Fix up ethics now


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Category: Trinidad Politics 23 Jul 06


I am amazed at our arrogance. A new war has begun in the Middle East, perhaps heralding World War III, and we say we are in crisis. Why? Because a couple of powerful men in the judiciary are at one another's throats? Because maybe one or both got caught with their pants down?


While I write this more than 300 people have died as Israel relentlessly bombs Lebanon, displacing 500,000 of its citizens, creating a shortage of food and water, crippling hospitals. Wounded children are lying unattended, and we who have it all, who are benefiting from skyrocketing oil prices are crying wolf. Now that’s a crisis.


When I read the Chief Justice’s verbose pre-emptive strike against the State, followed by an equally meandering turgid response from the State warning darkly of a bigger strike against the CJ, my eyes crossed, blurred and saw verbiage, abcdef, dot dot dot punctuation mark, headline, printed words nothing to do with any of us.


Nothing tangible


I was getting the weird feeling you get when you put your face up against a TV screen and all you see are spots. You stop seeing the wider images. A face is not a face. It is hundreds of dots and that’s when you realise that there is nothing tangible there, just a cold electronic screen, an emotion machine where people get paid to act to entertain you, make you laugh, startle, cry. They don’t see you. You don’t exist.


That’s how I feel being forced to watch this wasteful soap opera in which nobody benefits. The thick backlog of cases aren’t cleared, the witness protection programme isn’t sorted out, the prisons remain overcrowded; the reputation of the Prisons as the University of Crime where casual mango thief meets cold-blooded murderer isn’t changed and no one is convinced that the law is about justice anymore.


The average citizen doesn’t exist to the pompous men who are playing for the gallery, for their own benefit.


Now switch off that screen and you see reality. It’s a crisis of ethics.


Most developing and third world countries have two sets of rules. One set for the ones with the power and money and another for the ordinary poor citizen without “pull.”


Citizens die


Our developing status assumes a wide chasm between the rich and the poor. We are less democratic than “developed” countries that have a wider safety net for its most vulnerable, its ill, its children, its elderly, its unemployed and its damaged citizens. With us, some people are more equal than others.


Ironically, some of the very people who rail against the URP dependency syndrome, (and rightly so) are the ones who themselves walk around with a fat sense of entitlement because they hold public office.


In the boardrooms you wont hear anything that will help the ordinary citizen, but you will hear about power plays, about who can team up with whom, to outsmart who, to make the most money. They scheme to get away with anything at any cost. Fix up. Being a big fish in a small pond brings that arrogance. This judicial imbroglio is a symptom of the “fix up” syndrome.


Now people are being caught with their pants down. They try to “fix up.” They get caught. It’s a good thing. Now we need to catch everyone suspected of “fixing up,” in the private and public sectors. Will that happen? Depends on whose doing the catching. Political expediency is all.


The crisis is that “fix up” has overtaken ethics. It seems the many barrels of oil are flattening out real human development.


While this tit-for-tat thing continues, to my disgust and sorrow I heard that a woman, a humble citizen who worked as a housekeeper, died while on the state list to have open heart surgery. That’s the crisis. Two rules for all. Fix up.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur