Long Ago Stories
Trinidad and Tobago is a country with a culture of hypocrisy. It never ceases to amaze me how we pretentiously lay claim to righteousness. What is even more amazing, is our eagerness to hurl big stones at young people. Adults behave as if once upon a time, on these two little islands, only saints lived. It is unbelievable, how people walk around this town with these incredulous anecdotes, that all point to how better and much more perfect it was long ago. This past week a good friend and former classmate of mine prompted me to write about what she termed “the rose colored view by which older people view long ago”. She was attempting to philosophize about the pernicious pontification of older people, who will gain a higher moral ground if they will just be honest.
When you listen to the elderly in our society you will swear angels once walked the hills and gullies and plains of our islands. You will be led to believe that long ago, teenagers never got pregnant, men never had “outside children”, people never feted, alcohol was never consumed and marijuana was never smoked. In fact, you will almost believe (save for your own existence), that people never had sex, much more sex outside of marriage!
Irony then belies the questions: “How did such perfect people raise such imperfect children?” “How did saints raise demons? However, should we do background checks on our grannies and “tanties” and “nen-nens”, we will discover the shame and scandals in our families. For me, it was in 2005 upon the death of my grandfather, and having to prepare the eulogy that I counted and realized that he had 27 children; only four was with his common-law wife.
Real sordid stories hide behind the masks of perfection. Stories of people eloping at a young age; stories of women having several children with different men; stories of men “mining” as god-children their biological children; stories of teenage pregnancy and even attempts at abortion. These stories simply remind us that there is “nothing new under the sun”.
Unfortunately, many young people turn away and tune out of the valuable advice from the elderly because the advice comes with attachments of judgments. Sermons are preached without truthful testimonies and as such the desire to correct the young goes wrong.
The real truth is: ‘long ago’ was not an epoch of perfection. What we see happening in the lives of our young is really a manifestation of a cursed cycle. “The fathers ate the sour grapes and set their children’s teeth on edge”. After all, “Nuh matter how ‘big’ mule get... ah donkey ah im dardy”. The same things are happening all over again. Maybe with greater frequency now; but there is certainly no novelty in the sins and indulgences of today’s youth. It should therefore behoove adults in our society to treat with the wrongdoings of our youth in a more caring and even forgiving manner.
Instead of standing at a pulpit of pretense and giving speeches of sanctimoniousness, speciousness and affected superiority, be honest with us. Tell us the truth. In telling the truth about your life history, then your concerns for our beguiled youthfulness becomes genuine and we will listen. Don’t just heap prayers upon our head. Don’t just flog us and write us out of your wills. A better approach will be to take us into your homes and arms and tell us your story and the stories of our parents, and then show us why making the same mistakes will lead to our detriment. Don’t be afraid to tell us your story. In so doing, adults will nullify the popular retort of youths, “Yuh live your life already”.
Above all, learn to forgive. Forgiveness is the ultimate demonstration of love. No youth is so bad that he or she is undeserving of forgiveness; even repeated forgiveness for the repeated incursions.
It is not my intent to suggest that our youth are beyond correction. It is not even my intention to suggest that the advice of our seniors are ill-willed. However, through the use of Biblical references, it is my hope that this article convinces some senior in our society to rethink their approach to correcting our youth. I hope after reading this article some senior will take some youth into their home, give them a piece of sweetbread and a tall glass of mauby, and while the youth’s mouth is full, dish out the scolding along with a truthful recital of a personal experience.