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Sunday, April 2, 2017

What specifically did I mean when I ended last week’s column by advocating that we (the population and institutions) “turn inward” for it “can be the only solution” to the societal and economic disaster facing us as a people? All of us, perpetrators, victims, the helpless, the bystanders of today who feel no compunction to be part of the solution, have to challenge ourselves to reach inside of our being for an appreciation of what it means to take charge of our condition to transform the present reality.

To be able to turn inside for the solutions requires that we must first be aware that we have the power to do so without dependence on “significant others” to make decisions for us. We cannot await the arrival of a messiah to wash away “our ungodly” solutions external to those in which we have participated.

Our history as a people, comprising the differing ways in which the ethnic, cultural, religious and social groups were thrown together, shows that we have grown and developed since our arrivals. The varying experiences we have had on and off the plantation should be the sources to which we should look for guidance and confidence.

Yes, like any other peoples and their civilisations there have been achievements and periods of disasters. Undoubtedly though, as individuals, as groups, as a society, we have demonstrated the capacity for overcoming, for developing original thought and action, we must embrace and claim the positive achievements of our ancestral and contemporary existence.

We have, in some measure, overcome slavery, indentureship, colonial rule and our own post-Independence experiences. Along the way there have been countless and varied examples of the resilience displayed. Notwithstanding the challenges faced, we have lived and created along the road of the 175-odd years of freedom of our ancestors from Africa, India, China, the Middle East; the European-descended Trinis have had to change their skins to live in societies in which they no longer have deference and privilege as their birthright.

Through the systematic and vicious annihilation of each other and of innocents wandering by, the young men and women of the self-constructed “ghettos” are returning themselves to slavery and indentureship, they need to be told that their ancestors fought and won many of those battles and their task now is to construct on that base.

They must know that from their own streets and communities there have emerged many of today’s business leaders, academics, scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, builders, and sportsmen and women. They must believe that there are no lost causes, that being a drug dealer and/or a hired killer assures them only of a short and painful life that inevitably ends when bullets pierce their proclaimed invincibility.

They must be told that their fate is ten years in a stinking and soul-destroying Remand Yard; they may elude the police but not the savagery of their own. They must come to realise that serving as the tools of political parties and politicians is a dead end: The post-election reality is one of unavailing cries for assistance.

To turn inward to depend on ourselves to find solutions, parents, PTAs, community and NGOs must not only clamour for the physical needs of the school, but for a new education system that will produce thinkers, innovators, business entrepreneurs, not just graduates who secure jobs in the public and private sectors to live the rest of their lives in security—a security that changes into insecurity with the price of a barrel of oil and a measure of gas declines.

The professional classes are looking after themselves but they must know that they too have a stake here and they are not beyond the reach of those with fangs. In fact, they are the likely prime targets as those standing on the sidelines begin to long after the affluent and conspicuous lifestyles .

We have to convince a couple generations of parents that they have had far more of the physical amenities to life, but far less of the courage, the culture of endeavouring, ambition, self-respect and achievements than the generations which preceded them had.

Cepep and URP schemes must be converted into productive endeavours rather than enfeebling vote-winning schemes.

We must recognise that our leaders have failed; they have concentrated on political office and the benefits it brought to them and their circles of friends and associates. This columnist has previously explored the possibility of seeking the constitutional transformation needed to separate ministerial office from constituency representation. I have advocated the hiring of professionals to form a government to make policy for a professional public service to administer. If such ministers fail in office there will be no political sympathy/support to prevent them from their fate.

When consciousness and self-assertion become the norm, the financiers of the drug trade, the importers of guns, the fraudsters, Sparrow’s “good citizens” will have no place to hide and no one to defend them as the political directorate will scamper in its nakedness for cover.

There is no magical formula, only engagement by all of us; toss in your own views on the “root and branch” transformation required. I consider nothing in the above as being sacred, only that sitting on the margins and expecting change to come from those who benefit from the status quo is akin to madness and allows for social deterioration to continue.


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