It is bottomless sorrow when the parents have to bury their children. It is worse when a child is lost in violent confrontation with others who believe that violence is the answer to all disputes. Nothing can match the awesome pain of a mother who loses her child in such circumstances. At the funeral service of a young man I saw a mother whose contorted face told a story of inestimable loss as from the organ flowed ribbons of sad sounds. For some it will be the opportunity for analysis, be it political or theological, which is their way of finding comfort. Some will be angry, fearful, and some will be unforgiving, sounding off to all who would listen, about the redeeming graces of their own child who they boast would never be involved in such things.
Waitikubuli is like a small town with a population of 70,000. Any one part is like a community within a community. The loss of any life especially young and in violent circumstances takes something from us all. The community loses big time. We are like islands in the stream, no one in between. Those who are unforgiving will learn that security is an illusion. Bob Marley put it in song, “When the rain falls it doh fall on one man housetop.” The vast majority of our people of all faiths and ambitions will live within the common humanity, but there will always be those driven by broken homes, discrimination and hatred who will strike out, in spectacularly violent ways.
The point is what can we do? So many almost automatically start to blame the media, but is the mainstream media failing to represent the social, economic and cultural challenges of our island? It must be admitted that the media is devoted to entertainment and manipulation of political information from all sides. Some journalists who act according to professional ethics and codes of conduct have a hard time and their reporting is more often nowadays termed as treasonous. Personal integrity and true and accurate reporting without diluting the facts draw angry protests from politicians and supporters and the word journalist becomes synonymous with ‘trouble-maker.’ My support of the work being done by investigative journalist Lennox Linton has caused me grief as some believe that the only true journalist is the one that supports the ruling regime.
But we all have to play a part in the solutions of the problems of the youth of our nation, and journalist must not feel themselves trapped in a spider web of self censorship out of fear of both the corporate and political bosses preventing them from going deep into the issues which face our relatively young nation. If DBS would use its wide outreach capability, not to compete with the private stations, but to use its voice strategically as a truly educational radio broadcaster, programming to and for the schools, then we can truly see the power of radio used for the education of young people in particular. This position I have held for quite some time and have advanced to those who could make it happen, but all to no avail despite the consolation remarks of “we see your point, but you know blah, blah.”
TV can play a major role in the thought processes of our youth. Our TV, shows the same soap operas, news, programs that you see in the USA, Latin America, other Caribbean islands and other parts of the world where US Cable is relayed.. There is no defining Dominican identity on our screens. Clearly we need TV with a sense of mission, and a vision of national interests. But the government channel which may be the only one with the capability of finding the necessary funds and indeed has the responsibility to do so, is now mainly used as the channel for government public relations and replays of ruling party political campaign rallies and shooting down of opponents.
Our TV is mainly urban centred and not many times do the cameras get to the farmers plantations, except if someone dies in strange circumstances or a government minister wants a photo opportunity. The media can help, but media workers must be trained to assist. The question of funding to provide the programs that may make a difference also arises. It may be that our national budget should now be aimed at our social problems in addition to our housekeeping problems of infrastructure and physical development.
As carnival jump-up days approach, parents begin to worry about whether their child will simply disappear without a trace as happened to the two youths in the Stock Farm area or get through this revelry without harm. This should not be as carnival is a time of fun for all and a time to forget political, class and creed differences and the rich should party with the poor. Yet carnival is also a time that allows free expression in hours of “sewoing” which encourages alcohol drinking, participation in illicit drug activity and low resistance levels influencing toxic youth behavior with very undesirable outcomes. I would urge that in the schools and through the media a huge campaign is launched to counter what may come upon us as a result. It is not good enough to sing lamentations on radio after the carnival for a week or two and then forget it until the next time. For this carnival let us do better than that.
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