October 19, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Ash Wednesday: shootings, Mardi Gras, et al

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Ash Wednesday, when I first came here and long after was a most pleasant day. The big attraction was (and thankfully still is) the Agricultural Show. From its humble beginnings on the George Town Cricket Oval to its own ground in Lower Valley, it has grown and grown and is THE thing to do on this holiday.

First, of course, especially if you are an Anglican Episcopal or Roman Catholic, it demands a visit to your local church. Ash Wednesday is a solemn occasion as it marks the start of Lent – 46 days before Easter.

According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered after the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned. It is one of the Holiest Days of the year.

It was, therefore, with much surprise, that the Government’s own Pirates Week Festival decided to hold a Mardi Gras celebration on this Holy Day in town right in front of the passengers from the six tourist ships. This was complete with skimpy bodies gyrating around on stage, waving their behinds and chests and throwing beads, to heavy beating music that was so loud your head throbbed and hurt. It was impossible to speak unless you shouted in another person’s ear.

Mardi Gras is celebrated EVERYWHERE to culminate on Shrove/Fat Tuesday the day BEFORE Ash Wednesday! There would have been the biggest controversy imaginable if New Orleans (the most famous place for Mardi Gras Carnival) decided to extend the festival over to Ash Wednesday. Tuesday is the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the season of Lent starts.

The Cayman Islands prides itself on its religious heritage and we don’t permit loud music and public partying on Sundays and yet Government actually not only allowed this but also instigated it. I am not a prude and I am not against having a good time and, until last year, I have been involved in Pirates Week since 1983. I am, however, appalled they did this. And why would Government want to put on another event to clash with their own and traditional Agricultural Show?

Is it no wonder our young people forget this part of our heritage when church was at the very centre of it. When crime was a rarity and a shooting was unheard of. When the young accompanied their parents to church and were not allowed to run riot around the church aisles because they were taught that a church building demanded respect!

The gradual erosion of this has happened everywhere. We clung to it here but now it is not the ‘cool’ thing to do. Young persons going to church are looked at as being “strange” and we read and watch the news how the Christian religion has no place in the school system. I say ‘Christian’ because the Muslims dominate our news every day, mostly with hysterical fervent anger at every non-believer. And the rest of us must not upset them. We see young Muslims with guns and so this is the ‘cool’ religion. Can you imagine what would have happened if a Mardi Gras type festival was held on one of their holy days? It is OK to burn a Bible but a copy of the Koran means going to war.

With this background it comes as no shock to have a double shooting here on Ash Wednesday. In the early hours of the morning not one but TWO people were shot outside the Club 7 nightclub on the West Bay Road in the heart of the tourist area.

The RCIPS acted quickly and a man has been arrested.

Our newspaper, iNews Cayman, is not allowed in any of the hotels and some of the restaurants as the proprietors don’t want their patrons and guests to read about the crime here. You see, if you bury your head in the sand along our beautiful 7 Mile Beach, there is no crime.

I wish that was true. I wish I could turn the clock back to when Ash Wednesday was a wonderful religious and family day and our government respected it too.

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