrete answers.
The perpetrators of the Kadooment Day crimes must understand the significance of this festival to our nation. It is the proverbial ‘last egg in our basket’, the flagship tourist attraction, and celebration of the end of a crop that has been long overlooked in our fields. They must understand the kind of waves their actions will have across all spheres of our livelihood? Imagine a Barbados that has lost its highest yearly revenue earning season to a child with a gun. As ridiculous as that sounds, it can be a possible future if more is not done about street guns in the hands of our young men. That act on Kadooment day was not a frivolous one and it should not be taken frivolously either. The immediate result of it, also put on full display another crippled area in our nation – healthcare, with Queen Elizabeth Hospital issuing an emergency statement due to the number of causalities in A&E. One issue reveals another and the ripple effects continue. These are the sore spots in our nation that need to be addressed swiftly with more than budget cuts, tax hikes, a constipated judicial system and slaps on the wrist.
From the articles I have read, our government is well aware that the events on Kadooment day were not taking lightly by its people. Never before have I heard such cries for capital punishment to turn the tables of fear around on those who commit these crimes. This is how outraged our citizens are! Our people are tired of being the victims of a few lawless young men for their efforts at gaining clout or status. We may be a sheep nation (biblical reference) but we are NOT sheep for the shearing at the hand of criminals. We need better protection and more effective systems to curtail the rising level of crime, especially senseless crime, in Barbados. The Police Force do their best but appear to be stretched thin. Lord knows the added challenges that our nation would face if our citizens decided to ‘seek their own justice’ like in that Nicholas Cage movie. I am in no way inciting more violence, or going against the law. It does not need to go that far. But what I think could be a better alternative is to have our nation takes hold of its youth once again, committing to changing our communities together. Idealistic but worth a try! Someone must at least know who these young men are? Where they live and go to school? Before they become the criminals of tomorrow, we must be more vigilant to teach them today. This is the time we need to see some affirmation actions being taken toward this madness that is fast becoming trend.
Can we consider more stringent and heavily enforced laws toward the many blocks popping up on our streets corners? Why are these largely illegal structures allowed to be erected in residential areas, completely immune to the law? It is on many of these blocks that lawlessness is harboured but we know that already. Yet, they still stand? Dem ain’t even getting tax hard? Where are the opportunities and systems for unemployed young men to do more than just waste their lives languishing on corners? We have laws on our guns, so why are so many on the streets? Where is the leak? Can we find creative ways to use this ‘untapped resource’ or do we only get creative when tourism is involved? And after the ideas come, can we actually have ACTION! No doubt reasonable actions can be found and implemented by both parties involved here: the government and its citizens but it must be a duo-effort. Changing a nation is way beyond partisan and cannot be seen as one party’s responsibility over the other. I pray we out-grow that mentality before the next coming elections. I will end by echoing the sentiments of our Prime Minister: This is our home, we need a compounded front to win this battle against gun violence in Barbados.
So we gine do someting bout it now? #JCMD