For Too Many Young Peo­ple In Cri­sis

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won­der how many read­ers of this col­umn are fa­mil­iar with the word “mon­de­green?” I cer­tainly was not be­fore I bumped into it while look­ing up the lyrics for Bring­ing in

the Sheep and serendip­i­tously stum­bled upon Bring­ing in the

Sheaves, writ­ten by Knowles Shaw and based on Psalm 126:6—“He that goeth forth and weep­eth, bear­ing pre­cious seed, shall doubt­less come again with re­joic­ing, bring­ing his sheaves with him.”

I now know a “mon­de­green,” is a mis­un­der­stood or mis­in­ter­preted word or phrase re­sult­ing from a mis­hear­ing of the lyrics of a song. In the Scot­tish bal­lad The Bonny Earl

of Mur­ray the line “laid him on the green” is of­ten mis­heard as “Lady Mon­de­green.” In the 1874 Shaw com­po­si­tion “sheaves” is of­ten mis­heard as “sheep,” “sheets,” “chiefs” and yes, “cheese.” By the way, ”sheaves” is the plu­ral of “sheath,” which is a bun­dle of grain.

We have our own lo­cal clas­sic mon­de­green . Re­mem­ber Herb Black’s I am

for King ... Are You For King? Re­mem­ber how nearly ev­ery­one mis­heard “for King?”

And now that we’re all abruptly so much wiser it re­mains to re­mind our­selves we are hu­man, not sheep; de­spite we con­tinue to demon­strate char­ac­ter­is­tics pe­cu­liarly ovine! Con­sider the fol­low­ing: “There is no need for me to re­call the elab­o­rate prom­ises made dur­ing the last elec­toral cam­paign. We are all fa­mil­iar with the prom­ises. We heard the solemn prom­ises to turn the coun­try around in six months to a year . . . Any school child can call the bluff on all the dodges, ex­cuses and pre­var­i­ca­tions that con­tinue to be the stock-in­trade of our govern­ment. But th­ese ma­m­aguy­ing tech­niques can­not ef­face the re­al­ity of our ex­is­tence; noth­ing can wipe away the cen­tral fact that Saint Lu­cia has made lit­tle or no progress since the last gen­eral elec­tion. Al­most four years have slipped away. The govern­ment is now left face-to-face with its own wrong­head­ed­ness; its own de­cep­tion and its own in­com­pe­tence.

“Our peo­ple are plagued by un­em­ploy­ment and low in­comes. They suf­fer from mal­nu­tri­tion and many chil­dren die as a con­se­quence. Many live with hous­ing con­di­tions un­fit for hu­man be­ings. Poor education and il­lit­er­acy con­tinue to ham­per our de­vel­op­ment. Most Saint Lu­cians have such lim­ited ac­cess to ba­sic health fa­cil­i­ties that their lot is a life of dis­ease, phys­i­cal suf­fer­ing and early death.”

Now take a deep breath, dear reader, slowly ex­hale be­fore you read on: “Our youth see this so­ci­ety, not through the rose-tinted glasses of our prime min­is­ter who tells us about in­creased tourism ar­rivals and the ho­tel projects un­der­way and

I to come, there­fore ev­ery­thing in the gar­den is rosy. Our youth are the ones sit­ting on the bot­tom rung of sur­vival in this so­ci­ety. They are the ones who know how rosy is the stench of the ghetto. They are the ones grub­bing for pen­nies to keep body and soul to­gether. The ones wait­ing end­lessly for promised jobs. They are the ones be­ing hunted down and killed for smok­ing a joint. They are the ones jailed for petty crime while the big-shot crooks go scot-free.

“It is clear the en­tire com­mu­nity of jus­tice has taken a se­vere beat­ing. The im­age of the po­lice has been se­verely tar­nished and the prime min­is­ter has dis­played a to­tal lack of prin­ci­ple and ut­ter con­tempt for law and or­der. The les­son has not es­caped the youth of Saint Lu­cia. It has fed their cyn­i­cism. It has re­in­forced the cor­rup­tion in govern­ment and the po­lice. It has given solid proof of po­lice bru­tal­ity. It has proved con­clu­sively that there are sick, ruth­less killers op­er­at­ing un­der the cloak of po­lice work. It has shown politi­cians can ma­nip­u­late the mag­is­tracy and the po­lice. It has proved, fi­nally, in Saint Lu­cia there is no jus­tice.”

So, my fel­low Saint Lu­cians, I ask you: Where do we go from here? It’s as if we have de­cided to re­main as help­less sheep look­ing on while our in­sane shep­herds burn down the grass that feeds us and the sheds that of­fer shel­ter from the sun and rain. A few among us, rem­i­nis­cent of the so-called house nig­gers of an­other time of hor­ror, I dare to say, ruled by our in­sa­tiable bel­lies and not by our in­tel­li­gence, sui­ci­dally sup­port the bru­tal­ity meted out to our fel­low en­slaved, obliv­i­ous of the in­evitabil­ity that sooner or later it will be our turn to be dragged bleat­ing into the slaugh­ter­house.

On Wed­nes­day, An­dre Paul took a call from a young man whose voice he quickly rec­og­nized. “Hello,” said the host of What Makes You Mad? “how’re you do­ing?” The caller said noth­ing had changed since his last call, when he had in­formed An­dre of his plans to join ISIS.

“But why would you want to do that?” asked the host. “I know things are not all that rosy and many young peo­ple are frus­trated. But you have to be strong” blah-blah-blah-blah.

The young man was hav­ing none of that. He rat­tled off sev­eral rea­sons why he had come to the con­clu­sion that “there is no jus­tice in this coun­try and there never will be un­til some­thing is done about the per­pet­u­a­tors of in­jus­tice.”

“Wait a minute, caller,” An­dre pleaded. “I wouldn’t say there is no jus­tice. I agree things could be bet­ter but that doesn’t mean no­body gets jus­tice in . . .”

The young man cut him short. “How can things ever get bet­ter when you have rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple who care only for them­selves?” He said in ef­fect that par­lia­ment com­prised not one but two op­po­si­tion groups that did noth­ing but op­pose one an­other, with no thought for the peo­ple.

For at least fif­teen min­utes An­dre sought to reach the caller’s soul with his Bi­ble- tinted ad­vice. He wasted his time. The caller said he had no fight with peo­ple and their faith. What he cared about was the wall-to-wall in­jus­tice. He touched on IMPACS, the bro­ken jus­tice sys­tem, the ne­glect of those “who don’t have a big name” and so on. By now An­dre had all but sur­ren­dered the floor. It was quite clear to him that his caller was ed­u­cated and quite able to make his case with­out the host’s as­sis­tance.

“Do you have a job?” asked the host, some­what des­per­ately. The caller chuck­led. “My frus­tra­tion has noth­ing to do that,” he said. “I have a slave job with a slave mas­ter who doesn’t pay for over­time . . . but I can live with that.” What he could not live with, by all he said, was the of­fi­cial at­ti­tude.

“But ISIS . . . “Again his caller cut him off at the pass.

“Don’t tell me about ISIS,” he said, “I know all I need to know

about what they are about and I will join them. They know what they are do­ing and those who join them know why they’re join­ing.” (In the U.S. the caller would by this junc­ture have been ar­rested and charged un­der an­titer­ror­ism laws . . . but this is Saint Lu­cia. We’re not quite there—yet!)

He soon got around to sui­cide bombers. “But don’t get me wrong,” he told An­dre. “I will not blow my­self up. I just need to get my hand on some guns . . .”

“To do what?” asked An­dre.

And his caller said: “What do peo­ple do with guns?”

“Caller,” said An­dre, “al­though I have a job don’t think things are easy for me. Things are tough even for peo­ple with jobs.”

The caller struck back at light­ning speed: “You’re do­ing fine. I was talk­ing to a woman the other day and she told me she was a ten­ant of yours.”

“Oh, but the house she rents does not be­long to me. It be­longs to some­one else!” You could tell at this point that des­per­a­tion was ware­hous­ing in the ra­dio host’s liver.

From all the caller shared with An­dre and his au­di­ence, there is good rea­son to be­lieve he is not alone, that there are oth­ers right here in Saint Lu­cia who had been brought by their cir­cum­stances to the des­per­ate place the caller now in­hab­its. The word is Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony: Is he more con­cerned with his FB im­per­son­ators than with the harsh re­al­i­ties of life in Saint Lu­cia 37 years af­ter In­de­pen­dence? that ISIS has been re­cruit­ing in Ja­maica and Trinidad and who knows where else? As if al­ready the writ­ing were not on the wall, less than three hours later the news was out that a young woman had been raped at her work­place at gun­point by two an­i­mals in men’s cloth­ing, in broad day­light. The po­lice also took the op­por­tu­nity to men­tion a pre­vi­ously un­re­ported rape of a Bri­tish tourist at her ho­tel.

Re­mark­ably, the call­ers to Wed­nes­day’s Newsspin were not nearly as out­raged by the lat­est rapes as they were about what they per­ceived to be more piss­ing in their eyes by of­fi­cials say­ing it’s rain.

As we get ready to party this 37th an­niver­sary of our In­de­pen­dence, some food for thought. The quoted four para­graphs at the start of this fea­ture, though they read like an on-the-spot re­port on the cur­rent state of Saint Lu­cia, were writ­ten by the late Ge­orge Od­lum ref­er­enc­ing the pe­riod 1982 to 1986—yes, al­most 30 years ago!

Yes, in­deed, per­haps the time has come for bring­ing in not only those who profit by pre­tend­ing to be sheep but also their blood-suck­ing vampire-shep­herds. Which, I sup­pose, was the mes­sage at the heart of An­dre Paul’s caller!

You bin warned, pil­grim!

De­ceased Ge­orge Od­lum: Were he to make a re­turn visit to Saint Lu­cia to­day he would dis­cover how lit­tle pos­i­tive change has oc­curred since he de­parted this vale of fears!

An­dre Paul: The host of What Makes Me Mad tried his ut­most to per­suade a de­ter­mined caller to Wed­nes­day’s show that

Christ is the an­swer to his prob­lems.

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