Barbados for the most part is a well-ordered, conservative society, but on occasion, the behaviour of a few miscreants jarringly reminds us that not all sing from the same hymn sheet.
Perhaps that is why the recent vandalism of four churches in the Shop Hill community of St Thomas would have elicited a stern rebuke from the lips of most citizens or a Bajan stupse in disgust.
Exactly one week ago, a vandal or vandals ventured onto the property of the Bethel House of Prayer, the Shop Hill Church of the Nazarene, the Centenary Moravian Church and the United Pentecostal Church, not for worship but to desecrate.
Armed with rocks, the culprit or culprits smashed several windows at each church.
What little information we have does not lead us to conclude that the perpetrator or perpetrators were interested in stealing.
According to Reverend Vera Waithe who leads the Centenary Moravian Church, “it seems it was not a matter of someone trying to steal but possibly someone trying to make a statement, or have a grouse with the church or things Christian, since three other churches were affected. There is no evidence of forced entry or any damage to the doors.”
Oh how Barbados continues to change!
In days of old, hardly would anyone, religious minded or not think about entering the hallowed grounds of the church, be it a cathedral or chapel, to commit a lawless act.
In fact, there was a time when Barbadians would not dress casually to attend worship, would not play loud music once services were being conducted and would not congregate near a church to gamble, smoke or drink for fear that God would execute judgment swift and sure as he did in the case of Ananias and his wife Sapphira.
Not today! Anything goes! Even when the church is at worship some casually engage in loud, riotous behaviour and no one dares to correct them.
It is hard to deny that respect for the church and things Christian is waning. Values we once held dear as Barbadians – respecting our elders, keeping our surroundings clean, not violating the space of our neighbour with unbearable noise or gossip, being our brother’s keeper – no longer matter.
While it is true that just a few might be engaging in such questionable practices, it is an indictment on our society.
Unfortunately, the church was not the only institution targeted by bandits. Later that week, the Wesley Hall Junior School was forced to abandon classes after bandits broke in and destroyed some of the school’s property in their search for valuables.
The church is sacrosanct because it is the house of God, and schools are off limits since they nurture our children.
Acts like these remind us that social decay is mounting and pointing fingers and playing the blame game won’t correct the problem.
The fact is, Barbados has to get back to the basics. Each citizen has to take a stand, not merely talking out loud, but taking action to show that there is no room for negative behaviour.
In the home, parents must take greater responsibility for training their children and teach them respect, as well as the acceptable do’s and don’ts in line with societal values.
Communities must speak out against deviance in all its forms, churches must reach out to the very ones who refuse to enter their doors to offer support and guidance and the powers-that-be must create opportunities for all citizens to make a valuable contribution to the country’s development.
By joining hands we can achieve a better Barbados that we can all be proud of.