THE EDITOR: The cry of lamentation fills the land and in our desperation we continue to apply quick fixes like the pundits who pontificate and hardly any one listens to, like marches in the city with placards strewn in the dust afterwards, soon to be forgotten, like the recent proliferation of ads in the media, gaudy and melodramatic, inviting merely a cursory glance, like the call to come forward and give evidence which for many is suicidal, inter alia, all in an attempt at self-assurance, that at least we are doing something, trying something, which we must, to avoid the “hell”, the anarchy on our doorstep.
And we take this approach for we have little understanding of the root cause of this devilry in which we are now in up to our necks, its true nature, how far it is from the superficial sore that a plaster will fix as many of us think, that instead, it is deep festering infestation now erupting out of years of indifference and neglect, as with the politics first and foremost, racist and divisive, the ultimate expediency for serving the self, both for leaders and tribe to the sacrifice of serving the interests of all the people, and fostering all those attendant values which are the hallmark of decent, civilized and progressive living.
Out of this travesty in the politics would have come the institutional break-down that is evident everywhere, first with the family which, being on the receiving end of the “freeness” associated with such tribal politics, would have seen it convenient to abdicate its responsibility to its siblings, failing to grow them in “stature and in favour with God and Man”, but instead to look for the easy way out, for a hand out, for a CEPEP “wuk”, for a HDC house, not to see education as the way forward, the greater attraction being the US$500 coming from the traffic of Shorty’s "little white powder” but not seeing the quick death which attends it, the report card coming from the school becoming an annoying anomaly more suited to the dustbin!
And the school, with its evolving, intrinsic inequality, prestige against government, breeding in the latter the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, finding sustenance in sex and drugs instead of a visit to the library, leading to the dropout culture which the officially sanctioned sharks are just waiting to exploit. The church also, victim of this pervasive institutional lag, seems in its traditional mode to be elitist to the core, only for the “elect”, and the new lot, more so in the “business “of the “saved”, as a recent media investigation suggests, hardly the “refuge and strength” for the “lowly" and those without the means, who are left to wander in the “wilderness,” becoming easy prey to the malcontents ever ready to take them into the fold.
With the criminal mind-set now well established through the neglect of these foundational institutions above, how can the justice system act as counter, now with its well-known ineptitude and its main players wallowing in the now established contradiction of being the system’s shame rather than its beacon? The only thing that holds a society together is the law and respect for it and out of this comes the moral, ethical and professional code that are the key ingredients in the ties that bind a nation together, but evidently, much of this is lost – the publication of half – pictures of criminals who continue to operate with impunity being a graphic case in point – without which it can only degenerate into anarchy.
So, marches and speeches melodramatic ads, even the Bail Bill, minimally useful as they can be, are in fact merely the psychology of a desperate people appearing to do something, putting mere plasters on a festering sore that would eventually become the leprosy that consumes us. In every sphere of our existence the code of civilized living seem to be non-existent, with a politics that is one of self rather than service, a judiciary which seems to have lost its moral authority, an education system that is essentially discriminatory, a religious framework which is sectarian and elitist seemingly only for the saved, where family love for siblings is substituted for by a love for money, where in our everyday living subterfuge and deceit have become the order of the day.
With this generation virtually lost we can only focus on the next, using these now beleaguered institutions of the present to turn the tide into love, respect, principle in all that we do and say for the future, but most of all to use our education system to bring about a new generation of young people whose capacity to think critically becomes their personal intellectual culture with a natural propensity to make informed, intelligent choices about the world in which they live.
Therein lies our future!
DR ERROL N BENJAMIN