As I write this

 

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Category: Trinidad Society Date: 26 Jan 03


“Morning is when I am awake and there is dawn in me…

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in the soundest sleep.

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look…

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.” – Walden Thoreau.

 

That’s all very well, you might say, but think it’s easy to do that in Trinidad today?

One reader summed up our collective disaffection:

 

“I find myself trying to understand why, despite a budget of around $20 Billion, in a population of 1.5 Million, in a country rich with natural resources, people blame poverty for the rising crime in our country.

“On busy street corners, outside schools, in malls, you see signs of prosperity, people walking around in expensive brand name sneakers, using cell phones.

“There will always be poverty, but is that a good enough reason to kill twelve people in twenty two days?

“Do you agree that ultimately, an individual rather than a situation is the deciding factor on whether or not to pull the trigger?

“No policeman can read the mind of a potential killer. We are all capable of murder.

“I myself emerged from poverty and I think we are all the products of our choices and our spiritual and moral values.”

 

Here’s another readers view:

 

“Criminals are, in most cases, the result of dysfunctional unions, where the father is no role model – where, indeed, all they learn from him is how to brutalise children and women and to father several children with different women.

“Thus they develop a rage against against women, leading to all kinds of brutality, including rape.

“They also have a rage against society, which leads to callous murder, robbery and pillage.”

 

And yet another:

 

“Capital punishment has no effect on criminals and is itself a form of violence which has been eschewed by all the countries of the industrialized Western world, with the exception of the USA.

“That country is not only one of the most violent in the world, but also consumes more hard drugs than any other and has the love of money as its God.

“The local criminals have learnt much from that society.”

 

As I write this, crime is spinning beyond control – an 18 year old girl has been found strangled in a furniture store; businessmen are looking over their shoulders for possible kidnappers.

 

As I write, doctors continue their malfeasance, uncaring of the ill, poor and dying.

 

As I write, Caroni (1975) Ltd remains a mess, political tool that it is, as is the National Housing Authority, manipulating desperate people badly in need of jobs and homes.

 

One of our readers quoted earlier wanted to know whether I agreed that one’s actions are determined by one’s strength of character rather than circumstances, such as poverty.

 

This is my answer.

As I write this, a reportedly super-wealthy PNM party supporter by the name of Ken Julien is cashing in his $100,000 from the State’s coffers’ “reward” for “service”.

 

Looking on are hundreds of bright A’Level graduates working in menial jobs because they can’t afford the fee for University.

 

When they watch the wealthy being rewarded and the poor being shoved under the carpet, what kinds of messages are the thousands of young men getting from the State? That only the rich are rewarded?

 

Faithful service should be rewarded with trust funds on behalf of long-serving citizens for young people eager to fulfill their potential.

 

Increased police patrols don’t make our hordes of unemployed and unemployable young men and potential criminals disappear; it just makes them more desperate.

 

A major aspect of tackling crime is about providing hope to people in wretched circumstances.

 

And unless, as Thoreau put it, those in power allow our people the opportunity to carve and paint the atmosphere of their lives by themselves acting on behalf of the vulnerable amongst us, unless they find ways to affect “the quality of the day” of “criminals”, we will continue to wake up to news of murders and kidnappings, corruption, dead babies in living mothers and every-day stupidity.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur