Dear St. Croix Source:
I have not visited my native island in the last three years and depend on your publication to keep me up-to-date on what's happening in the community.
Regretfully, I no longer log on to your website with alacrity, but with foreboding. Some days it seems like the names in the obituaries were taken right out of my high-school yearbook. Many of those names represent real people that sat next to me in a classroom, rode on the bus with me, and shared an experience with me; the experience of being a young person on St. Croix.
I'll refrain from going into the customary "we need to stop the violence" rant that usually follows outbursts of brutality to express my thoughts (I'm sure the politicos have already covered that ground). Not only is it an embarrassingly obvious statement devoid of a clear plan of action, but it implies that the violence is an entity that is not connected to other social and political failures. The violence is born out of a history of indifference and irresponsibility and does not stand alone.
Examining the problems of the Virgin Islands as a gestalt is the first step. Our well-educated leaders already know that improving the quality of education and creating job opportunities curbs violence, so why are our schools unaccredited, and our government officials chasing away companies that wish to invest in our economy?
The kakistocracy that parades itself as a government that cares for its people is extremely short-sighted and only interested in doing patchwork on the problems that weave through our community. If it's a big fire, then they'll just throw a small pail of water at it, and ignore the smouldering embers that caused the flame and will eventually spark a bigger one.
The hand-wringing only seems sincere when the almighty tourist dollar is being spent elsewhere because not even the fuzziest math can cover a decline in this area. However, the factors that contribute to high crime rates can take time to manifest themselves, so they are easily ignored until they end up in the headlines, and forgotten again as they are printed in the obituaries.
Let us lose the Panglossian naivete that inhibits change and meaningful dialogue to create an atmosphere that will produce young citizens who can compete in society and contribute to their community and make headlines for the right reasons.
Melanie D. Petersen-Seales
San Diego, CA
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