In praise of the majority of our youth

That “white witch”, aptly described and somewhat tragically explored by Barbadian author Timothy Callender in his 1980s script on the cocaine culture in Barbados and the Caribbean, has been a pernicious intruder into our islands for decades. Its importation, distribution, and usage in Barbados have enriched a few, corrupted plenty, and destroyed many. The drug culture has brought with it blazing guns, bloody streets and fatherless children. But that is just one side of this country.

It should never go forth in or out of these shores that mayhem is the majority side of Barbados. We are still very much like the hard-working folk to be found in Callender’s St Elizabeth Village. But unfortunately, there are soulless, walking, human arachnids living off the blood of us villagers and we must find ways to defeat and eliminate them. And we must repeat our efforts,ad infinitum, because as long as there are ticks they will naturally try to find blood.

But in our villages, there are tremendous reasons for optimism. The majority of our young people are not to be found drifting aimlessly in and out of inanely named blocks. Most of our young people do not take murderous instructions from their cowardly peers or surrender their cranium and humanity through dalliances with that white witch or the squeeze of a trigger.

The majority of our young people are those who relate their wonderful stories of personal sacrifice and dedication to achieve academic scholarships and exhibitions. The majority of our young people are those who trek to and from the Barbados Community College where they arm themselves – not with guns – but with the knowledge to become productive citizens. The majority of our young people are those who attend the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic where academic and technical skills learned will ensure that as they prosper, so too will their country. The majority of our young people are to be found contributing to the artistic expression of the island, whether in song, dance, drama, creative writing, painting, visual arts, culinary arts and the like.

Hundreds of our young people are to be found in wholesome sporting activities, designing, construction, freighting, tourism, agriculture, cosmetology, legal vending – the list is endless. Some of them meet with varying degrees of success, as is the nature of life, but the satisfaction that comes with their honest, visible endeavours cannot be replaced by or be compared to the foul, fetid acquisitions in the perilous life of the underground.

We must act. We must flood our schools, our social clubs, the media, every village, and indeed our correctional facilities, with the positive tales of our young people and their achievements. We must demonstrate that what they have achieved at every level is not beyond the grasp of those others lured into, or intrigued by, life in the underworld. The waste and futility of the drug culture in all of its manifestations must be preached in every nook and cranny until it reaches the quick. This nothingness must be shown to be the greatest nemesis to the dreams of youth.

And our houses must be made homes. Better to scold harshly a wayward child with love, than to mourn and dishonestly pronounce him a “good boy” on his unnatural demise. Often the regular influx of the almighty dollar into houses make those responsible for creating homes oblivious or insensitive to the origins of those many pieces of silver. Bloodied money cannot be cleansed.

Unfortunately, the sins of the few frequently overshadow the triumphs and achievements of the multitude. And we are sometimes prone to daub the accusatorial brush on the many because of the sins of the few. But we should never forget that criminality and sin are learnt. There are many today wielding guns who once brandished books. There are several now prostrate before the white witch who once knelt at an altar or sought gainful employment, or tried to live in plain sight. But, perhaps, circumstance led them astray. Criminality and sin can be sweet for both the strong and the weak.

It is in this environment of a constant tussle between right and wrong, therefore, that we must continuously showcase the abundance of positive youth in Barbados and what can be achieved without recourse to drugs, guns, and violence. We will not reach everyone, but if we fail to act, we will reach no one.

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