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The Red Bull syndrome
While progressive youth all over the world are rushing to forge the destiny of their nations, our youth are rushing to fulfil the aspirations of a drinks promoter. In North Africa and the Middle East, they fight to rid themselves of imperialist puppets, hereditary dictatorships. In Latin America they march to buttress progressive regimes, or to attack inequitable policy decisions. In the metro-politan West, in the US, Canada, Scandinavia, western Europe, they march against the IMF, the World Bank, war, trade liberalisation, unfair trade. They climb walls, wreck barriers, ram their ships between whalers and whales, build multi-billion-dollar software companies. They even fight for us, our nations.
On Sunday, our youth were fighting, through horrendous traffic, to get to a place of fun; but ultimately to promote a US$4 billion mega corporation. Two, or perhaps three, died. How did our youth get here? Everywhere our children are born free; everywhere they crawl in the chains of uncaring and abuse. It cannot be the fault of the youth; it is the fault of the adult generations. Some will knock about their children, pinch, push, slap them, shout as if they were ready to tear up their offsprings; the impact of hostility between spouses: over money, infidelity, light or heavy drugs; they abuse and torture the souls of their offsprings, in mini torture cells called bedrooms, out of desperation, frustration, mad anger over seeming nothings.
These children live in a whirlwind of hell, cannot protect themselves, cannot grasp the incredulity of the protector-demon/demon-protector syn- drome. These demon-guardians reap for the society self-violators and violators. Some will sexually abuse the children about them: big brothers, cousins, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, grandparents. Some walls are built to protect, some built to protect abuse. Some will forsake their own children in their own homes: gone liming, cricket, beach, curry duck lime, shopping in mall, fete, to be with the paramour, the deputy. Or even forsake them to be on the computer, Facebook, the fridge, the couch, the TV, the phone. And some forsake them for jobs, both mother and father. Busy, busy, busy. Job, job, job. Traffic, grocery and mortgage. Not enough time. Exhausted when it is time for “quality time.”
Some will abandon their children to the schools. The school is the biggest daycare centre for the uncaring and indifferent parent. The school will take care of the child’s training: the reading, the writing, the spelling, the sports, the behaviour. The teacher was invented to rescue this parent from the constraints of time. Not one day will he take the child on his knees, read a book, show him to spell a word, go teach him to run, to box, to swim, to paint a picture. Some will separate from their spouses. Single parents who are strong may be good. But single parents who are unskilled, unsupported or weak are disasters. Children become pawns, collateral damage in the spousal war. Some become spoilt, indisciplined; lacking firm guidance, counsel, love and parental bulk to be around.
Some adults, parents, teachers, principals, educators, Ministries of Education, abandon children in the schools. Weak or poor programmes in literacy, numeracy, teamwork and leadership, sports, music, technology, language. Harassed teachers, teachers trapped, students trapped. Too large class size. Prison-like surroundings: the wired dens and aluminium louvre-type enclosures. At the end of the SEA syndrome the minister rushes to pose with the victors, the “top” 100 or “top” 250. Where are the “bottom” 10,000 who cannot read or write? And how many of the “top” ones have graduated with the competence in teamwork, leadership, in one musical instrument, one sporting discipline, one language?
Some adults abandon them in secondary schools. Many do not have the skills to cope and they rebel. There is chronic unemployment in this system. The unemployment of creativity and energy. Creative and volatile souls are made to sit day in, day out, teacher after teacher, session after session, suffering programmes which cannot challenge. The “top” ones are taught to fit nicely into a failed status quo; the “bottom” ones are going to be made unemployable and cannot fit into the failed status quo. Some adults fill the stomach of their offsprings with the most noxious of foods and drinks. Fast food, soft drinks, microwave diets, lumps of processed sugars in some snacks. The incidence of heart disease, cancers, diabetes, chronic overweight will add billions to our health costs in this century if this method of feeding our young continues.
How does this method of slow death contrast with starving infants in refugee camps—another abuse arising from adult wars—on the Horn of Africa? Some energy drinks contain traces of cocaine, too much sugar, and are of dubious benefits to the health; we flock to Chaguaramas to fulfil the aspirations of Red Bull. Two killed, as part of the promotion, and half the others dammed in traffic. The best of our genius employed to sell Red Bull; or it could have been paper, lightbulbs, condoms, computers, paperclips, fast food or any sugar-juice.
How do we build teams and leaders to work on actual solutions to everyday problems, respond to everyday atrocities in the republic? A revolution in the primary school system is the best place to start.
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