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A People Ungovernable! Anything Goes!


2008 is now well and truly with us. Most of us, maybe many of us, would have consciously or unconsciously pledged ourselves to turn a new page and be better persons, satisfying goals we would have identified at some time. Having made such a bold statement, I really should rethink it for I wonder, among other things, if the criminally bent mind, for one, would have such a goal. {{more}}Today, in a world shaped by self- centredness and material things, the goals might be quite different and the means in any event might simply be stated as anything possible. The movement from one year to another is to a large extent psychological for January 1, 2008 was really no different from December 31, 2007. For those persons who consciously welcome the New Year, either at parties, at church or during whatever else they are doing, good or bad, does it really mean anything five minutes after?

2007 was a challenging year for us. I am sure I heard on New Year’s Eve/Old Year’s Day that there was a murder in Rose Hall, another one to round off the year. That would mean 35 or 36 known murders, I believe. I understand there is going to be a greater police presence. Will this make a difference? The perpetrators of crime appear to fear neither man nor God, so how do you deal with them? Earlier I used the term criminally bent for I have no doubt that some of us are regularly moving along that path. I was struck by something said to me by a friend during the season. He was talking about a first time visitor to SVG, a young person. This person was asked how she felt about St.Vincent. She said it was a nice place but that it had no rules (or was it regulations I don’t remember?). I was really taken in by this observation, by a young person, a first time visitor. It was to my mind a profound observation. I have said before that when I visit some other countries I really become convinced on reflection that there is little order at home; that anything goes. We have little regard for anyone or anything.

We all complain for instance about drivers on our roads, particularly about what we call a mini-van mentality or culture, as some describe it. It has to be so described because it is much more than a group of people hustling for a quick buck. It is indeed a mentality. But it defines not only that group. It is about most of us. The mini-vans become something else in our lives. We please ourselves, we disregard rules. In our minds, even without a vehicle, we turn wherever we want; we stop where we want. Life in SVG is like a jungle in our definition of a jungle. But there is order in a jungle. So what is wrong with us? Perhaps not what is wrong, but why? It is difficult to answer this. Some of the homicides/murders make little sense when we hear accounts of how they happened. But it comes back to having no rules or regulations, lacking order that is. Of course, there are rules and regulations, but they mean little to us. We try to get along in our own way, even if it means disregarding them. Any rule or regulation has become something to get around. It is about beating a system and satisfying ourselves in doing so.

The conductor of a mini-van that tries to pass on the outside of a long line of traffic sticks out his hand. He directs things. In his mind it is his right, and failure to respect or recognise this, results in a curse word or two. Who do you think you are Mister! You should realise that you must stop and allow us to get in when I stick my finger out (Is how he rationalises it in his mind). This is life in SVG, a truly ungovernable country it would appear. That statement or pledge to make the country ungovernable, it appears, has come back to haunt us. Whether or not there is a direct connection is left for us to speculate about. The fact is that for whatever reason, we appear to be ungovernable. When you walk around town you see signs of this. It might be pedestrians disregarding the signal from the Police not to cross, or it might be a driver who comes along Egmont Street, and moves on to Bay Street paying little attention to traffic moving along that street. I observed this about a week ago. I had just driven past the pedestrian crossing at Y de Lima when out of the Blue a lady drives in front of me from Egmont Street. What was interesting is that she never looked at me. She never looked to see if any vehicle was moving along Bay Street. She was like the bus conductor. In her mind she had the right of way and it is my problem if I don’t want to recognise and respect that. At the entrance to my work place, the police have been placing three cones daily to prevent/dissuade vans from overtaking on the left side of what is really a single line of traffic. They have done that because there had been a few accidents and many near misses. Would you believe that these are quite often removed to facilitate what the police are trying to prevent? Speak about being ungovernable!

The passage of time from 2007 to 2008 is not going to bring an end to this kind of behaviour. What will? This is a difficult question, made so by the fact that some people don’t recognise what I have been describing as a problem. It is in their mind simply about getting along, about beating the system if they even care to recognise or accept that there is a system; that there should be some sense of order. So anything goes. When we set up Commissions or Committees to deal with the increase in crime or when we try to discuss the alarming trends we have to start by recognising that there is little order and that anything goes. This is a starting point for failure to recognise this means we will get no where. What is really worrying is that this mentality; this failure to recognise or accept that there are rules or regulations to bring order to life or how we go about our daily business, is detected even among the very young.. It didn’t start with them. They didn’t bring it into the world with them, but from very early they have become seasoned into it. So there is a generation that is convinced that that is how life is, even if they are not sure that is how it should be. It started with us, but how do we change it? We can only do so if we recognise it. The fact is that many of us do not recognise it.

We are truly ungovernable. Anything goes. Bet your life it will continue into 2008, perhaps even get worse.