St. John’s Antigua- So I’ve been spending some time lately, long before I got the shocking news, thinking about the kind of sons I’d like to raise and parents’ role in producing good citizens.
I’m talking about children who grow up to be caring people who contribute meaningfully to their families and their communities. I’m talking about people who stand for truth and abhor injustice and are not afraid to do the right thing.
I find that, as societies the world over, we spend so much time grooming the next generation of politicians and doctors and accountants that we forget to groom the next generation of good citizens. Man can book a pleasure trip to go to outer space to see if there are other life forms but he has no interest in being his brother’s keeper.
And I figure that I was meant to ponder on these things, because in the midst of it all, I came across a report I’d edited some time ago, which reviewed the educational system, as seen through the eyes of Dorbrene O’Marde.
He said, “Rote learning and subsequent appreciation of that learned had produced men with wide international understanding and practical applications of the lessons of history and the humanities generally. Our present education system, with its damnable emphasis on what you will become, instead of who you will become, does not produce men or women like these anymore and I think our Caribbean society suffers from this unthinking change of focus.”
I concur, although I would add that the focus on the what also exists at all levels, including the home.
I remember that powerful scene from the play Fences, when the James Earl Jones character schooled his son about responsibility, expectation and life, telling him he didn’t have to like him, he just had to do right by him.
Asked the son “How come you ain’t never liked me?
“Like you?” the father scoffed. “… What law is there to say I gotta like you? … It is my job, my responsibility … it is my duty to take care of you … I don’t gotta like you.”
As harsh as that was, it was a lesson in life, especially considering that the play was set in the 1950s.
I’m not that kind of parent, though. Truth is, I talk a better game of tough love than I execute, and that’s not to say that I don’t often law down the law.
But what drives me is the knowledge that the world can be cruel and that there’s a lack of community and that we’re generally short-tempered toward each other.
I feel strongly that children need to know there is at least one place where there is unconditional love.
I join with the nation as we celebrate the life and times of Winston Derrick. He was a courageous man, a committed man, a defiant man, and a loving man. I know they don’t teach that in any book.
People have associated the lyrics of songs with Winston since his passing. On Saturday, Part of the Human Heart was my first pick. It still is.
But as we look to the next generation of leaders, a close second is Jack Johnson’s Upside Down.
Who’s to say
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks reflections fade
But in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There’s no stopping curiosity
I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found
I’ll share this love I find with everyone
We’ll sing and dance to Mother Nature’s songs
I don’t want this feeling to go away
Wish that we would imbue our children with this kind of thinking, because as much as we need doctors and lawyers, we need good and courageous citizens.
Rest in peace, Winston.