Patriotism matters

My people self dey fear too much
Dem fear for the thing we no see
Dem fear for the air around us

We fear to fight for freedom
We fear to fight for liberty
We fear to fight for justice
We fear to fight for happiness
We always get reason to fear
Sorrow Tears and Blood, Fela Kuti
One of the accusations that has been leveled at the anti-smelter lobby over the past two years is that it’s mainly motivated by over-enthusiastic tree huggers (yes, that’s me) who are talking more out of emotion than a real understanding of the economic and technical issues.
Which is neither here nor there with me.  Patriotism, the feeling that you have when you’re flying over the Northern Range or the way your spirit soars when you bend that last bend as catch sight of Maracas Bay, that’s emotional.
That’s what keeps us here, in spite of the fact that we’re living in some kind of nightmare in paradise.  The feeling in the pit of our bellies is what keeps us rooted here even though the soil is shifting beneath our feet.
I don’t know when Trinis became unfeeling sheep.  I wondered about this between 4 and 5 o’clock trying to go east from City Gate.  Watching little children being trampled on.  The passengers around me laughing at the fact that the maxi taxis are coming to the platform almost full.
And I started to get damn vexed until soon enough I was shouting at the police office talking to the tick ting on the next platform that he wasn’t doing his job.  And I started boofing up the people around me that they aren’t animals and this is not what it means to be a Trinbagonian.
Emotions come to the fore when you see a situation that is unreasonable.  When you just can’t seem to get your head around why in your own country you have no access to vast wealth, even if it’s just being able to get a bus without having to elbow other commuters out of the way.
I get emotional when I read the Alutrint Environmental Impact Assessment and I see the figures there in black and white that only 410 locals will get employed out of a total of 1,982 jobs that will be available during the peak construction phase.  I get emotional when I hear that on the day of Papa Patos’ symposium in Vessigny, commuters in Arima couldn’t get a bus to get into town because all the buses were being used to take the Fat Arse Brigade on an excursion.
I get emotional for more witnesses murdered and more little girls being molested and for the children living in Sobo and Union Villages who have to deal with the dust of 1000 acres of cleared land yet again.
But what do I do when the Father of the Nation says I’m in collusion with druglords?  I check my water tank.  Because I know that soon enough the time is coming when every act of questioning, every voice that sounds in opposition to the Big Daddy appointed by God will be demonized.
The equation is going to be drawn like it was in America by the neo conservatives, that anyone who isn’t for the government is a traitor.
Already there is this stiff necked capitalist assumption that people who value trees are somehow against progress and development.  That people who believe in empowering communities are some strange breed of alien.
Because by empowerment I don’t mean sponsoring full page ads for Village Councils to endorse Alutrint when there are countless people in La Brea who will tell you that no one asked for their opinion.
I appreciate the crass stupidity that prompts Papa Patos to make his pronouncements, as much as I appreciate that every legitimate community concern becomes a good jackass for opposition parties to ride.
However I also understand the significance of heavily armed soliders in town.
This is the time of professional protesters.  Of direct action for direct results.  Whether it is Chatham or Chiapas, people are standing up and pelting social big stones at state tanks.

I want to see how many Trinbagonians start feeling the feelings.  The next year is going to be a real test of who is willing to get emotional and stop waiting for the state to decide how next they’re going to jam us.

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