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Youth to say no to violence!

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The search for true answers in many instances is often much more difficult than the imagination can fully grasp. For many years our leaders have sought to bring a higher level of civility among our people to ensure that aspects of violence resulting in other forms of criminal activities are kept at a minimum. The latest innovation is the “Pan against crime Programme”, which is now taking root in the communities across our nation. However, despite many efforts be it past or present, can we truly say that our youth are really taking heed?{{more}} While the answer to this question is important in assisting us in adjusting our approach to the subject matter at hand, even if answered in the negative, it must not cause us to loose hope and consequently fail to try.

In a search for answers, this week I have decided to borrow from many local writers in our newspapers which are usually filled with commentaries asking our youth to cease and desist from activities which may land them on the wrong side of the fence. However, are our youth really keeping abreast with the national current affairs, or are we now at a stage where we have to provide new modes of carrying the message across?

In a story by Adrian Codogan dated the 18th January, 2008, captioned in the Searchlight newspaper as “Barrouallie teenager is first homicide for 2008,” was an extremely bad start to welcome the new year. The victim was a young person.

It is not by chance that Hon. Rene Baptiste who at the time was speaking at the launch of the Largo Height Community Development Organisation, at the Largo Height Community Centre, on Tuesday, 25th March, 2008, called on our youth to become more involved in the lives of their communities. This is not simply a call for membership; it is based on a further call to shun activities which are negative by channeling youth energy into what is positive.

It is clear that in current times, organisations must play a critical part in our everyday lives more than ever before. Organising is the next big step after dialogue. As it relates to youth, when we are involved in the process of organising we take ownership of our future. The importance does not end there, as it is the best way to develop a new generation of leaders – through direct action, community research, reflection and political analysis. It is also a means for populations, largely our youth, to reconnect with systems of society, principally with the education system.

What are some of the negatives which are besetting us? Ann-Marie John, writing in a Searchlight edition of 1 February, 2008, wrote as follows, “Additionally, many agreed that the lyrics of popular artistes only help to weaken the efforts to deal with crime in society, contributing to the upward trend of criminal activities. This is not surprising, since what a person feeds his mind on naturally determines his behaviour. Research strongly attests to the great effect music has on human behavior. Having said that, could you imagine an already angered youth imbibing the lyrics ‘If a boy try dis me and me soldier, blow him brain out… Gangster fu life …” The young have the tendency to imitate and experiment, and it is not so surprising when they act out the dark philosophies of these destructive songs. Some radio personalities do not help either!” What is going to be our policy in the future on the content that we expose our more malleable minds to?

In recent times, I have had the opportunity to draw real life comparatives between the youth in metropolitan countries and our youth product at home. The result is that we indeed have to ensure that a properly planned, structured and executed system is put in place so that we can create an awareness which clearly explains to our youth that we are to be better informed by our local circumstances and that we must stop living in the shadows of the negativities from the branded metropolis. What would be the consequences if a Vincentian fifteen year old is to emulate the many aspects of misconduct of an American child of the same age? Our causes are dissimilar, the circumstances are grossly unrelated, and the realities are unconnected for the most part. Attempting to live a so-called American Dream within a Vincentian context is simply unworkable.

In conclusion, Gideon Jack’s article writing from Wellington, New Zealand, published in the Searchlight’s edition of 8th February 2008 would not be out of place if it was written in this week’s edition when he noted as follows, “Being a Vincentian living abroad, I eagerly await news of my country each week through the Searchlight. Unfortunately, I am sad to read of all the unnecessary violence and killings, especially ones involving the youth. Youth are vital to the development of our country. They are precious resources. There are no winners on either side when it comes to violence – the families that lose their sons during a violent act, and the families who lose when their sons are locked up both suffer.” We have the option of choosing not to loose.

There is a mammoth task ahead for our young people. I hope that as youth we are not stating falsely to ourselves that we have achieved it all. We have not. In fact, we are far from completion. The cause evolves. Our cause is a constantly changing synthesis of ideas, thoughts, dreams and aspirations, so we must continuously change with the changing times. Adoption and adjustment are key. We must work harder to ensure that the ‘generation-next’ does not have to contend with this persistence of violence among ourselves which results on many occasions in the death of our family members and friends. How do we intend to build a modern competitive tourism product with headlines and front pages of homicides?

However, thank God that we are a nation of hope. We are also not without faith. The challenges that we face as a people are not static. Therefore, it is a dependence on our resilience as a people that will see us through.

Saboto Caesar is a lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.

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