Pause and reflect

The September 3rd Foundation is urging the people of Barbados to treat September 3 as a “Day of National Significance” – a special day on which the entire national population takes time out to remember Kelly-Ann Welch, Shanna Griffith, Kellishaw Ollivierre, Pearl Cornelius, Nikkita Belgrave, Tiffany Harding and all the other innocent victims of violent crime, and to reflect on the duty that we all possess to socialise, nurture and direct our young people in the correct manner!

There can be no doubt that violent crime is a serious and ever growing problem in Barbados, and that if we do not embark on effective measures to nip it in the bud, that it will eventually destroy all that is good and wholesome about our small and intimate nation.

It is the foundation’s judgement that for sometime now we Barbadians have needed a “wake-up call” to stir us out of our complacency and to get us to start grappling seriously with the many issues that are threatening to undermine the very fabric of our nation.

And surely, that “wake-up call” came in the form of the Campus Trendz Tragedy! The foundation is of the view that if the September 3, 2010 killing of six young, beautiful and totally innocent daughters of our nation does not grab the attention of the people of Barbados and focus it on the issue of violent crime, then nothing else will!

And so, this is why we established the “September 3rd Foundation”, and are now making an effort to have September 3 recognised and treated as a day of national significance.

The September 3rd Foundation is therefore hereby urging all of our members, supporters and well-wishers, and indeed all of our fellow citizens, to participate fully in the national minute of silence and/or silent prayer that is scheduled for noon on Monday September 3, 2012, and to otherwise use the day to reflect on the several sacred duties that we owe to the children and youth of Barbados.

We are particularly concerned that our current day Barbadian society has adopted and is imposing on our young people a value system that is deeply flawed and highly anti-social. It seems to us, that more and more, we are telling our youth that the measure and value of a person is determined by the size of the car that they drive, or the model of the BlackBerry or Ipad that they possess, or the cost of the “bling” around their neck. Why, even a highly respected pastor recently declared publicly that since drug pushers are driving SUV’s, that ministers of religion deserve to be driving BMW’s and Mercedes Benzes!

In other words, we are encouraging our youth to live on a thoroughly materialist plane, and are inculcating in them values of self-centredness, greed and contempt for others. This, in turn, provides an environment in which vulnerable youth can easily slip into patterns of violent, criminal, anti-social behaviour!

The September 3rd Foundation would prefer to see Barbadian society opting for a value system in which young people are urged to strive to become “persons of value” – persons imbued with character, moral qualities, manners, and academic, artistic or technical attainment. If we had a Barbados in which a “person of value” was truly admired and held up as the pinnacle of success and accomplishment, then our youth would be placed on a path away from many of the social pathologies that are now scarring our society.

But how do we create a society that confers the highest value upon the ambition to become a “person of value”? Clearly, it cannot simply be a matter of preaching at our young people! Rather, it must be about systematic and concrete efforts to rid the society of institutional practises and behaviours that denigrate, disrespect and oppress the ordinary Barbadian, or that alienate and frustrate our youth through the maintenance of structures of inequality and double standards.

It must also be about forging institutions that give real support and nurture to struggling youth, and that genuinely assist all of our youth to cultivate their innate potential and to maximise their life chances.

Ultimately, it is about us all striving to build a nation together – seeing each other as brothers and sisters; seeing our brother’s problem as our problem; and working together to create a Barbados in which we all have a genuine stake.

The proper commemoration of September 3 provides an opportunity for us to get on that path. Let us ensure that we embrace that opportunity!

* David Comissiong is president of the Peoples Empowerment Party and a founder member of the September 3rd Foundation.

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