Parents should be conscription substitute to save some of our young men
The topic of service with the Royal Bermuda Regiment is a contentious subject among many Bermudians. It goes without saying that public perception has not changed much over the years.
The relationship between the regiment and the general public in terms of individual service is unique in a way that significantly differs from other military organisations across the world. In most places, joining the military is an honoured and noble thing to do, sometimes a family tradition. In Bermuda, however, service comes with a stigma established by conscription, as well as the publicised bad experiences of a few. I would implore the sceptical reader, though, to consider the thousands of individuals who have served in the regiment and have had positive experiences.
Here we are now five years after conscription has ended and the public perception on service has not seemed to have changed much. Some people believe that once they walk through the gate, some drill-type individual will immediately start shouting profanities, with saliva projectiles shooting from their lips, so close to their faces one could tell what they had for dinner the previous evening. Some believe that their life will no longer be their own, and many other negative perceptions of military service.
I believe conscription provided Bermudian parents a solution to having their young adult sons sitting around the house without any direction and/or to redirecting them away from antisocial behaviour. It gave them some purpose once they finished high school, and either did not plan to continue their education or were unable to.
For two weeks out of the year, one night per week, and one or two weekends per month, parents knew exactly where their young adult was — “up de regiment” — unconcerned if they were OK, getting into trouble, driving under the influence, or any other negative circumstance that parents typically worry about. It was easy: the Government made them go and parents quietly appreciated a convenient requirement to service.
Conscription has been expelled, so now what? Bermuda has many young adults at home, aged 18 and into their early twenties, not doing anything. He or she has no educational ambition, no employable skills, no vocational training, nothing required. Some parents don’t even know what their sons or daughters are doing or who they are associating with until they get a call for bail or worse. But God forbid my kid join the regiment.
Without conscription, parents still have the power to establish requirements of the young adults living in their homes. We need to get back to directing Bermuda’s youth towards positive paths; otherwise, the chances of negative social impacts increase year after year. They are home using the household resources and if they are not working, they are running up your energy bill during the day, eating the food in the house with little to no contribution.
Some of these young men and women need to go Warwick Camp just to learn how to have a boss, which is an employable attribute that so many people lack.
So while I hear so many people asking the Government what it is going to do about all of the antisocial behaviour that is happening in Bermuda, I say put up or shut up and make our sons and daughters learn a thing or two about commitment to serving their countrymen and women through military service.
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