By Kendall Elva
The debate about whether a costume or the behaviour of a reveler is decent is really a reflection of those who claim to assume high positions on the moral ladder, wanting to impose their values and ways of living on others who just want to express themselves as they see fit.
Diversity is the essence of the human experience. Everyone is not born to be the same. Everyone will never hold to the same values or perceptions of how we as humans should live our lives. Very importantly people have a right to live a life which is not based on your values and beliefs.
For those who say some of the costumes or behaviours were indecent I have a few questions. Upon what basis do you determine whether something is indecent? Is it upon the basis of your own values and if yes, I ask: what about the values of the wearer of the costume or the person committing the act? Are there objective standards to determine what is decent? Does not decency vary with culture, geographical space and time in history?
Decency is not a static and homogeneous concept. Decency is dynamic and varies in keeping with the values of the person committing the act. What you may consider to be indecent another individual may judge it to be very decent. And so I ask whose judgment of what is decent really matters? Is it yours as a “morally upright” person or that of the individual whom you have described his or her act as being indecent?
Well to my mind since we are all born into freedom, people should have a right to express their choice of values especially when it does not cause reasonable harm to others. I am not aware of indecent costumes being responsible for an increase in the crime or unemployment rate. I am not aware of indecent costumes being responsible for an increase in the number of poor people in a country. I am not aware of indecent costumes being responsible for health problems in persons.
Ah some would say it causes harm to children. But is this harm, one which only occurs in societies which judge skimpy costumes as being indecent? I am sure that children who grow up in “tribal societies” which wear little to no clothing or what we from modern societies consider to be skimpy outfits are not harmed by the sights of their parents and other adults in their society. Nevertheless, if we in modern societies believe that our children will be harmed as a result of seeing indecent costumes I urge parents to keep children away from the carnival parades rather than asking for the regulating of carnival costumes.
It would seem to me that those who label the costumes and acts of the revelers as indecent just want see the abolishment of the carnival parades. I make this bold assertion since to my mind carnival parades are about revelers displaying skin and having fun by way of chipping, whining and girating on the road. I do not expect for revelers to be spitting out holy verses while on the road. I do not expect revelers to be trying to set examples aimed at “morally inspiring” children on the road. Carnival parades are not exercises during which people attempt to get into heaven or even hell for this matter. They are about people expressing their creativity and enjoying themselves in a festive environment.
Kendall Elva is a dynamic youth and community leader who uses direct programme implementation and advocacy to empower people. Kendall is a former president of the Belle Vue Development Community, Saint Lucia Association of Social Workers and Theater In Education – Drama In Education. At the national and regional level Kendall has served as a Youth Parliamentarian and CARICOM Youth Ambassador respectively. As it relates to educational attainment Kendall holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Work with First Class Honours from the University of the West Indies and a Master of Arts in Social Development with Distinction from the University of Sussex.Notably Kendall is a 2017-2018 Chevening Scholar. As a result of his involvement in community and youth development work Kendall has been awarded Youth of the Year in 2007, 2015 and 2016.