by Dr Neals J Chitan
Over the last 13 years, I have been writing commentaries as a social and behavioural interventionist, expressing my thoughts and opinions on issues that I believe are of personal, family, community and national interests.
My comments over these years truly reflected my thought and involvement in trying to mitigate the outcomes and consequences of actions, habits and reactions, and met in general with much favour and agreement by my readers.
However, today, I want to use my commentary to be the voice for those who don’t have this opportunity to express themselves but who are really thinkers. We sometimes look at young men sitting at the street corners of our nation and think of them as worthless or dumb, but my conversation with 21-year-old “D” has proven otherwise, as we discussed the plight of our country and our region, saddled by Covid-19.
Firstly, despite his perceived gangsta look and dropping out of high school, let me say how articulate and brilliant I found “D” to be. He held me in deep conversation for much longer than I anticipated, almost losing track of time. After talking about lack of employment for youth, suicides and grief, we arrived at the vaccination topic. He asked me very assertively if I was vaccinated, and as I animatedly replied “for sure, a long time ago” he too, very convincingly expressed that he is fully vaccinated and that he believes that vaccination is the only way out. This is where he began his issue with the government, saying that it is the “cowardness” of the leadership that has us experiencing so many infections and deaths. I asked him to explain himself and here are his points of view.
I listened with bated breath as he took me through a process to back his blame for the Grenada Government, and I had to give him full marks for his ability to string points together to come to his conclusions. The young man began with the Covid protocols and regulations. He mentioned how much he disliked the wearing of masks. He said he felt as if he was suffocating when wearing the mask and hated it, but the authorities in the Ministry of Health and RGPF kept on saying that it is for “the greater good” of the country, and despite how much he hated wearing masks, he tried his best to comply to avoid dealing with the authorities.
Then he mentioned the 6-feet physical distancing regulation. “Sir,” he said, “you know how we Grenadians like to hug, shake hands and kiss as we greet, well they pass this protocol and now we have to say far, far away from each other.” Again, “D” expressed how this affected people, and how he struggled through this one as a social butterfly, but complied as they say for “the greater good of the country.”
He also spoke about the handwashing protocol and the constant spraying and sanitising of hands before entering places. “You can’t even buy a bread without sanitising and if you don’t, they kicking you out.” However, he said he realised that the government had to pass the law for “the greater good” and to lessen infections. Closing the border and quarantining laws were all for “the greater good too,” the young man animatedly said, then turned the question to me. “Dr Chitan, isn’t vaccine for the greater good of the country too?” I had to agree that indeed that’s the fastest way to get back to normal. Of course, here is where he went into emphatically making his points about the cowardness of the government.
As he concluded his argument he reiterated:
- Wearing of mask is not good for you because it feeds back CO2 back into your lungs, then it goes against our personal rights and health to make it mandatory, but we comply for the greater good.
- We hate physical distancing because it breaches our personal rights to greeting how we feel, but we are mandated, and we comply for the greater good.
- We don’t like sanitising our hands every minute because the sanitising liquid dries out and cracks our skin, but we are mandated to do it and we comply for the greater good.
Then “Sir,” he asks, “What is wrong on mandating another significant vaccination protocol if we are really convinced that vaccination is the guaranteed regulation that will help stop infections, death and hospitalisation and return us back to normal?”
Well, didn’t they infringe on our personal and health rights with masks, physical distancing and sanitising, but still mandated them for the greater good?
He concluded that the government knows that the only way to get our country up and running again is through vaccination, but he believes that they are afraid to make the decision for the health and lives of the nation because they are scared to lose political popularity if they mandated vaccination. Referring to Prime Minister’s Gaston Browne’s reply to mandating vaccination within government sectors, the young man said that Brown’s reply of making a tough decision now for the health and lives of Antiguans was more important to him than getting re-elected. “That’s a good leader,” he remarked.
I was utterly impressed with this gangsta looking young man and suggested to him that if he would go back to school he can become a great lawyer, and that would be for “his greater good.”
Dr Neals Chitan is an International Social Skill Consultant and Crime Reduction Specialist who holds a PhD in Social and Behavioural Sciences and currently works in Grenada. He is the President/Founder of Motiv-8 For Change International a Toronto-based Social Skill Agency and can be reached from North America at 647-692-6330 and locally 473-416-8377 or at [email protected]