On the weekend, acting Prime Minister Austin Jack Warner, commenting on a car accident that left four people dead and acting Chief Justice Wendell Kangaloo in a critical condition, was quoted as saying that it is only when there is discipline on the roads will there be a reduction of accidents. Any one of us or our loved ones, like Mr Kangaloo, can become an innocent victim.The words of his special branch driver that there was nothing he could do was a heartfelt echo of hopelessness and frustration. The reason why Mr Warner’s words struck me and triggered the theme of today’s column was his sincere and heartfelt comment about self-discipline on the roads. We may not want to admit it, but a lack of discipline on our nation’s roads is a symptom of a deeper malaise in our society. There cannot be discipline on our roads in the absence of discipline in our schools, homes, parliament and communities. The problem goes far deeper than just a lack of discipline on our roads.
This manifestation of a lack of discipline is evident in sport. The major problem facing West Indies cricket is not the absence of talent and potential but a lack of discipline, focus and concentration. Quick fix and impatience: everyone wants to do what they want when they want how they want. We are always looking for the easy answer or way out. Our focus is on the destination. We take great pride in shouting. We reach or we win without appreciating that achieving and sustaining success and excellence demands discipline, dedication and commitment. It is a sad irony that it was Mr Kangaloo’s discipline and dedication to horse racing and his horses that put him in harm’s way on his journey to the Santa Rosa race course in Arima to see his horses work out. As a nation and a society, we all need to do some introspection and give deep thought on what is the root cause of the general lack of discipline. A starting point certainly will be to remember that the onus is on the leaders to not only state that the answer is discipline but to also articulate what discipline means.
It is already part of our national watchwords: Discipline, tolerance and production. It begs the question: is a lack of discipline aligned to a change in our value system? Is it that too many of us live our lives as if it is an entitlement and not a privilege and a responsibility? The examples that are being set suggest that we take life for granted, we take each other for granted and we take our talent and potential for granted. This lack of discipline is evident on our sport fields and among our young and talented sportsmen and women. It is also on display in the way we treat each other and conduct business. It is on display on our roads, in parliament, in our boardrooms, homes and communities. In the absence of discipline there can be no true respect, honesty transparency or accountability. If we are to build a better, safer and more peaceful and sustainable T&T, we must first address the root cause, not the symptoms. It is only when there is discipline in our heart and minds there will be a reduction of road accidents. It is only when the value of discipline is instilled in our homes, communities and schools, that discipline will become a watchword of modern day T&T society and life.
Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the T&T Olympic Committee http// www.ttoc.org.
The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.