The untimely death of 70-year-old Robert Quintyne that rocked the close-knit community of Passage Gardens, St Michael on Wednesday night was as tragic as it was vexing.
Vexing because it was a grim reminder that too many of us are resorting to violence – guns, knives, rocks and fists to settle our differences, rather than choosing to walk away or to talk things out in the interest of peace.
Quintyne’s daughter Antonia Alleyne told Barbados TODAY that had her father not tried to intervene in an altercation between two young woman, he would have been alive today.
“I saw him in the middle of this thing [altercation] and I was like, ‘but why you up in them?” But he was trying to get the little girl which is his friend’s daughter out of the fight,” she said.
More and more these days ‘conflict resolution’ appears to be passwords of a by-gone era.
In fact, rather than walking or running away or even trying to stop a row, too many of us are busy recording the ugly incidents on our smart phones, so as to be in a position to spread a scandalous story.
Therefore, the end result more often than not, is senseless deaths and grief.
Families are left to mourn and go on without a father, a mother, a husband, a son, a sister, a friend.
In recent weeks we have endured the horror of disputes. An altercation resulted in a young St John man losing his life following a row in The Pine with another man; a young man died in the River Van stand after a public quarrel involving a group; a police constable at the centre of a love triangle was killed during a vicious husband and wife dispute; students have been fighting and wounding each other because of disagreements and so on and so on.
Where is all this anger coming from? Can we no longer settle quarrels big or small? When the heated moment is over and passions have died down, is it really worth the loss of a valuable human life?
Even without supporting scientific data, we are all too aware that disputes often end in tragedy and we really must act now as the situation seems to be getting progressively worse.
The answer does not lie solely with the police force enforcing crime prevention strategies.
More so this problem needs families, churches, schools, civil society groups, sociologists and other authorities to tackle it frontally by deliberately engaging various techniques that emphasize that conflict resolution is still the best solution.
There can be no getting away from the fact the conflict is part of everyday life, but it doesn’t have to lead to violence and no one wants to be in the position in which murder accused Applon Ishmael Ithamar Parris found himself on Thursday – apologizing after the fact and publicly for embarrassing his wife when he sent out an “obscene” video of her via an electronic device on March 26, the same day he allegedly murdered her lover, Police Constable Shayne Welch.
“I apologize for my behaviour. It was done out of frustration and anger. I should have never embarrassed my wife,” Parris said before Magistrate Elwood Watts.
It begs the question, how differently things could have turned out for all concerned, had he just taken a moment to exhale and to seriously think of the consequences before he actually acted?
For when all is said and done, no conflict is everlasting or absolutely unavoidable.
Just a few weeks ago, all and sundry watch the viral video on social media of the island’s newly installed first Peace Ambassador Ayra Newton demonstrating restraint while being taunted and physically assaulted last month by another student.
But did we really learn?
The fourth form student, who overcame conflict resolution challenges, as a member of the Juvenile Liaison Scheme, maintained her composure and walked away without retaliating.
Anger is no excuse. We can all learn more constructive methods to deal with conflicts.
No one wins using violence.
We need to rid ourselves of the mentality that the one “who wins” the fight is the big, bad man and should be feared, when the real victor is one who walks away.
Walking away from a dispute doesn’t make you a coward or weak. On the contrary, it proves that you have integrity and you are in control of your emotions.
Violence is preventable. It requires that we all take a stand and act more decisively to affirm the value of life and protect the dignity of each human being.
We can start in neighbourhoods. Families should try to revitalize that missing community spirit. Our social agencies should seek to develop meaningful developmental programmes for our young people. Churches too can make a greater effort to foster peace and harmony and where possible law enforcers should engage with perpetrators to help them come to a place where they put down their weapons and restore peace in this hurting paradise.