It is the height of irony that our local social media platforms on TV—often presumed as lacking in the accepted journalistic principles of rationality, discretion and fair play, et al—are some of the places where some of our critical issues as a nation are brought into focus.

This, even as our more accepted media continues to treat these same issues, if at all, with a conservatism that is its hallmark, and those individuals and organisations that are expected to give voice to such issues continue to maintain a deathly silence.

Gregory Aboud, in his letter in the last Sunday Express, “T&T’s syndrome of silence”, speaks of a pervasive silence over issues at all levels at the top and among the population, highlighting how easily the several murders at the weekend had been glossed over and almost completely forgotten; and Rajendra Ramlogan in another newspaper on Monday, in an article headlined “Waiting for Godot at Auzonville Park”, writing of a nation “perpetually asleep” over the critical issues which affect us.

There are many perspectives to this deafening silence. Maybe it is because we are Third World, no different from countries in Africa and South America, where patronage and privilege are rife in the politics, the favoured preferring to enjoy the perks of corruption rather than speak out against it in the national good.

Ours in T&T is a classic manifestation of how such patronage and privilege are enmeshed in a politics of ethnic division, in which leaders for the faithful can do no wrong and corruption is allowed to reign without a voice against it as the beneficiaries feed off the trough.

Then there is threat of subtle and not-so-subtle intimidation, as in the case of journalists in interviews being dissuaded, and not so discreetly, from probing certain issues, or the perennial threat of libel over seemingly false claims or language unbecoming of senior public officials, which begs the question that with such a Sword of Damocles over their heads, whether local journalists possess the strength of character to stand up for issues on principle, whatever the consequences.

So is it any wonder that our journalists will continue to look for safe spaces, not rocking the political boat or aggravating the establishment or the leadership, with respect to Covid, reporting only on the fact of no US vaccines without probing the impact of Maduro/Chinese connection on such a denial, or on the numbers without asking questions of the effectiveness of the cycle of treatment considering the recurring deaths for such a small country, or the recent management of the virus without unearthing the real causes or being accommodating to a leadership which continues to be less introspective, and more contemptuous of public reaction, no better illustrated than in the insinuation, according to one report, that the people are chickens that must “scatter” after purchasing KFC!

And will they be obliged to gloss over other issues like the impending mothballing of Atlantic LNG Train 1 without asking questions about who or what are responsible or about the closure of Petrotrin and the continuing masquerade over its reopening?

But if our local journalists are constrained in their efforts to be investigative in their approach, will those who should, like the individuals and organisations who often set themselves up as acting in the cause of the people, supplement or fulfil that role?

I think not, for our politics of the self, as against the interests of the nation, has made us a people of “silence”, as Aboud would say; or a nation in a state of “perpetual sleep”, as Ramlogan sees it.

What have we got, then, except these seemingly boisterous media platforms to at least create the illusion of a society asking questions about itself?

Dr Errol N Benjamin

via e-mail

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As it prepares to ramp up its communications to counteract vaccine hesitancy, the Ministry of Health’s best chance for success lies in aligning its messaging to the concerns of its target audience.

With the race now on to get vaccines into arms before the more transmissible Delta variant arrives, it might be too late for crafting a scientifically sound public awareness campaign. Nonetheless, a willingness to listen and learn will go a long way in erasing lingering doubts and changing minds.

I have termed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his Finance Minister Colm Imbert the “Diego Martin dinosaurs”, politicians “intellectually fossilised by fossil fuels” who failed to see the global energy revolution threatening the nation’s economy, about which I warned repeatedly for five years.

I got vaccinated last week. I received the first of two doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine. I chose the drive-through option at the Ato Boldon Stadium because it is close to my home and I didn’t have to leave the privacy or comfort of my car to queue up at any stage of the proceedings, which is helpful to people who suffer with Parkinson’s and similar neurological disorders.

Once more, the families of seafarers are left to mourn the death of their relatives out at sea. This time the victims are two fishermen who apparently were attacked by pirates.

The incidents of people drowning at sea have become far too prevalent. It is time the authorities make the wearing of life jackets on open vessels mandatory. This would help to save the lives of many people, whether they are fishermen or people on pleasure trips.

Vaccine hesitancy is a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccine services.

Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context-specific, varying across time, place and vaccines. It is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence.

There is a story about a Samaritan called “good” in the Bible because he did not walk past a suffering Jew. He had no prior relationship with the man lying beaten on the roadside, was not part of his community, yet he acted out of compassion. Giving up his rights and freedom, he helped the man recover and get on with life.