CNN’s caption brought me hope!

Posted by at 28 June, at 20 : 49 PM Print

By Dr. Neals J. Chitan

As a writer, ardent reader and researcher, I am usually big on captions. In the 21st century where our day comprises one continuous fast-flicking slideshow of tightly scheduled time slots, no one has the time to pick up an article while on the run and read it to the end. So we quickly scan the content table of newspapers, magazines, periodicals and books to see which caption jumps out at us if we are to settle in for a read.

This was my case on June 22, 2017 when I opened my CARIBBEAN NEWS NOW email and quickly saw the caption “We can’t change the world, but we can change a few people,” written by Nigerian born social reformer Nimi Princewill.

You see, as a committed Christian and international crime reduction specialist, I have been challenged by several of my Christian friends about the relevance and expectations of my work. They have frequently theologized, telling me that I am going against the “Word” with my expectation to change the world, when the Bible emphatically says that; men will become selfish and lovers of themselves, children will become disobedient to parents and that men’s heart will be failing them for fear.

I must admit that these sentiments have had a discouraging impact on me, sending me wondering if I am not too ambitious trying to bring hope, inspiration and social change to the world. Should I join the status quo and become a problem-maintaining professional, who after asking a few questions and making my paycheck, refers individuals to another colleague in attempt to feed the vicious cycle? Especially since according to my Christian friends, the world is going to get worse, till Jesus comes to the rescue. By the way, something I believe myself.

However, Mr. Princewill’s article brought me hope, because really, I am not about changing the world, but bringing hope to one individual. Like the pebble thrown in the lake that creates a small ripple, I hope that as one changed individual joins another changed individual; the impact will become so powerful that it will roar ashore as a tidal wave of social change to positively impact families, communities and even nations.

And so, as homicides ravage the little twin island nation of St. Kitts-Nevis, a place where I am currently working with the government to sustainably reduce the crime, I asked myself, “Am I too ambitious and expect too much?” The answer came just a few days ago on Monday June 26th, 2017, when I was invited to bring words of encouragement following the guest speaker at the graduation of the Cecele Browne Integrated School on the sister island of Nevis.

I sat transfixed as the graduation speaker Mr. Raime Gumbs was introduced to the podium. That introduction painted a picture of a young boy who had serious social and attitude issues that led to his expected and anticipated end-the jail house. However, the story told of how speakers like me were able to inspire and challenge him to take an introspective look into his heart which initiated his journey to rehabilitation and phenomenal success.

As he took to the podium, I became a teary-eyed emotional wreck as I discovered hope for young men in the speaker as he articulately helped the graduating boys to lay out a path to success, ever so often drawing illustrations from his own journey from prisoner to high school teacher.

It was then I realized that my personal mantra of “Turning Menaces into Mentors” can be achieved and I recommitted to “Changing a few, even if I can’t change the world”

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