Post Hurricane Maria recovery is what most of our populace have been focused on. Despite these efforts a desire to usher in 2018 with a sense of purpose and joy must have been deep seated within us. Certainly, none of us anticipated the latest dreadful occurrence of yet another horrible death by gunshot in the Town of Portsmouth. Not that we didn’t think this could ever happen, but it is just not the thing anyone would have liked to happen. Obviously, this created a dreary and gloomy new year’s observance for Town folks, especially friends and families of the fallen and those of the perpetrators’.
Sadly some among us will immediately seek to shut down this expression with the notion that when things like these happen around us we are just mere reactionaries. Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with being reactionary. Still, this characteristic must and should be complemented with a level of action before the fact, or probably as a means of preventing such occurrences. So, yes there may be a level of value in the criticism, but it is not sufficient and should not be used as a tool to shut down future endeavors to address this problem in our society.
Clearly, Portsmouth is not the only place with this problem where young men kill each other with guns, but this happens too frequently among our people; besides it is also one that seems like a bad wound that never cures. If we have to chronicle the number of such deaths, and or disappearances and injuries which occurred through guns, and or some sort of violence among our young people (men in particular), then this is too many.
Their names are written in the history of our town, their blood stains have mingled with the dust of our grounds and have blown to and fro in our air-circle, and their memories are etched in the hearts of their loved ones. Each of these boys was the son of a woman and a man. Each had loved-ones of some sort including siblings, extended families and classmates. None was born ‘bad’, none was handed a gun by the medical personnel who aided with his birth, not one of them was a drug dealer or pusher at pre-school. Instead, each of them lived plain and simple lives overall. As a matter of fact, quite a number of them grew up in relatively modest homes where both parents were present, faith was an element of their upbringing, and they all got opportunities to acquire some form of education both formally and non-formally. Further, some of these guys played sports, they had girlfriend (s), laughed, smiled, cried, loved and even prayed throughout their lives. They were normal people who learned what it is to hate. The perpetrators [some caught and some unknown] can easily fit into a similar social construct.
The point I am making is that, these young men though often seen as scary, dangerous, wicked, violent, ugly, hateful, and uncaring, and all the cold-hearted names that can be picked from the dictionary, are or have been normal people. Yes, they are people too and they all have souls whether they believe, or accept that or reject the fact. The greatest part of them is that soul.
Unfortunately, they have strayed to zones of dangerous scales where the point of no return often lurks. They seem to constantly dip their feet and heads in unison fearlessly into the shadows of death created by themselves; thereby, increasing the possibility of succumbing to the inevitable life-snatcher.
It is neither my place to condemn, nor judge the victims and the perpetrators of such senseless murders in the town, but it would be naïve of me to think that the element of Drugs is not a factor there. Truthfully, many of these young men are or have been involved in the illegal drug trade and are in the business of turf-protection, getting-even for their fallen ‘padner (s)’ killing the competitor to win the market, seeking revenge for unpaid debts, to name a few. As a matter of fact, post Maria one can notice the latest newly and or reinforced blocks / hot-spots in various hamlets of our community. More cause for concerns these create.
While some parents hate the idea and are fighting their children’s involvements in this dangerous trade relentlessly, others are quiet, supportive and are employing ‘soutiwehism’ on a regular basis in dealing with this problem. To quote a recent calypso by De Webb, when they are caught by the law or end up dead, their mothers especially cry “he was a nice boy…” For sure he was a nice boy when he was a baby and even for the most part of his primary to some secondary school years, but alas, some parents do a lousy job at raising their sons. Some love the boys too much to correct them, and others are actually and literally afraid of the sons they spoiled rotten. As a result these parents allow these boys to do whatever they want in their homes and yards with no ‘balls’ (no pun intended) to stop them.
The question that lurks is; what can be done about this dreadful and heartbreaking situation? When gunshots go off at any time of the day many innocent people can get caught between them. When our boys are killing each other at such rates, many children will be left fatherless, many girlfriends left heartbroken, many parents left to mourn and our societies’ population become unhealthily imbalanced gender-wise. This is a real problem, which is bigger than a quick huge sum of money that goes up in the smokes emanating from loud exhausts around the town, and huge gold chains wrapped around illegal firearms.
No society is really immune to crimes, but a small population like ours cannot support this mess that is plaguing us. Many of our people (youth and elders) live in fear from this phenomenon and silently so.
Despite the need for a Spiritual overhaul in many circles, there is a serious need for a social intervention among our people. Many of our young men have chosen this as a livelihood, a career, as if there is no other way to live. They have decided is do or die, and won’t lift a finger to “work for man” for little money while they can make one quick run and hit the jackpot – and do they ever hit a satisfactory jackpot?
Some are meanwhile recruited by the drug-barons and serve as middle-men manning several cells. Most times it is at the middle-man to the cells level that the blood is being shed, – sadly so. The bigger-bosses who profit at high rates sit pretty while the enslavement of our boys breed murder, hate, violence and a culture of death in an already hurting society.
With that known fact, it is clear that though we wish for a conversion, some minds may never change. Notwithstanding this knowledge, can we save a few lives from getting caught in this web of destruction? I bet we can if as a collective we approach this problem head on.
Yes we must pray, – oh, I believe in the power of prayer, but we must also join some social advocacy to address this matter sooner rather than later. Who is with me? I don’t have the answers at all, but I am willing to explore some with you. Can you share your thoughts on what we can do as a way forward? My social conscience is aching and for too long now. Are you with me?
- Are you with me? If Yes – What are your suggestions and or ideas to save our boys from further self & others’ distruction?