Social contributor – Dickson Igwe

First of two stories on poor parenting and social dysfunction: two evils creating a new underclass and negative subtype in the Virgin Islands

Poor parenting, and the lack of a positive male role model and father figure, for thousands of Virgin Islands children and youth, is creating enormous social and educational trauma in this small country. Neglectful parents and missing fathers are at the root of the emergence of a new VIRGIN ISLANDS UNDERCLASS. This is an epiphany that will create a socially divided community in the coming years. A social division based upon education, wealth, and power, with a tiny and privileged minority in tight control of the country, and self perpetuating.

And the effects of poor parenting, while negatively affecting hundreds of children and young people, will actually be the herald for the new elite in this country, as a whole generation of mediocre and dysfunctional underperformers comes of age. There is coming a ruthless form of social division. The brightest and best educated minds will sit at the top of the social pyramid. Sadly, this coming class division will also spell an increase in crime and violence among the have not’s, with the new elite living a privileged life, separated from the rest of the struggling majority, both physically and socially.

Homes in the Virgin Islands are becoming increasingly fortified, and this is evidenced by a mini boom in the market for security and surveillance products. However, the tendency towards personal preservation and home security will evolve into a new regime of gated communities in specific areas. This will be the physical manifestation of the separated, exclusive, and new elite. The Virgin Islands upper class will be separated from the underclass, as inequality based upon possession of unique and specific educational credentials becomes the single entry to wealth and power. It is happening already!

But the BVI is not unique in this paradigm shift of the emergence of a 21stCentury wealthy and well educated international upper class. It is happening in other countries, and it is a direct result of that much used term: GLOBALIZATION. This bold new world does not suffer fools, and in a knowledge driven planet, excellence in learning is going to become the currency of success everywhere. However, do bear in mind that the possession of qualifications and excellence are not synonymous. Qualifications are tools that have to be applied effectively in order to benefit the possessor, and the wider society.

Photo courtesy

For all the talk of physical development in these Virgin Islands, one thing is very clear. And a simple and short conversation with any teacher, guidance counselor, or social officer will reveal this. A great number of VI children and youth are in trouble socially. And this is not a generalization. A significant percentage of the young are facing psychological and learning challenges.

And further investigation into the matter reveals that the educational establishment is not to blame for this. There is a limit to what the teacher or guidance counselor, can accomplish in the absence of positive parental input. At the root of social dysfunction in the Virgin Islands lies poor parenting.  But more specifically, the absence of dad in families is front and center of this communal dysfunction.

But there is another factor in the poor parenting equation. Globalization beginning sometime in the 1980s created a material society and great prosperity in the Virgin Islands. However, it appears that the community lost its soul as a result.

Money is God these days to the detriment of all else. Good moral values, and the wholesome and old world customs and traditions of a much more serene, gentler, and safer yesteryear, have been flushed down the proverbial latrine. The things that truly matter in life: family, friends, good relationships, and tight community, have been replaced by a new worship at the altar of the DOLLAR BILL. As a consequence parents are too busy chasing after material comfort to look after their children. Many parents falsely believe that giving their children material things over their time and attention is good parenting.

And this culture of materialism is all pervasive. Sadly one of the best examples of the new material model is found in the houses of worship. An ode to the god of materialism is the new liturgy in many a church. Today’s church continues its exponential divisiveness. The explosion in denominations continues with a church on every street corner. Like the political establishment, the church these days is more concerned about its physical and financial infrastructure, than its social mission to spread love, compassion, and healing. The chief concern is not the souls of men, but church finances.

Instead of the Mission of Christ, there is the pursuit of personal agendas, and the spending of millions of dollars on bricks and mortar: each denomination trying to outdo the other in the building of bigger and bigger edifices. However look around.  Society is going to the dogs. The incidences of immorality and greed both inside and outside the church would bring tears to the eyes of JESUS.

Money is boss these days in many a pew. Just visit some fellowships these days and the thrust is not on the Gospel.  It is all about cash and prosperity, and using God for the achievement of material dreams: a big house, cars, vacations, in other words the PROSPERITY GOSPEL.

But all of this is a simple fleecing of congregants by a church dynasty, while the majority of parishioners chalk up increasing debt. The drive for tithes and offerings is not going to the building up of the kingdom of God. No, instead, it is cushioning the luxurious lifestyles of church owners. Too many churches today are simply businesses. And like the church Pre Reformation: the church is selling Salvation for gold. The love of money is the root of all evil the Bible teaches. And that admonition appears to have been forgotten today.

Materialism is another reason why there is no difference today between the church and the local social organization. Secularism is god, even in the church. Young people and whole sections of society are not deceived.  They have felt and witnessed the gross hypocrisy in some of the churches, and they are staying away.  You cannot blame them. The church does not speak to power these days.

Instead it kowtows to every establishment nuance with compromise at the center of a new creed that is as worldly as worldly can get. If anything the church has become another enabler of all that is wrong in modern society.

In any event, the church is never any better than the community in which it sits. And the social trauma of Virgin Islands community is clearly evident on both the pulpit and in the pew, with the incidences of juvenile delinquency, sexual perversion, adultery, child abuse, domestic violence, and teenage pregnancy, equally high in the church as they are on the street.

And no one is innocent of this new social malaise. The pursuit of wealth and power is the new panacea for all things bright and beautiful. But the price paid in terms of social dysfunction is high. Yes, bear in mind that it is certainly easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of GOD.

To be continued