And the Fete goes on

Don’t they know
A blind man could see
That this is blatant hypocrisy
The real traitors an dem are high in society
Yet the Government protecting all ah dem
And penalising you and me
Good Citizen, Mighty Sparrow

Look what representation come to, eh. Look what change you can believe in looks like. The pigs are walking upright and throwing filth at us. Look what we voted for and rejoiced at. Look at what we breathed loud sighs of relief for, when we were rid of the megalomaniac Papa Patos.

We really reach where we have to go. Again. Because we’ve been here before. At this same point. So don’t act too surprised. This is the cycle we know best. But the spaces in between the points of fedupcy of the people. Those spaces are growing larger. Those moments are fewer and further between. And not because our governments are getting better. But because we are become less and less convinced of our power.

Watch them, nah. Sending police to maco unarmed protesters eating portugals and chatting quietly among themselves. The officers look like they’re not too sure why they’re there. Protecting, like the rest of us, the little work that they have. Unsure of the consequences if they were to say no to their superiors.

Look what piety come to. Saying hurry up and dead one day and piously praying the next. Does their god only hear prayers? Is his hearing aid off the rest of the time? The problem is that we’re so busy watching what the other person is doing we dare not do for ourselves. The problem is that it’s far easier to be on the sidelines making snarky comments than to actually do the work to be the change that is so necessary.

We’re always looking for a messiah. We’re always looking for somebody to tell us that it’s okay to be vocal. A person who gives us something to believe in that is outside of ourselves, so if it fails we’re not too personally invested. We can’t help that Father-of-the-Nation syndrome. The complicated relationships between the leader and the led.

The problem is not Jack Warner. The problem is not how many of us gather outside the Prime Minister’s office. The problem is not the People’s Partnership. They are doing the best they can. It’s a pity that this is all they can muster and that it is mediocre at best and at worst a total heartbreaking disaster.

The problem is that we are sitting back and allowing these people to insult our intelligence and embarrass our country internationally. We want someone else to die for us. We are neither willing to die nor to kill for what we believe in. It’s not about one person.

It’s not about one Government. They do their job really well. Their job, as inherited from colonial authorities, is to seek the economic interests of others and position themselves in a way that they can get a little scraping of the left-over cream.

So while we’re looking for someone else to die for us, some other martyr for us to remember with our tears, we are not thinking about shutting the country down. While we are trying to get the Government to understand that they can’t make a business out of art without first consulting the artists, walls are bare of words that really let them know how we feel. And the fete goes on.

The fete goes on despite the questions. If we have more highway, will we have less traffic? If we have more police, will we have less crime? If we have more industry, will we have more wealth? If we have more buildings, will we have more employment? If we have a TTCIC, will we have better art?

It shouldn’t be up to one person to sacrifice his life for all of us. It shouldn’t be up to a bunch of self-serving pencil-pushers to decide what version of development we should have. It shouldn’t be up to a state-appointed board to say how our arts industry gets to its full potential.

In the past two years, many lines have been drawn in the sand. And this Government has been teetering on the brink of collapse for so long we’re not sure when it was ever stable and looked like it had a clue. In the past two years, this Government has done nothing if not surpass our wildest expectations of just how much of a pappyshow the democratic process can be. And how easy it is to disguise yourself in a well-executed campaign.

In the past two years this Government has done nothing if not totally convince us that this idea of governance that we have is not just flawed but totally unsuited to forward movement. I wonder if we’ll let them get to the end of their five years before we start the cycle all over again.

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.