The murder rate is on the increase in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis! This is against a backdrop of an extremely violent year with unprecedented deaths in 2008 followed By an uptick in 2009. (Three of our youth shot on one weekend and a fourth run over By the escaping gunmen’s car on the heels of 5 being shot just a couple of weekends ago; 9 youth injured due to gun violence in a period of 8 days already this year!) This increase is unsustainable if the country is to remain a viable tourist destination, a psychologically comfortable and spiritually secure home for its citizens, or the desirable tourist haven that it has been heretofore. We must all look inside the soul of the nation and examine what has brought us here and what it will take to reverse these dire trends. In this regard this article is the start of a series of articles devoted to a brashly honest, SOLUTIONS-based assessment of the current state of crime and security in the country in the hope that the right look at ourselves can help even slightly to free us from this morass. The dynamics behind the loss of control over our security, the apparent loss of a generation of our youth and the absence of civility and respect among leaders, are without a doubt the result of: a decline of the value system which once characterized and distinguished us as a people (including the role of God and the church in our communities), parental and family dysfunction and breakdown, an increased obsession in the nation with politics and a related disunity and divisiveness among the people of the country. I rarely write about politics as it usually APPEARS not to have direct relevance to what I have devoted much of my writing to over the past three years, which is the issue of crime and security in our country. Despite the great pains I take in my writing on the subject to avoid partisanship of any kind, many read and impose a political agenda on the content, so much some refuse to even read them. I am spiritually and psychologically burdened By the state of our politics and the grip it has over the minds, hearts and souls of our people. But I don’t see the issue of crime and security as being a political issue per se. I do confess, however, to holding accountable those to whom the trust of the Nation has been given, to deal with the issue of providing security for the country. The Opposition has a role to play but the considerably greater burden of the responsibility lies with those who have the requisite authority as well as the resources of the State at their disposal. I therefore address persons of all persuasions. Slaves were branded By their masters as a mark of ownership and one of many type of mental control techniques that the master held over his economic human asset in the slave economy. In many countries in Africa the age old tradition of marking the flesh with something hot during significant cultural ceremonies and rituals, marking life transitions and one’s completion or mastery of certain requisite skills or tasks, continues today. This branding or physically putting a mark of ownership or symbolic meaning to an individual’s affiliations and decisions continues today in many of our caribbean countries insofar as the way our politics is practiced. You are branded politically in the Federation depending on whom you marry, who your family is, what your views are, if you think for yourself and/or speak out, hence threaten the establishment. You are branded if you associate with certain people; if you even choose to talk with certain people. Once the party establishment does their rigorous assessment and determines, usually with a fair amount of accuracy, (sometimes dead wrong) that you vote one way or other, you are then carefully branded with an iron so hot, that the mark left will most assuredly be taken with you to your coffin. The relevance of how one votes or for whom one votes has taken on entirely too much meaning in our political culture. The preoccupation with one’s voting record or one’s voting tendency consumes the party faithfuls to such an extent, they can’t possibly and invariably are not, able to focus enough attention on those issues which demand vigorous energy and focus. Little wonder too little of the nation’s resources are allocated to issues such as health, education and security. Politically speaking, they are not priority issues. For some strange reason the electorate in the Caribbean allows their parliamentary representatives who have control of the executive and the legislative branches of government, a pass on these issues. So, if those three pillars (of any civilized society) remain in the dark ages By the leaders, then it is completely forgiven By the voters. Pay the police and the teachers any old thing; treat the nurses in any fashion one wishes, it’s ok. Only show that you can put down roads, build low income housing, upgrade power plants and irrigation systems and for God’s sake make sure that you pull off the master stroke and get a hotel to come. The electorate will think that you are worthy of another term in office because you are ‘building up’ the country. Never mind how people are treated; never mind that necessary reforms to education, health and/or security are neglected; don’t bother if desperately and long overdue shoring up of the security of the nation is left to a future administration. Obviously, a country cannot be built without a solid foundation of the well-being of its citizens, the health and safety of its people, nor the proper education of the masses. The electorate needs to demand more and differently of its leaders! If our politics consume us then we are finished as a country. Politics By its very nature is divisive; it is fundamentally designed to highlight differences and exploit them to the advantage of one side or other. Regrettably, we have as a country sunk to such a low that we are driven accordingly to make up and create those differences and exaggerate them. The other side is even demonized with everyone placed in the same devil pit and all to the same degree. Instead of respecting the differences in and appreciating each other, the way our politics is practiced is to revile and view with contempt anyone who appears inclined to support an opposite political party. CRIME IS MUCH EASIER TO THRIVE AND REMAIN WITH US IF WE FUNCTION AS A SOCIETY MUCH THE WAY TRIBAL WARLORDS AND ETHNIC GROUPS IN THE BALKANS, SOME COUNTRIES IN AFRICA AND ELSEWHERE FUNCTION. Crime will only be solved and reduced significantly if we come together to address it! Is it a coincidence that the worse spate of violence and general criminality that we have experienced ever is over the past three months when the country was focused on an extremely hotly contested election? 8 murders in a little more than 8 weeks is alarming, frightening and should sound a clarion call for a coming together of the generals in the war to establish a peace treaty of setting a different tone through their rhetoric and general strategy. The incumbent leader should set the example and the bar!
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