AFTER the Lenten lull and the heart-warming feelings of the rising, this island has returned to its blood-letting (and lawlessness), and young men lay dying. Reckless living, and dying, have become a new almost cultural phenomenon since the advent of ‘the white lady’ on our shores and in particular, since its enforced scarcity.
No one ever promised Saint Lucia a rose garden. True, politicians have promised much including helping to ‘watch your bread;’ ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ and even ‘better days.’ A rose garden was left to the peoples’ creation; to develop and to nurture. Alas, the once clean, tranquil and idyllic Castries has become a scented public urinal and a garbage collection point that are pre-disposing factors to crime. Who is there so bold and resolute to rescue this once proud little town?
Christians are familiar with the story of the great Satan who appeared to the Lord Jesus when the latter had fasted forty days and was at his hungriest and weakest. It was then Satan chose to offer Jesus the whole world, if only Jesus would agree to obey him. Satan’s offer spoke of ‘better days’ in abundance! Thankfully, a more powerful and spirit-lead leader did not fall for Satan’s grand promises. The moral of Jesus’ resistance is that there is a pathway to a richer reward than petty greed, jealousy and indiscipline. Resistance is not an easy road, and its cup of suffering is real.
This is written to remind those who need it that temptation is always knocking at our doors – sometimes even on the doors of our vehicles. No one promised a rose garden but, in a civilized society one expects the State to educate its citizens, to establish a climate for investments (by both local and foreign), and to see that the criminal justice system works efficiently. In addition, one expects exemplary leadership from religion, business, the public service and politicians.
Experience teaches that no society works exactly the way its leaders plan or, wish it to. Extenuating circumstances can intervene to disrupt ‘the best laid plans of mice and men.’ It is at such times that true leaders emerge. Some run away; others hide and make excuses, while others throw up their hands in defeat. The few, the brave, and the patriotic are left to build a better country. The return to blood-letting in Castries has been adequately reported, including the non-functioning of CCTV cameras, a mere street-width away from one such killing.
Some citizens are so traumatized by these killings they can hardly communicate their emotions, with clarity. No one will ever know for certain what goes on in the minds of those who have been victimized, or, in the minds of those who carried out the heinous acts. Their true feelings seemed destined to travel to the grave with both sides of these murderous equations.
Despite these senseless killings a third and larger constituency goes about its life (and work), in the midst of the blood-letting. These are Saint Lucians who work hard each day to feed their families and to create a better inheritance for their children. To this end we ought to recognize the many sports leaders and coaches who have been preparing the youth to participate in regional netball, swimming and cricket competitions. The excellent performances of these youngsters and their coaches must not go unheralded. The under-fifteen youth cricketers have just retained the Windward Islands Youth trophy which they won last year. The young netballers have started very well and our young swimmers continue to make us proud. In fine, Saint Lucia sports administrators and coaches continue to work to secure a better future for their young charges – and for Saint Lucia.
One does not have to be a cricket enthusiast to appreciate the young batting sensation from Saint Lucia, Kimani Melius. One prays that such young talent will be monitored and encouraged until it gains selection on the West Indies senior cricket team.
I recall how six or seven years ago the newspapers in Trinidad followed the progress of a young wicket keeper/batsman named Stephen Ketwaoo from East Trinidad, who now plays for the Trinidad senior cricket team. It is to be hoped that coaches of the caliber of John Eugene and Alton Crafton who both live and breathe cricket, will continue their good work with the island’s young cricketers. One also prays for same in netball, swimming and other sporting disciplines.
Brief profiles of the island’s young netballers have recently been highlighted on DBS television sports. The youth need such exposure rather than the pointless ‘liming on the block’ which blocks sporting talent. We wish our young ladies well in the Caribbean youth netball competition being played in Saint Lucia. Ditto our young swimmers! Coaches must continue to monitor these young talents perchance to determine who (and what), motivates them to excel.
For my part young people who are taught the basics of sports ought to also be coached on how (and when), to speak, to sit properly (both boys and girls) and generally how to conduct themselves on and off the field of play. Youth must be made aware that the game does not need them. There will always be others anxious to take their places. On the other hand, they need the sport to bring out their God given talent which better allows them to express positive traits and reach heights which they did not think possible, surprising family and peers alike.
The need for strict discipline, regular practice, respect for coaches and team mates, learning to bond and play for each other, should become second nature to every serious young sportsman or woman. They will one day discover that the best trained and disciplined sports personalities often make the best leaders in business and in public life, leading exemplary lives.
Amidst the blood-letting therefore, it is heartening to observe the island going about its business even as men lay dying. Violent crime remains a very small, but important distraction, of the island’s overall personality. It ought to be kept at bay! Early identification and development of sporting talent is one avenue open to planners and developers to mold a crime-free society. Violent crime ought not to be allowed to dictate the pace of our lives even as we continue to demand the justice system work more efficiently. Fearless and patriotic leaders will emerge in sports and elsewhere even whilst blood spills and men lay dying.