Columns

It's full time for sensible choices

Barbara GLOUDON

Friday, February 14, 2014    

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WHAT was the headmaster thinking the other morning when he donned his senatorial, sartorial best and set out to edify — or so he must have thought — his fellow travellers in the Upper Chamber, and the nation at large, on how to heal its wounds? Beg more money from China? Move us to Abu Dhabi, where we could all drive big cars? Don't be ridiculous.

Do you think he was joking when he proposed that we limit the poor to two pickney? (Sorry! He must have said offspring, or some other non-patois nomenclature. When you are the headmaster, you eschew the common lingo.)

Although there has been some measure of denial by him as to what he said and what he meant, it appears that what he wants is for the nation to put brakes on those persons who insist on walking the PATH to sustain themselves at the taxpayers' expense. Why should they and their numerous children be housed, clothed and fed from the nation's purse? So, let's reduce their numbers and curtail their capacity to reproduce. That will show them. Really?!

I do believe that the headmaster spoke from the abundance of his heart. Later, he seemed to be backing up on the issue of what method of curtailment could be used. Obviously, headmaster hadn't thought it through. It would certainly make things a little less dense if he had just said he didn't know what he was talking about. He has since admitted to saying that "he's not actually proposing a two-child policy, but if somebody brings the matter to him, he will support it." Huh?! At least he didn't lay claim to the old family planning slogan of the 70s: "Two is better than too many". If the headmaster was around in those tumultuous times he would recall the writing, which used to appear on walls: "Family planning, plot fi kill off black people."

The response of the current Family Planning Board's leadership is most interesting.

In the words of the top official: "Any action to mandate a woman or a man to have or not to have children is a human rights infringement. It is ill-conceived". Do I detect a pun there as in "conceive" as in to produce two babies or "conceive" as in a wha dat? You have to be educated to follow this, eh headmaster? Clarification, not obfuscation, that's what we need, sir.

You know what I think? I think the headmaster likes headlines. Who wouldn't, especially if the media is obliging? Remember my last week's headline about fog and foolishness? Well, I want you to join me in believing that's where this is leading. Who is going to administer the programme to see that parents do not exceed their quota? What to do with any other children who dare to turn up?

As one of a family of nine, I'm very touchy when the offensive argument is raised that only careless people have big families. I say, proudly, that our family was poor but we never knew poverty. My parents thought better of themselves and their children. They never made any of us feel like excess baggage. Things were often scarce, but we were taught to live within our means and make good use of what we had. We grew up in communities where today we would be described as being below the poverty line. Who drew the line? People did not have much material things, but we were taught to respect others and to have self-confidence, lots of it.

Our parents insisted that in order to earn, we had to learn. Beggy-beggy was out of the question. Neighbours shared with neighbours. People cared for one another. We didn't know anybody who killed somebody like today. Headmaster, that's what should be occupying our attention, not who had how many babies but how we can bring our people to a better place of self-respect.

Since the headmaster wandered into the fog and came back out with foolishness, I've heard from other products of families like mine. None regretted growing up in more-than-two household. Instead of wanting to manipulate other people's lives, why not teach poor people how to live positively and proudly, even when "rain a fall and dutty tough"? One person said, "Me inna dat!"

Who knows? Wise parenting might come back into fashion and beggy-beggy and licky-licky could be replaced by responsibility. People just might be energised to make choices for the better. Nobody would have to cull their family like farmers thinning-out a herd of animals so that only the fittest would survive. We are not farm animals.

No, Headmaster, it is not for officialdom to make a decision about who should have children and how many. If we want to talk about encouraging sensible choices in parenting, that is another matter all together. Encouragement and respect -- yes, even the poor can be respected.

The Battle of Parliament

Here we go, again. The session at Gordon House on Tuesday afternoon brought out the hot tempers which had been cooling for a while. Now that the PM has acceded to the demands for answers to questions about her travels, the costs and the objectives, achievements or otherwise, let us discuss it in a civil manner. But, instead, it was back to Gordon House clash, with the usual deejays leading the charge. It should be noted that there was so much barking and braying that the television and radio listeners could only hear so-so noise.

SPARE A THOUGHT NOW to the suffering of friends and relatives in the winter-afflicted areas of the Diaspora. Canada is ketching it, US meeting it, England swimming in it. Ice, snow, flood... it is all there, even in the South, where winters are never this cruel. Don't stop to worry about the cost of the call. Get on the phone, reach out to someone. Give a word of support. It makes all the difference, and remember, please, this is not the time to ask them for anything.

Some phone lines might be down, but keep trying. Your call will become the much-needed cheer-up in the cold darkness which many are experiencing. Imagine being without electricity in sub-zero weather is not easy for us warm-weather people. Stop making excuses. Reach out.

gloudonb@yahoo.com

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