Forgive me if I’m somewhat of a pessimist, but progress of this nature, on the social front, doesn't warm my soul as it once did – especially in the context of a country with a homicide rate rivaling that of a war torn country.
Now some may argue:, “Make some room for a little joy bruda…jahhh”, “Why always so negative”!? Well, once you've lost friends to violence, and you still see that the core problems exist (eg. ineffective police service, leadership fearful of the tough decisions etc.) you’ll find yourself just as hard-pressed to find the silver lining in the clouds of doubt.
Now, as some of you may know, here at PBP, we were bold advocates of Calypso Rose for President. Although the country did name its first first female President, and as of recent Calypso Rose has been donned with a Diplomatic passport (the first time something of the sort has happened to a Calypsonian) we should realize, that the trappings of progress doesn't actually mean PROGRESS.
People usually speak in general terms about fixing the problem of crime in Trinidad and Tobago, but here at PBP I think we've made attempts to be as specific as possible in recommending solutions to the problem. This has given us some leeway for a bit of 'humble pontification'.
Mainly, we see crime as a two layer problem: Systematic and Cultural. 1) Systematically, the police service primarily needs to be improved. Years prior, we made recommendations in this regard - as small of a contribution as it was, it certainly was a move in the right direction.
On the cultural front, we've always attempted to pay it forward and give back, through experiences and knowledge. In addition, programs like the poetry slam, golden eagle beach games, and others have played a critical role in engaging the youth (and we've advocated the replication of similar projects), and we view programs of this nature as critical in contributing to progress.
On the political level, I've always asked the question: Shouldn't the leader of a country be willing to die for their country? and the principles that they stand for? Any leader worth his or her salt should be willing to put their lives on the line to sacrifice for their country; to make the tough decisions, even though it may put their lives in jeopardy. ANR Robinson was prepared to do so. Selwyn Richardson paid the ultimate price.
Can any of our leaders answer this in the affirmative? Are you willing to die for your country? If yes, the tough decisions won’t seem that tough anymore. If no, maybe its best to stay in the private sector and make your millions; although in the private sector people are actually held to account for their actions to some degree, maybe that's why our leaders love 'serving their country' so much.
The reality is that most leaders today aren't prepared to answer that question in the affirmative. It appears that the trappings of office, the prestige of being the 'leader' of a country, unlimited access to different brands of rum or golf courses, occupy the attention of our leaders more than making the tough decisions. Let's just hope that this changes...
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.