Being better than we are
High-profile crimes re-emphasize the challenges we face as a people. The whole country was saddened at the killing of Inspector Carlis Blatch last week. Blatch, the aide-de-camp to Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling, was shot in what police think was a robbery attempt outside H.O. Nash Junior High School while picking up his child. He died at hospital.
Having had five murder records in the 10 years between 2007 and 2017, there have been too many killings. Many have been disputes between lost young men stuck in the cycle of poverty, ignorance and violence.
More police visibility, better prosecutions and faster trials would help in the response to crime, but they will not erase the urge of too many of our people in New Providence to kill.
We lost ourselves in the 1970s and 1980s when the drug culture exploded here. Families were broken up. Mothers and fathers chased highs and fast money instead of raising their children. Our public institutions were corrupted by dirty money.
We now have successive generations in inner-city communities who were brought up by the morality of the streets.
Then there is the education problem. The D average masks even more systemic collapse in our public education system. Private schools and state schools on the Family Islands bring that average up to a D. Mediocre instruction, a poor curriculum, inadequate facilities and overcrowded classes are part of the everyday educational environment of the majority who live on our most populous island. Added to that is a culture that does not value learning and academic achievement.
In this context is a people who have struggled from the incomplete social revolution led initially by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) at majority rule. The bulk of the population still has not caught up in terms of wealth, education, housing and opportunity.
The decade of the financial crisis accentuated these problems. In the fall of 2008 a catastrophic collapse occurred leading to thousands being out of work, a mortgage-housing crisis and general hardship.
There is no one factor behind our crime problem. There is, therefore, no one solution.
We need more robust economic growth; we need more consistent police presence on the streets and better case preparation; we need to reduce the backlog in the courts; we need better teachers and schools; we need parents who are more committed to raising their children; we need a culture that values honesty and hard work.
Some of these changes must be led by government policy. Some need to be led by each of us in our homes.
We must do better in addressing all our deficits in order for there to be a sustained decrease in crime and violence. It’s easy to beat up on the government of the day for its failings. But we must also as individuals do more to shape positively and productively the young people we rear.
The greatest wealth of nations is their people. We must commit to investing more in our young to prevent them from staying the course of the lost generations presently making havoc. When we do better as a state and as parents and guardians there will be less crime.
We must do better. We lost too many good people the past decade. It’s a lie that only bad people have killed bad people. Some push that lie to make themselves feel better about our collective failure.
The Bahamas could be so much better. It should be. The current state of affairs is far, far from where we ought to be.