The spate of lawlessness in recent days has provoked fresh concern about the direction of our society.
Sunday’s raucous behaviour which saw young men determined to use whatever they could get their hands on – rocks, sticks and all – to attack another, while desecrating a private cemetery after a popular event, was jarring.
Monday’s shooting incidents in Silver Hill, Christ Church and Pickwick Gap, St Michael, which left two men injured, were no less disturbing.
And then, just yesterday, two accused men brazenly attempted to fight despite being in a courtroom before a sitting magistrate. What madness!
These acts are becoming all too familiar and there seems to be no end in sight.
We couldn’t agree more with Prime Minister Mia Mottley who declared this week that “it has to stop”.
Civility and decorum have always been at the bedrock of our society but, admittedly, we have allowed ourselves to slide down a slippery path, and the consequences are numbing.
We are living in a society where anger is on the increase.
People often choose not to interact civilly and there’s hardly an “I apologize” or “forgive me”.
The worrying trend was a talking point at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
President Edward Clarke expressed fear that the recent lawless, gun-related and violent incidents by some of our youth would negatively affect the country if they were not forcefully addressed.
“These actions continue to erode the core values of our society….These Wild West type activities, if not stopped immediately, will negatively impact economic gains that we have achieved through our cultural events and tourism gains for all of Barbados,” he warned, in a strong appeal to authorities to crack down on the proliferation of illegal guns on the streets.
Prime Minister Mottley signalled that the worrying trend had not escaped the attention of Government, disclosing that the situation was discussed at a meeting of the National Security Council and the issue would be tackled head on.
Efforts to control destructive behaviour are sadly needed. But, again, the root cause stills needs to be addressed.
Clarke pointed out that there are “bigger issues at play”.
He noted that Barbados was “losing a generation of young males and now, unfortunately, there seems to be a growing number of females joining this group.”
And this is the crux of the problem.
We can blame a lack of parenting, lament the demise of strong discipline – all of which contributed to the issue – but it is more than that.
Barbados has shifted from its traditional values and in far too many cases it has not worked in our favour.
We are living in an increasingly divided society where people resort to settling their differences with guns, knives and fists.
We have moved from communities that functioned as villages to raise a child, to communities where we don’t know who lives next door.
We have adopted the glamorous lifestyles paraded abroad and stop short of nothing to keep up with the Joneses.
Too many of our youngsters complete their schooling without any qualifications or adequate life skills and then too many are not availing themselves of the opportunities provided by the Barbados Vocational Training Board and other national entities.
Far too many adults are setting the wrong examples and luring youth into lawless activity.
We support Ms Mottley who earlier this week, in an interview with veteran journalist David Ellis, said the country must engage in a conversation to tackle the problem, even as she proposed that the Ministry of Youth Affairs would have to formulate new programmes to engage youth, especially those between the ages of 14 and 22.
This is a key step, but may we suggest that the problems we face require more and it’s not merely a job for Government.
What it requires is a cultural change and all hands on deck.
Families, churches, schools, the private sector and all other groups must adopt a proactive approach to change the course of the lives of our young people.
We know what is required but we repeatedly fail to act, but this is a fight worth having.