Pappyshows disguise the rot

 

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Category: Trinidad Politics 08 Feb 15
 

Trust the silver fox—former prime minister Basdeo Panday (and how we must treasure his wit and breadth of knowledge in this age of politicians who don’t read, and certainly not Shakespeare) to put the “witness tampering” debacle where it belongs. A wee brew in a miniature teacup. He has said it simply reinforced the need for constitutional reform which will bring more accountability.

Given the lack of separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary we are hovering between a monarchy and banana republic in an increasingly anarchic society. My emotions shot up and down like a bipolar on crack when the latest fracas over the fired attorney general and national security minister became the country’s latest entertainment.

It was too much of a pappyshow. Too much muscle was flexed over too little. The PM may have a point. Let the criminal investigations show that. But to pillory men before they were proven guilty on a matter of form rather than substance is to create a lynching.

Aren’t we tired of pappyshows used as smokescreens to disguise the rot everywhere, symptomised by our toxic dumps, our 500,000 strong illiterate, and our everyday murders? But like a battered people we roar around the arena at big shots being cut down to size.

Take THAT.

There are some PMs who have used their power and charisma (our PM has plenty of both) to be agents of enormous change. Obamacare is now a word. It’s to do with the boring topic of health. There was one African Prime Minister who used every speech he made, no matter what the context, to speak of the importance of using condoms to prevent HIV/Aids even if he was cutting a ribbon for a tea party. It worked. The incidence of HIV/Aids dropped in his country.

The late Raoul Pantin said he saw Facebook as a means of promoting democracy. With looming elections posts are highly politicised. It has also become another mirror, no matter how opaque of our society. What do we all see in this mirror?

Take this FB post written this week by a woman living in a quiet, ‘safe’ residential area. “In the early hours of Tuesday morning a thief terrorised our neighbourhood. He ran from garden to garden, including ours, held up one neighbour at knife point. Smashed down the door of two others, rifled through the car of one...People are afraid to sleep at nights now. This man came here when everyone was at home asleep in their beds. Our children did not sleep last night. We heard the crashing down of the neighbours door. The man used a pickaxe!

He used their cutlass which he took from their tool room...” Scroll down the newsfeed and I see this in a public face dedicated to T&T news page that is titled “Proud to be a Trinbagonian.”

“We have just been informed that citizens of Trinidad & Tobago can NOW apply for a FIREARM License @ Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. They now have a dedicated team available to process applications. For more info on how you get your firearm license, contact:....”

This was my comment on the post.

“Great, now we can be the most murderous country in the world instead of the tenth. Why don’t we order more books and train teachers and social workers instead? The bullet is for the cruel and the dumb.”

This was how a fellow Trinbagonian responded to my comment.

“How did we become what we are in the first place? I personally know people who grew up knowing hate and crime to be normal and made a decision to not become a statistic. It’s clear the only way these criminal elements will only learn is when a bullet to the face greets them when they try to jump my wall or rob/rape my family. And as for your bit about the cruelty, I have no sympathy for grown men who CHOOSE to steal from and murder innocent victims in this country.

Desperate times need desperate measures. I hope they never reach your doorstep, but if they do I hope you have a book in hand to throw at them. I would rather protect my family with a gun!”

The sad thing is I understand his point of view. Then I saw another post. A video of a Jamaican woman who took 30 children who looked like they could be part of any of our “at risk” areas. They were disconsolate, liming on walls, susceptible to gangs, drugs, not going to school. She gave them love, food, time, encouragement, and sent them to school. She stuck with them. Three of these street kids whose parents were either dead or in jail or abandoned them, went to university. The others are still in school. It’s her dream to “let them be all they can be.”

If it weren’t for her, there would be 15 more boys on the streets with guns, 15 teenaged pregnancy. That’s how you catch crime. At the root. With attention. With education. Leaders can do great things. Our PM has a shine about her. She has guts. She can fire big men and hire big men, do as she wishes. I wish I could start a pappyshow of “being all you can be.” Target at risk boys and girls, train social workers, parents, and provide havens for children who haven’t got anything other than a gun to feel like a proud Trinbagonian.

We will gather around an arena not filled with the dead or the humiliated, but nurtured children whose humanity will save us.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur