A tale of two youngsters

anguillian
By anguillian May 3, 2013 09:31

A tale of two youngsters

 

Mr. Victor Banks

Mr. Victor Banks

This year is slated to be a grand one for the Methodist Churches in Anguilla being the two hundredth Anniversary of Methodism. In keeping with this, every once in a while there will be an event to bring attention to this milestone. Of course there will be other milestones “piggy-backing” off of this as well, such as the Sixtieth Anniversary of Immanuel Methodist Church in West End and the Fortieth Anniversary of Zion in North Hill. My own Church Ebenezer, in The Valley, boasts an existence of one hundred and eighty three of those milestone years having been built and dedicated to the Service of the Lord in 1830. And Bethel Methodist Church in South Hill is just a few years younger.

The importance of these Churches in our history cannot be understated. In fact, along with their Anglican relatives, they were the foundation of traditional Anguillian community shaping our moral and social development. Our history also indicates that the Vestries of these congregations played a crucial role in the politics and the more secular aspects of the island’s affairs. The “age-old” debate on the “Separation of Church and State” was therefore hardly a matter of concern for traditional Anguilla — it was just the way things were. There is evidence that less than eighty years ago one individual served as Warden (i.e. Top Public Servant); Magistrate; Doctor; and was also a Methodist Local Preacher.

I offer all this as a background to one of the events held last evening (30th April) by the Immanuel Methodist Church in this milestone year celebrations. It was a Panel Discussion on the moot: “Over the past sixty years ineffective leadership by the State and a compromising Church have resulted in decreased morality and spirituality while giving rise to an increase in criminal activity. If this premise is correct, do these two noble institutions still have the relevance and credibility to effectively reverse this alarming trend?” While it was a very long and cumbersome moot, I believe that it was intended to draw out and expose some of the widespread apologies made by persons in our society for the present social malaise and violent criminality that attend our island. There is the usual readiness in our society to blame the Church and the Government for the ills of society. Overwhelmingly, despite the generality and simplicity of the premise and the conclusions in the moot, it can be said that most of the presenters believed that the decrease in morality and spiritually and the increase in criminal activity were the outcome of many more complex issues and considerations.

But I am not here to assess the quality of the presentations or criticize the relevance of the moot. I am here to bring attention to the underlying issue of what kind of product we can achieve as a community despite the negative circumstances — and amidst the waning morality and spirituality and the rising criminality. It is to bring the message of hope. As one of the presenters indicated, our situation is not unique. It is universal. It is a part of the times and the complexity of issues that impact our societies. Obviously, all sectors of the community have a role to play. We simply cannot select the Church and the State and hand over our responsibility to them — as one of the presenters forcefully explained. Our communities over the sixty years have produced the good as well as the bad — as occurs in every community the world over. But there is a tendency for us to focus only on the negative product — not paying sufficient attention to the good or to the changing nature of the environment. With advances in information technology, communications and transportation, the world has become a smaller space. As a consequence our children have new neighbours — as indeed do we, the adults. We all are subject to new influences and exposed to new cultures. With the proliferation of consumer products, including weapons, we have access to new responses to our daily situations. It is therefore a vain undertaking to attempt to make a fair comparison of the conduct of one generation with that of the other. And for the many pessimistic among us who seem to ask the biblical question: “Can anything good come out of Anguilla?” I am tempted to respond in like fashion: “Come and see!”

It was, however, the news of young Anguillian, Chesney F. Hughes, scoring 270 runs not out, in First Class Cricket for Derbyshire today (April 30, 2013) that stirred my nationalism and pride. He went down as the Opening Batsman and had he not run out of partners he would conceivably have broken the batting record of the Team set in 1896, that is, over 117 years ago. He fell short by just 4 runs. But what is important about this achievement, in the context of the panel discussion, is that he is of West End extract and, in all likelihood, was brought up in the same school where the panel discussion was held. (If not him, certainly his father.) But that is not all. It is also the same school that his mentor, Cardigan Connor, attended and from which he also went on to do wonderful things for Anguilla as a First Class cricketer at Hampshire, England.

The moot began “over the past sixty years”, and so does our story of two young men brought up in different circumstances during the same time period. When Cardigan grew up in West End, Anguilla, there was no electricity, no telephones, no televisions; very few modern sanitary amenities; no Internet and personal computers; and no formal economy. His main influences would have been the people in his village and particularly the Church. He attended the Valley Secondary School and as a teenager travelled to England to be with his mother and other siblings. There he applied himself to the sport he loved, even as a student at Langley College, and got noticed for his talent. He made a name for himself mainly as a bowler, first with Buckinghamshire then later with Hampshire where he became one of the Team’s cult heroes taking 9 for 38 in a first class match. Cardigan first came back to Anguilla in 1991, determined to share what he learned with the young people of his homeland. At the time he was 30 years old and it was the same year that Chesney Hughes was born.

So Chesney was a born a full generation after Cardigan. When he grew up in Anguilla there was island wide electricity; there were not only telephones but cell phones as well; there were not only televisions but Cable T.V. and satellite dishes as well; there were modern sanitary amenities of all kinds. Chesney had access to the Internet and a personal computer; and Anguilla had a Tourist economy. His main influences would have been very diverse to include role models whom he would have never met physically. By the time he became very interested in cricket, Anguilla would have already had their first player in the West Indies Team – mentored by Cardigan – in the person of Omari Banks. Chesney already accepted that if he applied himself he could achieve great things and, as a Sportswriter said in his article today, he was able to keep in touch with his mentor three thousand miles away even during the lunch and tea breaks from his powerful batting performance. The Sportswriter also used the terms “mature and controlled” to describe his approach. Perhaps most atypical and uncharacteristic descriptions for a young man just turned 22 years old. And, to top it all off, he has qualified to play for England.

The Church and the State were not responsible for either of these achievements in any direct manner. Likewise, they ought not to have been given direct blame if any of these two youngsters had gone astray. Neither did the circumstances of the period impact their achievements one way or the other. Despite the lack of modern conveniences and favourable circumstances — Cardigan and the persons that were responsible for his training and upbringing found a path for him to succeed. In the case of Chesney, despite the distractions of his time and the negative influences that abound in this information age — he and the persons who were responsible for his training and upbringing found a path to facilitate his success. This had nothing to do with the direct intervention of institutions like the Church and the State, but of people determined to take responsibility for providing guidance and support for these youngsters.

The small minority of “bad eggs” within our societies, that seem to overwhelm the premise of the moot, should not cause us to give up hope or revert to the blame game. There are many more tales in other disciplines that demonstrate that with the right approach we can make a difference. But if we were to stick to Sports – in addition to Shara Proctor and Zharnel Hughes – on the horizon in cricket we have Montcin Hodge who is also playing county cricket and was on hand to cheer on Chesney. Jahmar Hamilton who was at the High Performance Center is a rising star in regional cricket. Asharn Hodge with the University Campuses. We still have Kelbert Walters, Linval Richardson and so on. And, believe it or not, eight young Anguillian players are representing the Leewards in the three forms of the game. It means that in this Sport alone, and in this much-maligned environment, the community continues to produce quality products. Undoubtedly, both the Church and the State, as institutions, would have played their part – but they were many more warm and caring souls and bodies in the mix. Even in this short tale of two youngsters from West End in the time of Immanuel.

 

anguillian
By anguillian May 3, 2013 09:31

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