Stop pillaging our common home
August 21, 2017
What should be our witness with LGBT?
August 22, 2017

55 should bring some reason… and tolerance

by Dr Marlene Attzs Sooping-Chow

Since my last column and given the national ‘birthday’ to be celebrated soon, I continue to reflect on the need for our society to take collective responsibility for our actions including for the downhill spiral that many are observing and lamenting.

Maybe it’s my own age coupled with the fact that even as the country celebrates its 55th anniversary of Independence our quest for true independence and the development that should accompany such independence, continues to elude us.    “Bacchanal and confusion cannot be the foundation of an orderly society” is my new mantra given its widespread applicability in our country and indeed the world.

Development is not something that happens by ‘vapse’. It is a process, most times a deliberate one, that sets in motion all the mores, values and institutions, that contribute to a country being labelled as developed, developing or underdeveloped.

For example, whatever our individual sentiments about the goings-on in the UK since the Brexit vote or the events in the US since the Trump vote, the unveiling of the public sentiment and the associated, at times, measured discussions, point to the appropriateness of their categorisation as developed countries.

Let me explain. There is a maturity, responsibility and transparency, with which leaders in the US and UK are being held accountable for what they say and do.  The accountability is not just to the citizens and voters of those countries, but to the world, given that one of the implications of globalisation is that whatever happens out there affects us over here.

Here in Trinbago, while we celebrate 55 years of Independence on August 31, and admittedly we’re a mere tot in comparison to the US and UK,  there have been many ‘steups-worthy’ occurrences in our country, reported as ‘news’, which reinforce my position that we Trinbagonians need to signal the kind of country we wish to be – whether developed, developing, underdeveloped or ‘jokey’. Our actions suggest that we’re not ready to embrace the responsibilities of adult nationhood.

I watched and read of the feigned national indignation over the pictures of  young women clad, ostensibly, in the official garb of an arm of the protective services.  The newspaper that carried the picture of one of the women as its front-page story (and on a Monday to boot) deserves recognition. Nuff papers probably sold that day!

The “feigned indignation”, as I describe it, is that these women are products of our society – we created the ‘posers’ as well as the individual who first put the pictures in the public domain. We also instilled in them a value system that suggests there is nothing wrong with disrespecting the uniform they took an oath to wear with pride.

I can hear the resounding denial from many readers who would take no responsibility for “that kind of behaviour”.  My opinion that we created the ‘poser-girls’ is based on the fact that there exists a national appetite (and demand) for anything that is lascivious. If there wasn’t a national appetite for indiscipline then the newspaper could not, and would not, have published such a front-page story.  A 55-year old should display greater discipline in its actions.

I also have been following the contrived race cards being waved around. I have some anecdotes to put my statement about the contrived race card into context.   First, I recall living abroad some years ago and reading the T&T newspapers online the day after the Divali holiday. I laughed uproariously on reading that the police had to be called out, on the day of the holiday, to control the unruly crowd at a popular roti chain. There’s my sweet Trinbago, I thought!

In similar vein I witnessed, first hand, the traffic congestion a few Fridays ago when a popular home-goods store had a sale in the east. A virtual traffic gridlock as Trinis, of different creeds and races, tried to find an equal place among the bargain hunters.

My point is that T&T does not have a race problem. I would admit though there is a level of racial intolerance. A mark of true independence is tolerance – as captured in our national watchwords – and a 55-year old is expected to display tolerance (not necessarily acceptance) of many things.

I close on a few personal notes. First congratulations to Bishop Harvey on his new role as shepherd of the flock in Grenada, Petite Martinique and Carriacou.  Bishop Harvey has been an important influence in my personal journey. I wish him Godspeed in this new chapter in his life and of course, nuff love!

Thanks to those readers who provided feedback on my last column. I feel confident that “…things will not fall apart…” if we bind together for a common national purpose.

Finally, a happy Independence to my fellow Trinbagonians. May we continue to strive to be a disciplined, productive and tolerant society!

That, my friends, is my point of view!