The Economics of Fear

I’m crying everyone’s tears;
And there inside our private war;
I died the night before;
And all of these remnants of joy; and disaster.
What am I supposed to do?
I want to cook you a soup that warms your soul;
But nothing would change, nothing would change at all;
It’s just a day that brings it all about;
Just another day and nothing’s any good.

—King of Sorrow, Sade

The only people in Trinidad who seem to be getting more clever and using their smarts to get ahead is the bandits. While parliamentarians quibble about who should get guns, and how far down the slippery slope to police statehood we are going to descend in the next few months, the thieves are having a time. They are stealing not just dollars. They are stealing our sense of who we are, our sense of perspective on what is right, our compassion, our faith in humanity.

There’s no sense in blaming the teachers or the communities they come from. The fact is that we have prestige-school bandits walking around unmasked and unapologetic and thieving us blind, in addition to a complacent majority who remain blissfully unaffected by all of the many problems prove that we’re all in the same boat of not really caring about what happens to Trinidad.

The two most important organisations in the country—the Environment Commission and the Integrity Commission—are essentially useless. This speaks volumes about how we continue to perceive crime. While parliamentarians argue we are losing the right to live in safety. Who stands to benefit from precepted soldiers? Who is going to get a nice little contract from the Government to bring in the latest arms for us to kill each other with? Which multi-national corporation is going to benefit from our burning desire to kill each other?

What else could we do with the money that we’d be spending to train soldiers to intimidate communities? It’s also about the economics, baby. And somebody is making a lot of money off our fear. Meanwhile, we baulk at the revelation by Huffington Post that T&T is number eight in the world’s least friendly places for tourists. Forget tourists, Trinidad is one of the least friendly places on the planet for its own citizens. 

We have black gold and we don’t need white tourists. We have black gold to kill our fish and pollute our waterways and build big buildings and waste money on stupidness. As the bandits become more sophisticated and the Government gets more hysterical and the people who have things to steal get more paranoid and paralysed by fear, there isn’t much thought going on as to how to get the thieves to stop stealing and men to stop raping women and children.

The problem is not that there was maybe one house in St Joseph having a meeting about destabilising the country. The country has never really been stable. The country has been unstable since Hyarima times. The country is always on the brink of boiling over, of exploding with rage at one injustice or another. 

We constantly rhapsodise for a time when life was sweet in Trinidad. But there have always been people here eating the bread the devil knead, on the outskirts, staying alive through sheer will power and bad mind. There have always been people trying their best with the little they have. Finding joy in simplicity, planting their own food, hoping for better for their children. And those of us who have been untouched by the madness have been led to believe that if we continue to ignore it, it doesn’t matter.

But as long as there are people taking advantage of others, the country will continue to be unstable. Right now the war is on for the soul of our country and if we’re not, every last one of us, actively engaged and prepared to battle, then what is the point? What is the point of a Constitution that is only for some of us? What is the point of sitting down and waiting for somebody else to figure it out?

The problem is that all our houses aren’t having meetings to figure out ways to do something about the country and the Government. The problem is that we aren’t having nightly meetings in every house, hatching plots to assassinate the complacent, defeatist mentality of our families and friends and neighbours. 

Published in the Trinidad Guardian March 16, 2013

The heart of the matter

So the latest zeppo in the media world is that our favourite economic hitman with a big heart is calling for the head of a local journalist.

The source of his knickers being in a bunch this week, is not, curiously, the fact that the entire country is royally pissed off that our Prime Minister seems to be giving him a lot of lee way with our money, but rather that there’s an email in circulation raising some rather interesting points about his life story.

Incidentally the email started spreading like a dry season Northern Range bush fire on the same day that the Rottweiler got dismissed by the big Pappy.

I’ve seen the email in question, as has everybody else with a computer and an active email address. Everybody knows there’s nothing that Trinbagonians like to do more than forward emails, whether they are true or not is immaterial.

Anyway, so incensed was our dear friend with the big chest muscle that he decided to make an example of this local editor who, like most other people, passed on the information.

And I don’t have court clothes, eh, but I just want to put my two cents in and say, doesn’t it seem as if the conquistador doth protest too much? Put another way, if you don’t have cocoa in the sun, why oh why are you looking for rain?

Funnily enough, we’re observing World Press Freedom Day on May 3. I wonder what kinds of questions this latest piece of intimidation and ‘example making’ will raise. She wasn’t the only one to receive this email, why make her a target?

A most interesting and unfortunate development.  We’ll see where this example of big people bullying takes us.

The Real Terrorism

I heard terrorism makes good television
It’s no coincidence and as a matter of fact
If it weren’t guaranteed to be on television
There’d be less reason for a terrorist attack

I say television ignores terrorism
When was the last time you saw on your screen
The assassinations and bombings and bulldozers that
Are just a part of our government’s routine
Terrorism makes good TV, Pierce Woodward

So, the talk is that Trinidad and Tobago is a hotbed of terrorist activity.
And I am inclined to agree with that supposition but for entirely different reasons to those posed by that alarmist piece of thinly veiled jingoism that appeared in some nondescript publication called
In this buzz word time when everybody wants to be the one to coin the next catchy piece of double speak, we really need to understand what terrorism means to us.
Funny that homeland security only refers to big bad countries who give multi million dollar contracts to aluminum companies to build their arms for them.  Funny that our little piece of rock has no conception of security, or the value of patrimony, for the people and not the corporatocracy.
And maybe if for one minute we were to consider the terrorists we wanted to protect ourselves against, maybe we’d start with the ones in jackets and ties who say things like they have a job to do and let’s look at the figures and not the people.
If we wanted to protect ourselves against the common enemy maybe we would discover that the common enemy is fear.
Fear of each other, fear of poverty, fear of stagnation, fear of not being able to know if you will live out your days without being shot, maimed, run over or off the road, bludgeoned with a crowbar.
In a country of 1.3 million people there are six million ways to die. And I was told that I didn’t have a head for maths so I guess that’s why the figures don’t really make sense to me.
I’m checking out the situation and it occurs to me that the real threat is not from real or imagined bogey men lurking in a compound on Mucurapo Road.
I don’t understand why we need to import American paranoia.  Aren’t we scared enough already as it is?  Haven’t we gorged ourselves with enough of their mythology?  Aren’t we too trying to live out the American nightmare with our chicken and chips proclivity?
If we want to talk about terrorism in Trinidad, why don’t we talk about those terrorists in that red building in the middle of the woefully stink city of Port of Spain.
Terrorism is a government that ignores the voices of people.
Terrorism is police officers arresting a man on dubious charges and not giving a justification.  Terrorism is undermining press freedoms because you are so caught up in urban creole racism and Christian sanctimony that you treat everyone with a different perspective like a criminal while some jackasses are allowed to bray on national radio with impunity.
Terrorism is pastors beating their Bibles and calling for hangings, but not talking about small church corruption.
Terrorism is what happens every night to street children in Port of Spain and Curepe and St. James.
Just when we’ll get interested enough in that kind of terrorism I’d really like to know.  Instead of clouding the issues with the scare mongering tactics of rich white men in America who want to protect their oil supply so that they can build bigger and better SUV’s every year.
I fear for my land that cannot breathe.  I fear for melting icebergs and rising ocean levels. I fear for children who get shot in crossfire and grannies who cannot die with dignity.  I fear for a future that looks less and less bright every time Papa Patos or anyone from the so-called opposition open their mouths.
I do not fear for civilizations built on the blood and sweat of my ancestors. al Qaeda won’t be responsible for anyone’s fall. Civilisations destroy themselves from the inside, under the weight of all their guilt and wealth and opulence and oppression.
The biggest threat to our security is our collective insecurity.  The insecurity that fosters greed.  The many isms that keep us peeping over our walls not wanting to reach out to those who are different.