Barbados is on a worrying slope.
Economically, there is no doubt that we are in deep, troubled waters and a close examination of this week’s Central Bank report on economic performance for the first nine months of the year, again confirms that Barbados is tottering on a dangerous precipice with record low levels of international foreign reserves compounded with high debt, dwindling revenue, rising inflation and little to no foreign investment.
But since we are constantly reminded that Barbados is more than an economy, it is a society, we shan’t dwell on the grim economic outlook, which for months has been forecast by respected experts at home and abroad.
Instead, our concern is our society and its disquieting almost daily decline.
Two incidents this week screamed that Barbados is off track and while there is this tendency to turn a blind eye, downplay, rationalize and even support unsavoury things happening in our society, there are times when we have to call a spade a spade and address it since ignoring problems don’t make them disappear.
Such is the case with the reported alleged assault of Police Commissioner Tyrone Griffith while executing his duties at Crab Hill, St Lucy last weekend.
We stay clear of imputing guilt on the accused awaiting his day in court to answer the matter but address a much wider issue.
Barbados has traditionally enjoyed the reputation of being a well-ordered, well–run country which upholds the rule of law and never should this change or be compromised.
This isolated incident should challenge all and sundry to speak out against flagrant disrespect for authority no matter the level, mindful that our silence could very well lead to a far worst outcome in the event the reprehensible act is repeated.
And then we come to an incident, which occurred on Wednesday afternoon involving our school children.
Police have confirmed that three secondary school students were engaged in a bloody attack of a man on a minibus on the Speighstown route. The adult was reportedly injured by one of the students said to be armed with a weapon.
Understandably, the incident is disturbing and has sparked outrage and demands for the offenders to be dealt with firmly.
Yet herein lies the problem. This society is well known for its persistent grumbling which hardly ever results in action. Barbadians are stuck in a cycle of being reactive, rather than proactive.
Deviance among our school children is nothing new.
Back in May there was equally strong outrage when a secondary school girl was severely beaten by a group of her peers.
And there have been other less publicized incidents.
But since then one can hardly identify a credible action plan that has been implemented to reverse the social ill. Families, educators, churches and concerned Barbadians have seemingly returned to their blissful oblivion.
Overtime, several factors including pop culture, television, and illegal drugs have been blamed for the rise in negative behaviour.
However, the main factor contributing to the problem lies with the society, starting first with our homes and parents.
In days of yore, neither parent nor village would condone the disrespect of law enforcers. Assaulting a police commissioner would only be a figment of a wild imagination.
No community would be silent in the face of such blatant disrespect of those we depend on to keep us safe and secure.
Right-thinking citizens must take a stand.
Equally, no school child could think or be bold enough to leave home with a weapon to challenge, far less injure a peer or an adult.
It is evident then that we are failing at imparting critical values to help our youth develop into well-rounded, purposeful citizens.
By now it must be absolutely clear to us all that the problems of deviance must be confronted and solved at home. This is where the solution must be found.
The family is the first school. As a society we need to demand that parents seriously perform their roles of properly socializing and disciplining their children. Perhaps the time has come for this to be legally enforced.
Loving but firm discipline at home is a prerequisite if children are to be successful. And this must spill over to our communities, where adults will talk less, act more and set positive examples.