An elusive search for goodness

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Recently, we reported on the disappointment felt by Lady Sandra Williams at the lack of nominations for humanitarian awards. The Governor General’s wife reported that two years after the launch of the Halo Humanitarian Award for young people, she is disappointed that no fitting candidates have been identified. The award seeks to recognise deserving primary and secondary students – in both government and private learning institutions – who have performed extraordinary acts of kindness and heroism in Antigua & Barbuda.
We share Lady Williams’ disappointment but we are not entirely surprised. The whole concept of being “our brother’s keeper” seems to be less of a character trait in our society than it was before. As time goes on, people seem to be adopting a more selfish approach to life and a greater focus on monetary rewards for anything that they do.
Over the two-year period, Government House has communicated the particulars of the award to each school; however, it would appear that no school child has stood out as being worthy of qualifying for the gold medal, along with the $1,000 purse, as a result of their valiant efforts. Even our assumption that money is a key motivator in today’s society is proven true; for it seems that $1,000 is not considered enough reward for doing nice things for other people. How times have changed.
Lady Williams was obviously disheartened. She said, “We had had no applications for this and the reasons the teachers give is that there is no one in the schools that fit that bill, and there is nobody who has done an act of kindness or bravery, and that’s sad, a very sad story.”
It is, in fact, beyond being a very sad story, it is incredible to believe.  How can we not find one outstanding youth among the thousands that attend primary and secondary schools?
Note, also, that this is across all schools: public and private! So there is no argument that the quality of education, etc, has contributed to this gaping hole in our society.
Before anyone believes that maybe the criteria is unattainable, let’s have a look. To qualify, students should not be in a class higher than fourth form and must not have sat Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subjects or the equivalent. They must display exemplary acts of kindness and courage in their school and or community. In addition, they must have three credible references that can attest to the courageous and/or kind acts, and if available, other evidence to include testimonials from witnesses or from the beneficiary of the act of kindness and photographs of the occurrence.
That seems pretty attainable but for some reason, no young person was able to hurdle that low barrier for nomination. What does that say of our society and the crop of youngsters that will one day take control of our destiny? Are acts of kindness and bravery no longer part of what we do in our young life? If that is indeed the case, then our future is not looking bright and has actually dimmed considerably.
Lady Williams said that, as wife of the governor general, her duties include managing the Halo Foundation, which is an umbrella charity organisation that seeks to generate greater awareness of the needs of the less fortunate citizens of Antigua & Barbuda. A worthwhile charity and noble causes which we support wholeheartedly. It is therefore extremely sad and distressing that the charity cannot generate greater awareness because there are no suitable youth candidates, whose hands can be raised to highlight the needs of the less fortunate.
While Lady Williams must feel disheartened, we do hope that she and the Halo Foundation do not give up hope. We urge them to persevere in their search for people who do good in Antigua & Barbuda. We cannot believe that the search for a deserving youth would be as fruitful as searching for a dodo bird in this day and age.
As a nation, we cannot allow this story to pass us by. It is well proven that many of the ills of societies are born out of an uncaring attitude.  We see it manifest in areas like crime, the homeless and even stray animals … and these are just a few examples. We need to go back to our roots in order to cast a strong foundation for the future. In African societies, it is said, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Let us look to that wise and popular proverb to guide us to the future. We owe it to our children and to our country.

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