Voiding the social contract


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Category: International 13 Aug 06


Violence again. This time, it wasn’t here. It was death in Guyana and the threat of terror in the UK. And we, as a people who live on an island and need to travel, are stuck.


The reaction to the violence is oddly visceral, considering it doesn’t have an immediate impact on us. Our brains are now full of realistic possibilities rather than neurotic fears: Of planes blowing up with thousands of people over land and sea. Of men armed with automatic weapons storming into newspaper press rooms, ordering men on the floor and shooting each one at the back of the head at a point blank range.


The memory of a train’s long whistle. Children walking in little groups, mothers walking nearby laughing, men smoking in amiable silence. Vacationing, it was called.


In the past we ran away for two weeks a year to escape the escalating crime and murder in our small island. Today, we are all trapped by the violence because it is no longer local, it is global. It doesn’t matter where you are, you are unsafe, on land and in the sky.


There was a time I felt safe in madly busy midnight street markets in Bombay, that was before the bombs; or on an autumn night in London where gold leaves flew about, that was before the tube bombers. There was that crazy time when a friend and I arrived finding we had no money on us and nowhere to stay, yet were without fear in the Paris suburbs before the streets burnt.


Time to file away those safe memories.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell George Bush, Tony Blair, or Ehud Olmert that bombing and murdering thousands of innocent Iraqi, Afghani and Lebanese civilians will encourage the growth of hothouses that breed cells of extremist terrorists that will in turn kill civilians everywhere in revenge. The terrorists have infiltrated every country.


The Internet was bloated today with blogs by people swearing off flying after the plot to detonate explosives on up to ten transatlantic flights.


Civilians worldwide know they will never be safe from these cells worrying that “trains, ocean liners, buses, subways in all the major cities of the world will be prime targets.” People are envisioning a world where “passengers will be lined up like inmates and given garments and paper slippers to wear while flying.”


Violence dictates our lives. It’s everywhere. People are saying “let the extremists on both sides kill one another, wipe one another out, leave us alone.” But that doesn’t work because innocents are slaughtered in the crossfire.


The cornerstone of the Social Contract of every civilised State is in return for citizens following the rule of law, the State’s primary duty is to protect us from violence. British intelligence discharged that duty admirably last week, averting civilian casualties on an unprecedented scale.


In T&T we can’t “let them gang boys kill one another” any longer because bit by bit they have claimed Morvant, Laventille, Beetham, Cocorite all of which are slowly becoming no go areas. The people who live there are finding that their social contract is null and void. The protective services seem to have brought a halt to the kidnapping. They must now stop our murders. This year we have had more than 220 murders in a population of 1.3 million people. Compare this to New York’s 316 murders with its population of 8.1 million people. The US has kept its social contract, clamping down on gang warfare.


Guyana’s Mafia-type shooting has shown us that once gangs realise that citizens are a soft target, they will turn away from one another and towards us. We are a heartbeat away from Guyana. We need to forcefully demand that our security forces do their job, fulfill their contract, and protect us all.


A T&T without fear. Where else would anyone want to live?


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur