For “beautiful Barbados” these past few days, the developing news of nine-year-old Xavier Bertrand being greeted by a bullet to the head on entering a Swan Street store on Saturday morning has made for chilling reading. Only the most insensitive, uncaring and callous of us could have escaped the horror the story conjures up and the consequent feeling of revulsion for an act spawned from lawlessness and abandoned social responsibility.
Xavier’s unintended date with near-death last weekend –– coming on the heels of a spate of other shootings quite recently –– sharpens the question even more: what indeed ails this nation of ours?
Times were when beatings, shootings and murders were manifestly crimes of passion, or were born of chronic domestic violence, or arose from protracted property disputes –– which very bad forms we had managed to remould over time by social education, reasoning and counselling.
Of course, some will say the jury is still out on domestic violence against women. But we are hopeful that with the constant appeal to society by the various women’s groups, the church and all the other responsible institutions, these senseless and futile assaults on the nation’s mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters and nieces will come to naught.
The mindless, barbaric and asinine practice of shooting up places and people by a breed of criminal –– without forethought or reflection ––is quite another matter.
Whatever may be the reason for this growing ignorant display of reckless violence by our youth, this Barbadian society of ours needs an urgent and profound uplift from the church pulpits, school classrooms and homes –– the last of which which seems to be most lacking in this elevation of considerateness and civil conduct.
We are ostensibly –– for the much greater part –– followers of the celebrated teachings of Jesus Christ that enjoin strong brotherly love, forgiveness and inner peace –– not remotely related to the gun and bullet. Yet, we would acquiesce to a notion that “this is life today”, in keeping with crime and violence elsewhere.
What good is this to the Xavier Bertrands among us, whose rights must include freedom to travel The City with family and friends in peace and safety?
Gratefully, we have no chronicles of, or experiences in, infanticide or mass child murder. The gunning down or slaughter of our schoolchildren is unheard of –– and must remain so!
We are averse to such happenings, the likes of which have too often burst on the news scene in the United States, with pupils from five years to ten perishing in the carnage. Sometimes the tragedy strikes through the hand of a lone gunman roaming the classrooms. Other times, it is an angered student himself relieving tensions or exacting vengeance.
We have no such sordid scenes here; which speaks to the overall temperance of our nature and the national shock we went into on learning of Xavier’s traumatic ordeal.
That the news was unspeakable is an understatement.
The grief of Xavier’s mother Asha Payne, were he to have been taken, would most certainly be beyond words; the possible negative effect on Xavier’s future life, as it now stands, is not without notice.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. –– Matthew 2:17 and 18.
Mummy Asha could have indeed been weeping for her son, and not be comforted –– undeservingly so. We thank God Almighty for Xavier’s spared life.
We will not have any Rachels weeping for their children, and would not be comforted, will we?
At the rate we are going . . . !