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Our society’s ills

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My last article was captioned “Nero Fiddles while Rome Burns”. It was really an attempt to look at the serious threats to our society which is losing its cohesion and sense of purpose. It appeared to me that we might reach a stage where it is not possible to restore order, decency, discipline and sense of community. Today I want to go back to that theme because of recent developments.{{more}}

I was startled by a video on Facebook that had gone viral, which involved two persons holding a young man while another, a woman/girl, poured hot water on him. I don’t know the persons involved or the circumstances that prompted that dastardly display, but I was completely appalled and had difficulty figuring what could have led to that treatment. This is sheer inhumanity and really reflects the state of a society, uncaring with a loss of moral fibre. This comes shortly after another video, also shown on Facebook, captured a woman brutally beating a man. These would have been bad enough if done in the privacy of a home, but on the public street in the view of many, they tell a sad story.

We have, on one hand, to be thankful for the availability of cell phones with cameras which are able to expose these matters. But I have some concerns. It appears to me that anytime there is any such incident, people’s immediate response is to pull out their cell phones and use their cameras. There is little thought of trying to prevent the kind of abuses that occur. Additionally, I am sure that in both cases I heard persons laughing at the scene of the incidents. Have we become so callous? Where is our sense of community and concern for our fellow beings? Have such matters become a joke?

Then there is that incident at the Magistrate’s Court. One newspaper describes it as a detective pulling rank on a police prosecutor. When told by the prosecutor to answer the question posed to him he is reported to have said “You are a Station Sergeant – You relax!” Later, in response to another request by a defense lawyer to answer the question he was reported to have said, “You don’t know the rules of our organization!” This at first appears quite comical but is a serious matter. It conveys to me a sense of persons not being aware of their responsibilities and the roles they are expected to play in the positions they hold.

I am now beginning to understand the reasons for some of the lunacy on the roads with drivers who appear to be in another world. The possibility of police officers selling driver licences was not something that crossed my imagination, but now I know it is real this explains a lot. I imagine it explains the situation where a female driver who had her license for some months had to have a tutor for over a month to teach her to reverse. While on this matter, I wonder if persons who drive school children and the public generally should not be asked to undergo special tests.

Then we are on to the issue of security in areas that accommodate yachts. This is not new but recent incidents – the murder of a German yachtsman at Walliabou and the robbery of tourists recently at Mayreau, once again emphasize the urgency of dealing with these matters. With the slowdown in agriculture we have been pinning our hopes on tourism. Yacht tourism appears to be quite beneficial to our country and incidents such as these will certainly retard any growth in this area. Yachts people have excellent communication networks and such incidents are immediately reported through those networks. To express concerns about these incidents is not enough. Strong measures have to be put in place to retard such criminal behaviour. The report of a woman being held captive in a house in Vermont for a few months might appear to be an isolated matter but we have to ensure that these things do not start copycat situations.

Should we not be calling for an overhaul and re-examination of the structure and operations of the police force, especially areas relating to traffic and to security generally? Is it that the criminals or potential criminals feel that they will never be caught?

I was struck too by a report in the newspapers of a woman having to resort to violence to get her foreign employer to pay her what was owed to her. This caught my attention because I recently had a conversation with a young man who said he had become very desperate and didn’t know to whom to turn. He is working in one of the developments owned and operated by foreigners. His tale of woe had to do with the contempt shown to local workers. They were disrespected and called all sorts of names. I was told that they are able to do this with impunity because no one was paying attention to their concerns and additionally the employers being aware of the dreadful unemployment situation feel that they could get away with anything. Incidentally, this was the second such story I have heard recently. The first was from a young woman working at a different enterprise. When are we going to take stock of these things? How are we going to ensure that our people are respected and treated fairly? Do investors feel that investing in our country give them the right to treat our people like slaves? Is anyone concerned?

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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