Amidst all the wordiness surrounding criminality and murder in this small country, I have awaited reasonable, sensible and wise reflection on the calamity that has befallen this nation.
Finally, those inspired words appeared in two dailies. I salute not only these newspapers but especially the letter writer Zephaniah Burrows. It is obvious that he grew up a long time ago on an Out Island (Family Island, now called). I need not reiterate that which he so eloquently penned, but suffice it to say just a little bit more.
Growing up in the good old days, especially on an island, the home and family, the father and mother, were our instructors, disciplinarians and loving caretakers. But not just them. We were blessed to have the schools as our “loco parentis”. The schools built on what began in the home.
Good manners at home and abroad were the order and rule of the day. “Good morning and good day” were spontaneous. When greeting an older man or woman, it was “Good morning, sir” or “Good morning, ma’am.”
To this very day, it is beyond my comprehension how news traveled. No electricity, no landlines, no cell phones, and not an iota of modern communications, but a parent was somehow always made aware, long before a child stepped in the door at home if their child had misbehaved at school or on the way there or back.
Thus, we grew up not just being aware of the ever-seeing eye of our parents, but also that the God above saw and scrutinized every action, good or bad. It took me ages to break some of the habits of old, especially the greeting of anyone you may pass.
A long time after my island childhood, while attending universities abroad, it was extremely difficult to pass anyone and not greet them in the old-fashioned way. Sometimes the greeting would be returned, but often not. I would get a look that said: “What’s wrong with that…” Nonetheless, that habit is still not completely broken, even after scores of years of life on this planet.
Thus, putting aside much of all the political maneuvering that we see taking place, the powers that be just need to take a look at Zephaniah’s words of wisdom and contemplate the best ways of getting families reestablished in this country with an emphasis on the presence of fathers in the home. I would surmise that close to 45 percent of homes in this country, especially in New Providence, lack the presence of dedicated and involved fathers.
How, then, can we expect our young men today to be other than what many of them are? Even the need to belong to a gang, speaks volumes about what they missed in their early years.
In spite of their amazing efforts to raise balanced, caring and loving boys, mothers often struggle to manage through no fault of their own. When one key ingredient of the rearing of a child is absent, imbalance is often the result.
I have encountered girls who, due to the absence of fathers, look to these same gang elements, led by young men, to find some distorted elements of fatherhood. Very often, in order to help support their mom, they offer themselves sexually to gang members and become pregnant, and thus, the vicious cycle continues.
In the short to medium term, strategies must be put in place to hold fathers responsible for the creation of potential criminals in this nation.
Taking the long-term view, the level of poverty in this nation, in spite of its enormous resources, must be recognized a singular tragedy. Equanimity at all levels of society must be the task of every government in order to stem the perversity of social alienation and crime, in every nook and cranny.
When we can state with shame that at this very moment, nearly half our population is living at or below the poverty level, we must either accept that criminality will forever rule the day, or else we must face and correct this unjust imbalance in our Bahamaland.
Written by: Joseph Darville, product of out island raising