You are here
The power of the finger—power of the people
After the excitement and euphoria of the second week of Olympics in London and the truly fantastic closing ceremony and the after party in Hyde Park, we decided to head out to Scotland to continue the vacation. Driving from London to Stranraer and its Lighthouse Hotel, then to Glasgow and on to Edingburgh, then back down to London.
I covered literally thousands of miles, driving almost the entire length of England and parts of Scotland, passing through Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Preston, Carlilse, Wolverhampton and many other towns and cities as we criss-crossed the greater part of the United Kingdom.
Apart from the gorgeous scenery and vistas of Scotland’s rugged and craggy coastlines and the peaceful serenity of the English countryside, I couldn’t help but notice the remarkable absence of potholes, broken pavements, clogged drains and silted up watercourses along the way.
No one would be so naive as to think that these things don’t exist at all in the UK, but it was quite amazing to traverse more than a thousand miles by car and not see any such things. In T&T one could hardly go one thousand feet without noticing some drain clogged or silted up, some pavements dirty, broken and in disrepair and muddy potholed streets, even in the capital city. Corner of Abercromby and Queen streets is a case in point.
As we prepare to celebrate Trinidad and Tobago’s 50th anniversary, it is essential that we take a serious look at our physical and political infrastructure and the way each is planned, laid out, built and maintained because we are truly kidding ourselves about becoming a developed nation if we don’t start with fixing the basic physical and political infrastructure in our country.
We go through the annual cycle of lamenting poor drains and watercourse infrastructures, we complain repeatedly about silted and clogged drains and every year like clockwork, the rains come again and destroy crops, livestock, homes and possessions—and this time it took the lives of two persons. We then ascribe blame saying it was an “Act of God”. Remember Hugh Francis was the first politician on record to blame God for governmental inefficiency and incompetence in this regard?
We blame other politicians and other regimes in a constant game of passing the buck and saying like Shaggy, “It wasn’t me”, and while the Olympic Games were concluding, our political games were in full swing here in Trinidad and Tobago and the population continues to suffer.
In London this week, Sir Richard Branson was quoted as criticising British authorities for failing to approve the bid from his Virgin Rail to continue its control and servicing of the West Coast mainline rail franchise. He cited an old saying in his criticism of the Transport minister to the effect that it is insanity, to continue doing the same things in the same way and expect different results.
In this regard, we do not need to look very far to see the examples of insanity all around us here in T&T. We allow our politicians to routinely feed us, fool us, flatter us and then fart on us and we seem to get intoxicated by the stench of the aroma, so much that we go and vote them in again for another five years without ever once holding them accountable for their recklessness and mismanagement of our country and its economy.
As one approaches 50 as a human being, it is usually a time to pause, reflect and look at what were the first 50 years to see the goals, the achievements, the highs, the lows and to assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and to look at possible faults, potential corrections and solutions and probable growth and improvement areas. As a nation, we seem to not even be considering such mature, reasoned introspection and the focus is more on the fun, frivolities, the festivities and the feteing.
We may really owe the late Sir Ellis Clarke a collective apology for our condemnation of him when he made the poignant, potent and pertinent observation that “we like it so”. He was merely holding up a mirror to the face of our society and now, decades later, he has passed on and we are still the same, no growth or improvement in our collective maturity and our political intelligence. We are just as easily fooled and seduced as we have ever been. We just sing, dance, wine, jam and laugh it all off as a national joke and feel powerless to change things.
All is not lost, however, and as I’ve always said and will continue to say, I have tremendous faith that our young people will have the courage, insight and determination to stand up and save this country in ways that their parents, teachers and current leaders have all failed to do.
One only has to look at the events of the Arab Spring and the changes sweeping across parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East to realise that a new dawn is breaking and that young persons are becoming restless with the tired old excuses from the tired old politicians.
This is the real world we live in, and whether we accept it or not, this is the bigger picture around us, which inevitably affects and afflicts us at some point in time. When will we begin to understand, like folks in these other countries, that our politicians are elected by us to work for us and that if we are to see results we must start holding them accountable? When will we begin to truly understand and appreciate and exercise the power of the finger—the power of the people?
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.