the other day i was on a bus heading to work. i was sitting in the seat closest to the door and when the woman next to me got off i moved in one seat. this placed me next to an older, white gentleman who wasted no time in asking me, "do you notice the condition of this bus? the engine noise and the stalling out and the jerking?" up until that point i hadn't really noticed other than it was a red bus which usually indicate a less than smooth ride. but it got me thinking. he waited to ask me that question because the color of my skin somehow indicated that i would have been disturbed by the "condition" of that bus. which i wasn't. since it's par for the course here...but he wouldn't have known that the red buses are the ones to look out for. that the high top white or gray vans are the ones to ride in if you are looking for style. and he wouldn't have known that i am privy to that information based on the color of my skin. he assumed that i, like him, was incredibly insecure and uncomfortable on that bus. which i wasn't.
during that same bus ride i noticed a young secondary school girl at the bus stop who had the most hateful, angry look on her face. if her face had frozen in that position she would surely look at herself one day ten years from now and regret all that anger that had been filling her soul...at least i'd like to think that...maybe she'd still feel the same way. but it got me thinking. and observing...and replaying the same internal conversation i have been having for weeks in my own mind....
i have been noticing this trend with the youth here...this deep seeded anger that many times seems displaced and uncontrollable. i work with girls every day who comment about the inability to control their anger...how a feeling just takes them over and they can't stop themselves from reacting violently either with words or actions. i see young people on the streets every day speaking harshly and violently to one another...angry. over what i am unsure...maybe the cards they are dealt? the life they are not privy to have? the longing that they will never fulfill.
i have noticed that the generation below me...and the upcoming youth have a sense of entitlement i have never experienced before. i will be the first to admit that i was spoiled growing up. i came from a family that gave...and gave a lot. i am certain my father wanted me to have and experience all he never did and he made certain that i and my brother never went without...but the concept of work and dedication wasn't lost on me. i knew that his work ethic and drive were what put us where we were. and was the same thing that insisted i get a job when i was at the appropriate age. but there is this stirring in youth today...this belief that they are entitled because they are here. seeing this play out in saint lucia comes with it's own set of idiosyncratic ways. here is why i think it's led to such anger....
the youth of saint lucia are like all other kids all over the world. they long to be abreast of the latest trends...to have the newest phones...to wear the most stylish clothes. they long to emulate what they see their american heroes like trey songs, beyonce, nikki minaj, lil wayne and the likes wearing, driving, sporting, drinking...and in many ways saint lucia provides a facade that those things...that lifestyle is just within reach. unfortunately the truth is there is a serious discrepancy between the world they see and the world they are a part of. they live in a world where if the veneer were ripped off...the poverty and need would be exposed. the faulted education system and lack of opportunity. the pressure to perform to the highest standards without any promise of a future career or access to higher education.
so here we have these kids growing up witnessing a world of haves on the television...living in a world of miraged haves in their country and longing to have in their hearts. and when they begin to see the truth of their existence...the little that is being offered in comparison to the greatness they have imagined they get angry. their psyche and every ounce of their being tells them they are entitled and every ounce of their reality does not provide. and this discrepancy...this blazing truth against what their internal mechanism tells them is the truth...causes anger. discomfort. aggression. fear. and all of this manifests in the collective youth culture.
i hear people say all the time that the influence of america...of western culture...with the advent of television and marketing...changed the soul of saint lucia. for the longest time i didn't want to hear that. i wanted to blame it on the parents...on lack of education...of babies having babies...on ignorance...but then i remembered the polynesian cultures who had never had incidents of eating disorders until they were exposed to american culture. and i saw a polynesian woman comment on how fat she was in the face of the plastic, carved white women she served every day in her hotel job...and i questioned...maybe it's not that far off.
we live in a world of over stimulation. kids today are growing up with this awareness of what the world has to offer. and they want it. and they want it now.
the roots are being lost. the essence is becoming harder to find. and the kids...they are angry. really, really angry. so as i sit in my last year in saint lucia...i wonder...how can i affect these kids in a way to balance out their wants and needs versus what is available. how can i affect change among an entire generation who is underserved and unsatisfied?