by Vernon Khelawan
When politicians come to you at election time, they come for one, single purpose – seeking your vote. At that time, they make multitudinous promises, fully aware they cannot keep them. At that time, they pledge to serve you with their all. But that is only until they are declared victorious, then you are longer needed, the promises are forgotten, and their service, well, that goes the way of all flesh.
President Anthony Carmona, in talking to parishioners of St Martin de Porres RC Church at Morne Diablo last weekend, put the whole question of service very nicely when he said there was need for service leadership rather than power leadership. But it would seem our politicians haven’t the slightest idea of how to separate the two.
Explaining what he meant, the President said, “It is never about power, it is about service…it is all about engaging service and leadership, not power.” He added, “I continue to preach this in Trinidad and Tobago because it is not happening. We need service leadership rather than power leadership. As part of that service leadership, we need compassion, mercy, forgiveness; we need to embrace rather than shove off.”
This is what I do not understand. Why do our politicians behave the way they do having achieved high office? The transformation is so sudden and real. Service is thrown aside as well as the other virtues of compassion and mercy. So rather than seeing that the best interests of the country become paramount, they now have other interests.
How else can one explain, given the financial constraints we are under, planning so many large projects which are almost useless to the country, when there are so many small projects crying out for immediate attention and which will alleviate so many ills of the small man. Aren’t the parliamentarians supposed to represent ALL the people and to make sure that their work is always done in the best interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago?
But most times the decisions taken by the political directorate seem to go against that very principle. I don’t think the people are over ambitious when they seek repairs to their roads or better service from the utilities like the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), or speedier attention at our hospitals and health centres, medication included. What about creating a safer environment where common people are free to mingle and gather? How about showing greater love, kindness and empathy to our older folk?
Our parliamentarians prefer the prestige projects like the Brian Lara Cricket Academy at Tarouba which remains empty after expenditure of almost $100 million; or a partial highway to Manzanilla costing $400 million, and the ferry fiasco – the real story still to be told – costing millions while being a total disservice to inter-island travellers.
What is needed for the country to move forward is a complete transformation of the society, with politicians at the helm, using education, respect for law and order, dignity, kindness and forgiveness to rebuild the entire country.
And to quote from an editorial in The WORD among us by Leo Zanchettin, “If we can create an environment of welcome, respect and love in our homes, we will find it much easier to deal with whatever divisions crop up. We will work together to find a way to speak the truth to one another, but to do so in love and humility, not in conflict or animosity.”