Opinion: Inequality (fight at Sundial School)

POSTED: 09/24/14 11:42 PM

What is it with students that they have to get into one fight after the other? Yesterday there was a huge fight near the Sundial School. It began with one student fighting with a man who was loitering near the school premises. It did not take long for others to join the battle. By the time the police arrived the place must have looked like a mini war zone.

When police officers wanted to break up the fight, some of the students turned on them. Even the parents of one student started fighting. What is wrong with these people?

At the heart of it all is obviously the inability to solve differences of opinion in a normal way. Okay, we already hear someone say: define normal. Fair enough.

We figure that the normal way to solve a dispute is by talking and listening. This concept is apparently wasted on the students and, amazingly on some parents as well. When they encounter something they do not like, their answer is violence.

We know that there is a lot of anger and frustration among the population in general. This negative sentiment lives in parents who struggle to survive (economically speaking) and it lives in students who do not manage to keep up in school.

We’re not claiming that disadvantages in economic terms and learning-disadvantages are the root of all fighting, but this is certainly a place where one ought to start looking for solutions.

Repairing economic disadvantages is not going to happen overnight. There are only that many jobs on the island, and only a certain percentage of these jobs pays enough to lead what is generally considered a decent life.

At the same time, there is an enormous wealth on the Friendly Island. Some people have everything, and more than they will ever need, while others are at the bottom of the pile. That leads to frustration – understandably.

More important is how the community is going to deal with these differences. When the first gated communities were established in the United States, many people thought that country had gone crazy. Now gated communities are among the few places in St. Maarten where residents can feel relatively safe.

If the trend towards more and more gated communities continues, we will end up in a situation whereby economically successful citizens will become the victims of their own success. They will become prisoners in gated communities, while the have-nots roam around outside their walls of comfort.

It is time to start thinking about these concepts of increasing inequality and to find solutions whereby the apparent wealth that St. Maarten as a community enjoys, is spread more evenly over the entire population.

This requires a system whereby the strongest shoulders bear the heaviest burden. Fiscal instruments could help achieve a more balances society. The question is: is there political will to work towards such a society? Is there a preparedness to give up some of that wealth to facilitate a better, and safer, life for all where there is no need to express frustration through physical confrontation?

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