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Well done Minister Francis

By Abetta Country
Image of Home Affairs Minister, Hermangild Francis

THIS writer followed closely the discussions which swirled in the media last week on a fete advertisement which by all accounts was devised by students and or past students of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College as an unrelated, non-school activity. It certainly raised many red flags of concern. I also saw the video which contained strongly sexualized images, enough to illicit some well-placed concern. This is also a wake-up-call for the parents and guardians to pay greater attention to how their children socialise. Do they engage in excesses, unsafe behaviour, consume alcohol, abuse drugs and engage in random sex acts?

Image of Home Affairs Minister, Hermangild Francis
Home Affairs Minister, Hermangild Francis

The Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Senator Hermingild Francis must be commended for publicly calling out the youth involved with the activity. To this writer, youthful exuberance or not, the thinking behind this ad is pointing in an unhealthy direction and is in need of some correcting. Thank you Minister for giving the youth the opportunity to “check” themselves. Thank you for having the courage to do so knowing that some sections of the public would spew their venom in your face. Few if any callers to Newsspin took the opportunity to appeal to the youth to heed the advice and to be more moderate in how they do things.

Predictably the show quickly devolved into a blame game. The most informed contribution came from the host himself in his preamble. As a former Deputy Commissioner of Police with a 35 year policing career, someone who has read law and the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Mr. Francis would be able to flag very early, by dint of many years of service, experience and training, any worrisome behaviour or trends that can lead youth to be in conflict with the law, so he is well resourced and well placed to speak.

He is the same minister who is lobbying for the legalisation of marijuana. Generally we love to put our leaders in a box and in our black books because they take a no-nonsense position on serious matters. That is unfair to say the least. The persons who have an affinity to do this know themselves and should carry out some introspection.

The discussion on that so- called “Tsunami fete” presumably dated for April certainly shone a light on some of the grown adults in society. On the one hand they know that the youth is badly in need of good leadership, yet they are reluctant to adopt a stance for the greater good. They over-simplify that guidance and leadership needed by young adults at such a critical juncture of their lives. Perhaps some adults want to be teenagers forever and so are undesirous of giving credence to anything that is perceived to be “uncool’. The youth are also the victims of a society which has become too permissible. This writer appeals to our leaders in politics, civil society or at the community levels to find the strength to correct young people and to keep them in check.

Go ahead leaders; set the standards higher for the more privileged youth of today; well at least materially so. We want them to do better than us. Exceed expectations young people. Don’t use your intellect to whine and smoke or drink alcohol. There is no long term benefit in those activities. Nobody said don’t have fun. But one does not have to go gutter-low to have fun.

Parents are burying their children because of violence, suicides, and drug abuse or road accidents. Sometimes we hear they are missing. We hear of babies found in garbage chutes from time to time because teenagers had unplanned pregnancies. Some youth join gangs and others still have compromising images of themselves circulating all over social media. Tell me: why should our leaders not denounce all these unhealthy, unsavoury activates? Should they welcome the societal –ills instead?

This writer is convinced that many youth are being influenced by the wrong people – adults who are naive, they lack critical thinking skills, they can’t think of an action all the way through to its final outcome, their reasoning is flawed and uninformed, they cannot engage in reflective thinking and they just dismiss or oversimplify everything as a result of ignorance or partisanship.

It was incredulous to hear that some persons were calling Newsspin last week providing misplaced excuses and confessions that they had done questionable things as youth as well “in their time”. That is not the point. The point is if it was wrong- doing then do not pass it on, do not excuse it and do not endorse it. Do not encourage young people to make the mistakes you made. That is silly and mean. The outcome for them might be fateful even if you got away with your bad conduct and risk-taking. Wrong is wrong and two wrongs do not make a right.

Saint Lucians have that tendency to spend more time and energy justifying wrongs than preventing them. We also love to tear down the few people who stand for what is right. Yet we want a peaceful, safe and law abiding society. It won’t happen at this rate.

We love to pretend that there is so much ambiguity where morality is concerned; that it is so very subjective and murky such that there must be a law for this and that, even to pull our undies down to use the washroom and for every other thing. Really? All the while we are saying this, we understand clearly the difference between what is wrong and what is right.

For those who would love to see about ten thousand more laws be implemented to guide young people and increase their chances of being fined or confined while you’re at it, try just speaking to them and calling them out when they do wrong. Also support them when on the right path and see the difference you will make.

Yes there is need for updated laws and more are coming don’t worry – but isn’t there a law for bikers to wear helmets? How much compliance is there on the grounds that there is a law? Laws do not render our moral rectitude irrelevant dear reader. If you notice the laws strengthen the code of morality of our western culture.

Moreover, we are not a highly litigious society. Probably if we were more inclined to go to court there may be more laws on the books but we are not that way culturally – please be mindful of that. Also we are not very law-respecting people so why are we asking for more laws. We hate laws- most of us – and we break a law or two with pleasure every day.

We have to be careful in randomly calling for more laws. The spirit of the law most times is to punish so in that sense you would be increasing your own chances of being fined or confined.

Some sections of the public felt the minister should have defined the word “Lewd”. The dictionary defines the word and that’s all one needs to understand what he is saying . Additionally, the minister never said he intended to take anybody to court in which case of course the need for a legal definition would become necessary.

Most importantly our leaders must continue to take unrelentingly positions on important matters pertaining to youth inter alia because the state spends heavily to educate most of those young people through tax payers’ contributions.

Don’t we want people of high integrity to undertake these roles, some relating to life and death situations – to be up-standing youth of sound character? Why are some of us known personalities so needlessly defensive and sensitive when our leaders address the youth for their own good?

Whereas our youth can be quite impetuous and sometimes a bit inane, they are nonetheless, a wonderful resource. Saint Lucia has a largely youthful population. Roughly 77. 2 percent is under 50 years of age. Our census statistics indicate “persons between the ages of 15 to 29 years” make up 26.2 percent of the population. Therefore young adults are implicitly connected with the country’s viability, progress and sustainability.

I would like to encourage all the consistent voices including Honourable Sarah Flood-Beaubrun to keep up the good work. The period designated as youth in the human life cycle is the most precious of times but let us not mislead a whole generation. Bad decisions and irresponsible behaviour kill dreams and robs youthfulness of all its promise, potential and expectations. Consequences of bad decisions and actions can be harsh and unforgiving. As the bible says what you sew you shall reap. Therefore, young people must be continually sensitized that if you play with fire you will get burned. It is the reality of life.

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