Clean Hands, Please

Nothing new left to say
Can be heard
Nothing helps me find my way
Empty words
No more will I question why
What we feel
Nothing left to make me try
Nothing’s real

—Nothing, Nitin Sawhney

There aren’t many days that go by in this yes man town without me thinking about the value of civil disobedience.

It’s the only option you have when the house Negroes are running amok, unleashing their own scary brand of oppression. When class struggle is masked in imitation perfume and SUVs. Civil disobedience makes sense in a way that most things don’t.

It’s especially on my mind these days, with Christmas in the air and the story of that revolutionary fellar Jesus hidden under a mass of frou frou and folly.

From South Africa to India to Galilee. I read about these heroes of civil disobedience. Conscientious objectors. Tree huggers and rabble rousers. Elderly women in Niger engaging in a silent, naked protest against Shell’s involvement in the murdering of their men and the destruction of their land. I fill my head with their stories and pray to have even a morsel of their bravery, humility and ingenuity.

Whether you are an indigenous Indian in the Chiapas region of the Mexico demanding land rights or a Chatham resident protecting your land against the introduction of an aluminum smelter, making a statement is not just your right, it is your duty.

Civil disobedience in its most non-violent form is compassion in the form of respectful disagreement.

History offers us many examples of people who stood for non-violent protest, who stood for civil disobedience, who stood for regular people defending their right to justice, good governance and a peaceful sustainable livelihood.

So when I read that Basdeo Panday justifies as civil disobedience his childish little I’m going to wipe my hand and not say hello because I don’t like you, I want to ask him if he understands or remembers what that means.

Granted I would probably hesitate to shake Papa Patos’ hand too, but then again I’m not facing corruption charges.

It’s more glaring than that obscene waste of electricity on top of the KFC on Independence Square, that the UNC wouldn’t know civil disobedience if it came up and wined on them on J’ouvert morning.

Unfortunately for us, we are besieged by leaders and their foreign cohorts who still think they can come and tie us up with high tech terms and high falutin words. We’re supposed to be dazzled and mesmerized by any tata that they spew, provided it’s loud enough or accompanied with the appropriate amount of bells and whistles.

I wish Basdeo Panday for one moment would remember where he came from. Remember his days as a young lawyer with a social conscience, before he joined the parasitic oligarchy and started prancing around in a beret like some kind of ole mas on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of Poison. I wish Basdeo Panday would remember or one of his party faithful would remind him that he stood for something once upon a time.

For this generation who have no benefit of first hand memory of when he was a serious challenge. I wish someone would tell him to get real and have a little more dignity. That the masculinist frothing at the mouth is so last century.

We have too many fossils parading as sacred in this country. Too many institutions that mean nothing to us that we’re supposed to show respect for. But that doesn’t mean that because Uncle Ramesh and Uncle Bas are nursing their school ground grudges and acting like spoilt children we’re all supposed to convince ourselves that they’re somehow right or justified.

Because if the UNC were serious about doing something about the political climate in Trinidad and Tobago, Basdeo Panday wouldn’t be the leader of the Opposition.

I wish politicians would wipe their hands clean of their own hyprocrisy. And wipe their hands of dirty politics and fear mongering. I wish they would all just grow and move on and let someone else have a go instead of dragging us through the drudgery of their same old hurts and their same old insecurities and their same old hang-ups. It’s not just boring, it’s out a timing and counter-productive.

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