Earlier this month, if you hadn’t noticed, the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Community Relations Department held its inaugural Senior Citizens Luncheon –– at the Horatio Cooke Auditorium of the National Union of Public Workers’ home in Dalkeith, St Michael.
Crime prevention officer Station Sergeant Stephen Griffith, hoping that the force’s promised new annual act would set an example for the “wider society” to follow, said: “In a lot of cases, the elderly are neglected, making them targets for crimes. We want society to care for those who got us where we are today.
“Sometimes they may be forgotten,” Station Sergeant Stephen Griffith acknowledged, “But,” pledged he, on behalf of the Police Force, “we will not forget.”
To be truthful, the police are joining a host of other business and social groups who cater to the happiness of the old at Christmas time –– but a number that will hardly ever be too many. And so, the police’s new example, we trust, will trigger even more positive response to our aged in our communities at Christmas and otherwise.
Sometimes, we have to look outside our core purpose and goals.
“The Police Force,” said Station Sergeant Stephen Griffith, “is just not about law enforcement; we are also interested in those stalwarts of Barbadian life.”
He believes the new appreciative act of the police towards our nation’s seniors at this time of year would “help draw attention to the challenges of the elderly”. Every Christmas from now then, the elderly and their families may look forward to the cheer of the season, with the compliments of our Police Force.
As we have said before, growing old today is an accomplishment pursued, for it speaks generally to continued good health, self-satisfaction with mental and physical alertness and companionship with friends and family. Companionship we stress, for loneliness and abandonment can negate good health and self-sustenance. That is why we applaud the support efforts of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP), the National Assistance Board and other such social agencies –– and the varied contributions of those entities of which the Royal Barbados Police Force would be member.
Growing old can indeed be a treat –– especially if we can rid the land of the exploiters, thieves and robbers who would prey on our unsuspecting and trusting senior citizens. Publicly caring for and organizing social activities for our senior citizens will certainly go far in keeping these parasites, malefactors and villains away.
Of course, as we strongly believe, no such criminality would occur in the first place if we were all of one mind in respecting, honouring and revering our old.
And we do not have to wait until Christmas to show publicly our respects. Nor until Independence, though in the latter case we were delighted to see the special acknowledgement last month of the most senior of our citizens by the Ministry of Social Care. A group of centenarians and 99-year-olds were recognized by the Government and people of Barbados for their part played in the development of this country by way of their selfless work and sacrifice in ensuring furtherance of education of their progeny and in support of an improved national health system which they themselves would come to benefit from.
Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett spoke then on the behalf of all of us who care.
“We want you to know,” he told those honourable seniors –– mostly mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and aunts –– “that we love, appreciate and cherish you, and we value what you have done for us over the decades. Your contribution has been invaluable in helping us to maintain a civil society over the years.”
Honouring the old man and old woman is more than a practice of good manners or adherence to good etiquette; and more than our acknowledgement of gratitude for their good to us. Honouring our elders is a statute of God Almighty, as pronounced in Leviticus 19:32.
You shall rise before the grey headed and honour the presence of an old man [and old woman], and fear your God: I am the Lord.
This reverence can only translate into a better quality of life for our older folks and a deeper understanding of what the remit of the younger in society is.
May we never forget the contributions and sacrifices made of our senior citizens in their youthful days; may we never cease to recognize their efforts publicly; and may we forever be grateful.
Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
–– Proverbs 23:22.