Think about the most dangerous places on earth. Which-ever country comes to your mind, Trinidad and Tobago is one of them, at least according to the business insider. Recently, the well-known online media outlet released one of those 'lists', placing Trinidad and Tobago as the 12th most dangerous country in the world. Now, it's certainly not difficult to make statistics dance like it's mid jourvert morning (the morning of Carnival celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago), with a Blaxx riddim blasting in the background. Under developed countries can appear developed, economic down-turns can be re-interpreted as economic restructuring, all with a bit of magic and some numbers on a piece of paper. It's not that hard. But Trinidad and Tobago's case is particularly different. As a country, it's a complex cocktail of race politics, socio-economic impoverishment, a corrupt political elite, and anecdotal excuses. If you spend enough time in Trinidad you'd fast come to observe what can only be described as a desensitization of the population to the loss of life. It's almost a real life experiment in how long a population could live under the persistent stress of fear for their actual lives; not material possessions, but human life. If it were a real life experiment, it has brought forth results...complete desensitization - particularly concerning the loss of human life. A normalization of the most horrific crimes one can imagine. But bear this in mind, the average Trinbagonian is afforded one comfort, a narrative peddled by elitist in the political sphere -those who're conveniently guaranteed state protection and security - who preach the sermon of: "some people have it worse than us."
Now it's not my intention to debase my own homeland from afar - it's easy to critique; but for the record, I've been as active as anyone in recommending 'fixes' for the problems Trinidad and Tobago has faced. And sometimes by identifying our flaws we speak to our higher ideals. Furthermore, a substantive critique of our state and the citizen could never necessarily be a bad thing. Certainly I'm not in bad company when one considers the critique forwarded by none other than Eric E. Williams: "Finally, the entire West Indian tradition is anti-intellectual. People's lives are bounded by the narrow materialistic considerations of the price of produce or the cost of living or the laziness of workers or the growth of crime and delinquency or gambling or chasing after women (or men as the case may be) or just plain gluttony and imbibing. Add to that the movies and the radio and in more modern days the equally pernicious television, and fit in somewhere in the schedule sleeping and working or making pretence of working, and the normal individual's day is complete. Cricket and football, a sports meeting, the races – and the normal year is complete. A Head of Government cannot be limited to such narrow and materialistic considerations. So I read deliberately, in silent protest against the bastardisation of so-called West Indian intellectualism." (December 3 1965).
As benign and abstract as the above quotation may appear, I'll contend that West Indian anti-intellectualism as it particularly relates to Trinidad and Tobago has resulted in something even more sinister. Some 53 years since the above quotation by the Father of the Nation, the 'bastardization of so-called West Indian intellectualism' has proven more costly than a merely uninformed populace. It's effectively resulted in a society permeated by greed, self interest, and the lack of the intellectual and moral discipline to commit to a short, medium, or long-term strategy that puts an end to the murders of men, women, and children in Trinidad and Tobago. What's even more absurd is to hear men like Professor Ramesh Deosaran complain. He was quoted as saying to the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspaper: "we need to know the criteria used and published and compare it to other countries because when you lump all countries as one in such a narrow analysis, you can give misleading results." Like really?? Who cares about the methodology Professor!?? Especially with 400 plus murders already in the year of 2018.
Mikhail E.D. Byng was born in Trinidad. He is the author of Off the Island and a graduate student at the University of Belgrade. He speaks Serbian and English.
Trinbagonian. Traveler. Believer in God. Believer in Creation. Life long Student. Sports enthusiast.