Kelly and I were in Suva to assist with training the FRE-8s (Fiji Re-Entry #8 since coup #1) and decided to check out the movie Prince of Persia. I typically try and avoid the movie theater as it is prime territory for personal space invaders. This time was no exception. Behind us sat five young men most likely in their 20’s. During the entire movie they tap danced on the back of our seats, made jokes at all the sexual references or shots of women scantly clad, and snickered every time a character made a move towards the opposite sex. Nightmares of middle school came rushing back to me as I visualized myself acting the same way when 13. The problem was these blokes were over 20 and acting like they just discovered girls. Strangely my mind then pondered the overall state of Fiji, and for that matter the undeveloped world. I realized that the tremendous amount of aid money funneling into Fiji and the rest of the undeveloped world is severely stunting the maturation process of its citizens.
Just like a 25 year old boy living at his mom’s house doesn’t get a job because he knows he can get away with manhandling his xBox all day, so goes the rest of the world. Why strive and better yourself when someone is around the corner with pockets of cash to take care of your basic needs? What it boils down to is the only time you need to work hard is so you can buy the DVD player or a MP3 capable mobile phone, everything else is handled.
I see this played out every day with managing the debts of the islanders. The council is in a constant state of financial struggle as it can’t collect debts for basic services such as electricity and boat rides. At first this drove me crazy. I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t afford a few dollars a week for electricity but had no problem affording mobile phones whose per minute charges are $.50/.70.
I now realize the islanders haven’t been given the opportunity mature and change their behavior. Just as the 25 year old has no consequences for sitting around playing video games all day, there are no consequences for the islanders not paying their bills. Even if someone on the council got up enough nerve to cut off electricity, the community peer pressure to turn back on the power would be too much to bear to leave it off. It is interesting that the community bonds that held this island together during the extremely rough days of the early settlers now stunts its ability to develop.