By Rev Canon S Sebastian Campbell
UPON observation it appears as though almost all political leaders avoid addressing the issue of home and family life, even though the evidence is indisputable that broken homes and family life is the seat of the crime epidemic.
Why are our national leaders, those elected to represent our every interest, afraid to address and raise our consciousness about so serious a concern?
I respectfully disagree with those who rate unemployment and crime as the principal issues facing this country. Rather, I advance that broken homes and immoral living are or should be made the principal issues. They are Siamese twins, destroy one and the other cannot survive.
I grew up in Arthur’s Town, at a time when family life was at a premium. They were happy, happy days even though unemployment was rife, it was never an issue; crime was in no one’s vocabulary.
Immoral living became evident with the advent of the construction of the airport when many unscrupulous men invaded the decent Christian lifestyle of our people. I remember ever so vividly the first young girl who fell prey to their whims and became pregnant. She became the talk of the town and relegated to the status of an outcast. Others who travelled this low road of morality were dealt with in like manner. Thirty years later it is the order of the day and no longer an issue.
I have observed that anytime there is a surge in crime, a politician’s response is almost always the enactment of additional laws. Change the Bail Act, build more police stations, enlarge the prison, buy more patrol cars, increase prison terms for given crimes etc.
Father Norman Lightbourne in his All Saints Day sermon rightly stated: “You can produce a million new laws and things will get progressively worse, only because leaders are afraid to deal with the real issues.”
I was most encouraged to hear Paul Adderley with similar sentiments when addressing the issue in Parliament. “Nothing is going to change,” he said, “until we get to the real enemy. Crime is only a manifestation of a devastating cancerous sore. These bandages we use are too costly and are getting us nowhere.”
I preached at the funeral of one Mr Minnis, who was gunned down at his bar room on Mackey Street. The culprits are still at large. I advanced then as I do now, that the tragedy was due to our collective failure in leadership to do what must be done or at least begin to, because one must realise that we didn’t get into this pandemonium overnight and we will not get out overnight.
We have not even begun to scratch the surface. As that wife and mother uncontrollably dealt with the tragedy it ought to have struck the heart of all those with even an iota of influence in this country to gather fortitude and rally all decent Bahamians to combat the problem.
It is estimated that 71 per cent of all our children today are illegitimate, which means that they have no resident fathers, and in fact many have no fathers at all. This creates a serious problem in such a small Christian country. We must uphold the institution of marriage as ideal.
Marriage must be hailed as the only socially acceptable vehicle through which children are to come into this world. The abnormal has become the norm, this should not be tolerated and its demise must be our goal. The late venerable William Thompson spoke glowingly of the years when legitimate children far outnumbered illegitimate children brought for baptism at St Agnes. “It happened before and it can happen again,” he challenged.
Statistics also show during the last 25 years 29 per cent – or 41,786 births – were to mothers who were between the ages of 10 and 19. This represents 15 per cent of the Bahamas’ present population. This is a national dilemma and disgrace. How much longer are we going to glorify teen pregnancy or illegitimacy? An unmarried young lady, approaching her 40th birthday, told me that she is under pressure from her family and friends to go ahead and have her first child. Our national mind has lost its moral standards. I question those who celebrate pregnancy of unwed mothers with showers and cigars. What is more shocking is that our teenage birth rate is twice that of the US.
I cannot understand why good looking, educated women allow themselves to fall to the stupidity of being unwed mothers.
The alarming divorce rate ought to bother our national mind. In the first six months it was estimated that we had more than 300 applications for divorce. There was an untold number of separations and those for social pride stick it out in ‘hell hole’ in intended homes. Our children are many or all of the times the major victims of these breakdowns in home and family life. Many are traumatised and nervous beings, who feel unloved and unwanted. Human nature being what it is will lead them to search for havens of comfort and acceptability which can and are leading many into gangs, homosexual and lesbian communities, crime, cults, and the likes. What are we to do?
1. A national campaign comprising our collective leadership must be intentional.
2. We must separate studs from fathers and slackers from mothers. Call a spade a spade.
3. All our institutions, chiefly the public service and the church, must invest money in training counsellors to deal with the matter.
4. We must demand moral excellence from those in leadership and institute a moral code of behaviour for those, especially teachers, who are ultimately responsible for moulding character.
5. Exercise better stewardship with our wealth and include all our islands in our national development so as to redistribute our population.