Rising drug, gun and gang crime threatens to destroy the Virgin Islands community. At the root of crime, whether here or elsewhere, is neither poor policing nor poor social leadership. It is materialism and greed.
If one aspect of Christian scripture rings true, it is the fact that the love of money is at the root of all evil. The preceding is a great statement of what is taking place in the VI today.
Only a fool will state that cash is not king. Wealth is power. That is a simple fact. However, when wealth becomes god, it tends to become a slave driver and places a society in bondage. That is clear from purely capitalist societies such as the United States and places where money rules in governance and society such as in Russia, Nigeria and Colombia. These societies become violent and ruthless. The survival of the fittest rules. That is never a good place to be, especially for the vast majority of the population.
Greed at the top drives crime down below. When leaders wonder what is happening with our community and delinquent kids, they simply have to look in the mirror. It is sheer hypocrisy to be alarmed at the violence and death on the street while the people at the top live like kings on white-collar crime or perpetuate crime through wilful neglect or even indirect support for crime.
Crime in the VI is a systemic issue. It is more than the actual criminal activities: drugs, gun crime, robbery, murder, sexual assault, public corruption and fraud. Crime is a problem of culture and social behaviour that sits in the social DNA. Crime is about us, not criminals who are caught red-handed.
When criminals are glorified and the youth look to drug barons as their role models, then the territory is given over to the devil. Anarchy rules when the respect for the rule of law disappears and we can no longer tell the difference between good and bad.
That is what has happened in the VI.
Lack of father figures
In 2012 this commentator wrote an article that foreshadowed the present dilemma. He wrote that poor parenting — exacerbated by the lack of a positive male role model and father figure for thousands of VI children and youths — is creating enormous social and educational trauma in this small territory.
He further asserted that neglectful parents and missing fathers are at the root of the emergence of a VI underclass. This situation, he predicted, would create a socially divided community in the coming years. The social division would be based upon education, wealth and power, with a tiny, privileged and self-perpetuating minority in tight control of the territory.
‘Driver of crime’
Social inequality is a driver of crime. Socially equal societies such as those in Northern Europe have far less crime than societies where there are vast social inequalities.
And the effects of poor parenting, while negatively affecting thousands of our young people, will actually be the herald for greater social division and the new elite in the VI, as a whole generation of mediocre and dysfunctional underperformers comes of age.
It is the poor and underprivileged who will suffer most in a crime-ridden community.
There is coming a ruthless form of social division. The most skilled, brightest and best-educated minds will sit at the top of the social pyramid. The upper classes, who possess the wealth and power, will live in gated homes and mix with their own social class.
Sadly, this coming class division will also spell an increase in crime and violence among the have-nots, with the new elite living a privileged life separate from the rest of the struggling majority, both physically and socially.
The older generation is accepting of social inequality and is willing to accept the social order. The younger generation of residents under 30 is not. They will resort to crime to redress the imbalance.
Homes in the VI are becoming increasingly fortified, and this is evidenced by a mini boom in the market for security and surveillance products. It is a pointer to a socially divided community.
The tendency towards personal preservation and home security will evolve into a new regime of gated communities in certain areas. This will be the physical manifestation of the separated, exclusive and new elite.
The VI upper class will be separated from the underclass as inequality based upon possession of unique and specific educational credentials, skills sets and family connections, becomes the single entry to wealth and power.
Violent crime will simply be a manifestation of this new social division. It is happening already!
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