Margaret Nakhid - Chatoor.jpg

Over-thinking, re-thinking and/or the failure to think through current policies, strategies and interventions in the economy, in education and in our health and penal systems has perpetuated a power structure that is elitist and a populace on the verge of exploding into chaos, anarchy and subversive energies.

Most of the major social challenges that we face today in Trinidad and Tobago can be traced back to the socio-cultural consequences of living in a Third World society where successive governments, eager to compete and qualify for monies and grants from international lending agencies, have sought to commodify all aspects of how the people live and survive: from the ways we raise our children, to schooling practices; how we teach civics and values; which sexual identities we should consider to be respectable and what we should enjoy and see as pleasurable. Within a capitalist economic system, commodification is the transformation of goods, services, ideas and people into commodities or objects of trade.

Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism warned societies against blindly accepting a capitalist framework without closely examining the consequences of capitalism. He spoke about the severity of the capitalist economic framework which embodied practices that generated disenchantment as a function of economic growth and “which would lock us into an iron cage of rationality without feeling’’; that is, does the end (excessive expenditure on facades of buildings, extensive highways, etc) justify the means, without due care to the affective needs and feelings of citizens?

How many of our people continue to move about, roboticised by duty to family and self, without pleasure, locking themselves behind closed doors (cages) at the end of the day? The pursuit of pleasure and contentment in simple things has become a luxury, rather than a necessity, increasing the fallout in physical ailments and illnesses and pushing psychological well-being over the edge into an abyss of despair and disillusion.

To add to this dilemma, there seems to be a common thread in the many written discussions in the newspapers on the state of our society thus far—an impoverished understanding of the social ills and the interplay of human nature’s desire for peace and contentment.

This misunderstanding has robbed us of our ability to learn from the mistakes of the past, with a lack of common resolve and social and political will to put the pieces together for the good of our people, starting from the cradle.

There seems to be a lack of agency and intent to re-frame our cultural norms, rituals and traditions to current ways of being and knowing, and seek to root them in a transformational view of education as a form of personal and collective empowerment, for the individual and for the society in which we live.

Mis-education has created poverty, both tangible and intangible, that is real and alive in this country. I have often intimated that our politicians and economists should “walk the ground’’ and see for themselves, the struggle of many who do without basic necessities on a daily basis. But these blind persons choose to stay on privileged ground, high enough above the struggle where they continue to benefit from the uneven distribution of resources.

They constantly fail to link the violence and uneasiness that pervade our land to a lack of contentment and pleasure in home and family life and availability of jobs and amenities. The failure to link the absence of pleasure with the absence of social change has dire implications for any policy that is legislated and continues to commodify our people as objects, not as subjects.

There has to be an understanding of the motives and desires of a people, psychologically affected by the state of the society and driven to commit atrocities in the misguided hope of equalising the imbalance of economic resources that exist.

So that there is an urgent need for programmes of socialisation and enjoyment in our communities. We have lost the art of caring, which is an art that is cultivated and nurtured by others—no one is born with this. Who will sow the seeds of compassion and care, instead of sowing the seeds of doubt and despair by the various political parties, with their myopic and high-handed agendas?

The refusal to recognise that a happy and contented people are the stimulus for social development, and the continued dismissal of persons who advocate for morality and truth, paves the way for a self-destructive society that sacrifices the peace and goodwill of its people in the interest of a political agenda dictated by economics.

Will we be forever doomed to be the mimic men of a First World that is slowly disintegrating, replicating its global social ills?

When will the people of Trinidad and Tobago accept that we can stand on our own with the multiplicity of talent that we are blessed with? We can. We must. Or else we will perish.

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According to the World Health Organisation, domestic violence (DV) is the most common kind of violence and its incidence increases during times of health crisis. The current Covid-19-driven global pandemic has reinforced this proposition. In Trinidad and Tobago, the number of DV reports more than doubled since the implementation of quarantine and other pandemic-related measures. Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith shared the alarming figures during a press conference in April, 2020 at the peak of the quarantine period.

THE United National Congress elections are in the air and one wonders how free and fair they will be. Will there be the usual subterfuge since these elections, like all other elections in this politically, racially divided country, will inevitably evolve out of the usual tribal framework of “you scratch my back and I yours”, with leaders massaging the tribe to hold on to power and the tribe responding with unquestioning support for the “mess of pottage” that will be their reward?

I have to tell you that for the fifth time in the last five years, I am totally ashamed to be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. It matters not that I reside in England.

When I read about the treatment of several Venezuelan children—one just four months old—I felt sick. I couldn’t have cared less if they were immigrants, asylum seekers or illegal.

The US Ambassador’s public response to asylum-seeking children landing on our shores to escape hardships in Venezuela is, in diplomatic terms, profoundly irrational, and in local parlance, “farse and out-of-place”.

Perhaps the Ambassador has conveniently forgotten that the great United States of America shocked the world by placing migrant children in cages like animals and separating them from their parents. Or perhaps he is not conversant with the adage: those who live in glass houses…

Last week, Natalee Legore, the host of Morning Brew, spoke for many when she stated “we are not very clear as to why the police are able to take action in certain circumstances where people are gathered and not in others”.

It seems, she said, “that what is public and what is private seems to depend on what is going on”. That observation may well be a clue to resolving the legal interpretation of “public place”. However, in a society battered by rampant socio-economic inequality,