MAY 15 of every year is designed the International Day of Families by the United Nations (UN), reflecting the pivotal role the family plays in social transformation and sustainable development.
In anticipation, we join with the UN in promoting awareness of issues relating to families to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them. At the same time, we issue a special plea for our country to unite as one and to fulfil the promise so grandly stated in our national anthem that promises all an equal place. It is time to put differences aside. It’s time to be one Famalay, to borrow the title of this year’s Road March.
The recent interest in the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son was a reminder that families come in all shapes and sizes. For the first time, the British royal family has a baby born to an American mother and with an Afro-Caribbean heritage. The fascination and interest in this matter internationally belied how families have come to be too rigidly defined.
We in the Caribbean, however, understand perhaps better than anywhere else how societies mix and merge, how family bonds are not limited by race. But though our understanding of the family unit is more diverse than elsewhere, families here are increasingly facing challenges. And not from the usual suspects.
Crime is wiping families out. The murders of the Garcia-Quintero family of Palmiste, who were found shot to death in their red Nissan Frontier van on the southbound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway in Golconda, in April, remains subject to police investigation. Earlier this month, a woman and her parents were brutally chopped by a man while at their Santa Flora home. But the Choon family were wiped out by something even more insidious. A father, mother and their two children were found dead in a secluded back road in Toco in an apparent murder-suicide. What could have driven anyone to such a thing?
Clearly, when we think about family life we need to think about more than just how the family is defined. Each family wields tremendous power and has the capacity to change individuals. Abuse of power, so common in our public life these days, starts in the home. Instead of obsessing who gets to adopt, who gets to be called mother and father, who should have custody, who we think should or should not fall in love, we should be arming children and communities against sexual degradation and exploitation. Child abuse is too rampant.
Parents must also ensure they take care to safeguard the well-being of their charges. The actions of some parents over the SEA examination is a sign that this is not fully appreciated. Today is a good moment to think about how to change this.