EDITOR, The Tribune.
Last night in a social setting a video was shown about one of our athletes who has been experiencing the most challenging time one can imagine. While the video was heartbreaking what was most disturbing were the negative comments coming from some of the people in the group. It makes one wonder what happened to us as a people. When did we become so cold and uncaring?
I see and talk with him often he wanted me to share his story.
As he soared through the air the crowd cheered him on with shouts of “go boy go you gat this one”. When he touched the ground with a record breaking jump he was greeted with hugs and cheers from his coach, family, friends and fans. His name headlined the sports section of every newspaper.
And then it happened.
One night at a party celebrating his gold medal victory while smoking a joint the champ was introduced to the white lady.
On most days you can see him walking between the Esso Service Station and Bamboo Shack on Soldier Road. Sometimes he is pushing a cart but most of the time he is just walking around begging to get something to eat.
While some of us respond in a sympathetic way others snub him by either rolling up our car windows or turn up our noses and look the other way.
How quickly we forget.
Just a few years ago we were at the stadium cheering him on. We used to go to the meets just to watch him participate. Now here we are ignoring and scorning this man whose name was in every track and field fan’s mouth.
When cocaine first made its unassuming debut on the party scene in the Bahamas before it hit the streets it was labeled “the chic drug.” It was socially acceptable mostly among the elite. So when some young athletes, musicians and other glamorous professionals who had quick rises to fame, were introduced to cocaine’s seductive charm it became the perfect match for an affair. Some were seduced and enamoured by the white lady before they ever reach the top.
The outcome of the story is different for each individual. Many managed to free themselves from her embrace and find a way to overcome the addiction and have even helped others get back on track.
However, far too often, the story has ended with someone’s career coming to a close at an early stage. Sadly, in some of the more extreme cases, lives are cut short.
When you pass him on the streets he looks like someone you know but you are not sure because the person you know who looks like him would never be a street beggar.
So you don’t stop because you believe if it is him he could do better.
And you are right he could do better but he loves being an addict and would rather beg.
He prefers to scrounge through the garbage bins and go to war with the rats over something to eat rather than be some business executive or the track star he used to be.
We shuck him out of our lives without looking back.
Saying if he wants he can stop his foolishness.
He never mentions family and you may ask what about his family. “Right, what about his family?
“Well aren’t we all God’s children, isn’t he our brother?
“When you’re down and out
“When you’re on the street
“When evening falls so hard
And pain is all around
“I will comfort you “
So we practise tough love.
Tough love is supposed to be a strict, but kind way of dealing with someone who has a problem. But more emphasis is placed on tough and not so much on kind.
National Institutes of Health noted that “get tough treatments do not work and there is some evidence that they may make the problem worse”.
It brings to mind the prodigal son. We all know the story. The prodigal son went off to some distant land and wasted his inheritance. Fell on hard times and even shared swill with the pigs. The broken-hearted father wanting to bring him back home searched all over, but could not find him. So he waited at the street corner praying that his long lost son would return.
Our brother who is right on Soldier Road between Esso Service Station and Bamboo Shack....Just a kind word away from our embrace, why aren’t we reaching out to him?
We don’t have to go searching for him .Why don’t we bring him home ?
This young man, this brother that brought us so much laughter and joy as we cheered him on at the tracks. Will we continue to practise tough love and let him dig through the garbage cans for something to eat until we attend his homegoing celebration where we will tell stories of how great an athlete he was ...Or will we bring him home.
“That’s what friends are for
“For good times and bad times
“I’ll be on your side forever more
“That’s what friends are for”
March 1, 2020.