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Proactive Peace

July 13, 2010

A week ago today, I flew out of JFK in New York, island-bound. Caribbean Airlines transported me through the clouds to POS in Trinidad. I spent most of last week there, on the prowl for a comfy, clean and affordable (and apparently safe) place to live while I work towards a Masters in Cultural Studies at UWI.

Simply being in Trinidad for a week, particularly deciding on a place to live, reminded me to appreciate, in a real way, the peace we can so easily take for granted here in Grenada. Even before I got to Trinidad I was being warned about the crime. I brushed it off thinking, “People think Brooklyn is bad and yea I got my bike seat stolen but I survived overall.” I thought, it was just people outside of Trinidad who are sensationalizing it. But the gated communities and automatic weapons at the entrance of nightclubs soon made me realize that even the myth of security was in high demand. Over exaggerated or not, the stories of people being held at gunpoint or robbed while walking down the street to campus had me a little shook. Just one island over, we live with doors wide open and give rides to strangers.

Being in a place that reminded me of home in so many ways, but had this invisible threat, didn’t sit well with me. The thing is, in Grenada our sense of safety is at risk in these “trying economic times” and even before now. We saw it as “this” gang and “that” crew started coming on the scene, but at least most of them only had a cutlass at best.  One of the main sources of the problem in my opinion is “idle hands” (and minds) as the saying goes. So as Caricom discusses building a regional anti-crime force aka a bandaid for the problem… I am interested in how we put something besides guns into the hands and hearts of our population.

How do we support each other so we don’t need to turn to stealing from each other? How do we engage each other so that we stay accountable to our neighbours? How do we get the training and sense of empowerment to create more jobs in a sustainable economy? Innovative and alternative thinking is in high demand now before we need to start building gated communities and installing security cameras. Before our young men turn to gangs for a sense of purpose and belonging lets establish inter-parish sports teams and matches. Before we lack the money to keep buying imported food, that isn’t good for us to begin with, let’s turn our attention to growing and processing our own food supply. Before we give up on the job market let’s create avenues for a broader range of job training, entrepreneurial and co-operative endeavors.

How do you think we can keep crime away from our shores and boost our local economy in a sustainable way?

-Malaika

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