By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
December 31, 2017
A democracy was always meant to be a big boisterous place where all citizens come together to share their ideas about what constitutes the ideal state. In recent time radio talk shows and social media are serving that role-the exchange of ideas-but such avenues are not necessarily the most efficacious ways of soliciting/eliciting citizens’ views.
How we behave in society and the courtesies we extend to others are also important for building social cohesion. A country expects its leaders to lead exemplary lives and conduct themselves in ways that are worthy of emulation. In our society, things have been slipping for a while. We need to see where we have gone wrong.
The behavior of our Chief Justice may be telling. Our citizens pay him a handsome salary and there are substantial benefits that go with his job. I am not sure what he is accused of, the insinuations surrounding his behavior, or the queries about how he carries out his functions.
The Express asks him to clarify some matters, which they believe are pertinent to the administration of justice. At first, he relies upon circumlocutions, then, in a terse statement declares that it is “‘false, and indeed irresponsible’ to suggest at a meeting of judges, that he or any other judge discussed the retention of any private security firm for the purpose of providing personal security” (Express, December 16).
The purported allegations may have been false, but I thought the Express wanted to know if the CJ was associating himself with a known criminal and, if so, does such an association impinge upon how he conducts judicial business and can his association bring the judiciary into disrepute. Ramesh Lawrence asserted “a judge who is the subject of published allegations which have the effect of damaging the reputation of the Judiciary owes a duty to the public and to the legal profession to answer the allegations by giving satisfactory explanations in response to the publications” (Guardian, December 17).
Then we have the vulgarity of the Prime Minister who threatened to kick the shit out of Roodal Moonilal. Pointing to the shit kickers he was wearing, he announced: “You see these boots I’m wearing? We, the farmers of Tobago and Texas, we call them shit kickers, right. And I am hoping that I meet Dr. Moonilal today but I haven’t met him so far.” (Express, December 18).
In his puerile braggadocio, the PM sounded as one of the worst brothers from Beetham Estates, Enterprise, Train Line, or Maloney. Texans implore, “Put on your boots and cowboy hat. We are going shit kicking tonight.” Rowley, on the other hand, was feeling much pride in his “shit kickers.” He infers, “This is ass-kicking time today!”
The PM and the CJ are the second and third highest office-holders in the land respectively. They stand atop the social order. They are expected to be our social exemplars, both in how they behave and how they use the language. Moreover, in an age of growing criminality and disrespect for the judiciary, they must be careful of their behavior and their speech. They must always conduct themselves in a manner that is beyond reproach.
We marveled at the coarseness of the behavior of the people of Beetham Estates when they descended on the city to defend their dawgs. But is there any fundamental difference between their behavior and those of the big dawgs? Didn’t the PM declare that the gentleman who is alleged to have siphoned off $80 million from the oil company is his friend, and isn’t the gentleman who accompanies the CJ on his many visits abroad a reputed criminal?
I prefer to explain the behavior and language of our leaders as products of a common zeitgeist. Thus, it is not the characteristic of the individuals who find themselves in leadership positions that we should focus on but the internal social factors that shape their behavior. They are neither better nor worse than those around them.
When residents of Beetham demanded their “rights,” and that we don’t touch their “dawgs,” or some unnamed individuals liberate $5 million from Piarco in broad daylight, they are behaving no differently from those “respected” citizens at the top of society who feel that their status gives them liberties that those at the bottom do not possess.
No amount of money can solve this problem. Each day our society degenerates and we act coarser. It grows worse as we continue to believe that somehow the essence of our problem consists of a war between “us” (the respectable ones) and “them,” the wretched of the earth as Franz Fanon once called them. We lie to ourselves.
In The Shy Lady, Rhonda del Bocccio suggests, “When the sun rises, it rises for everyone.” Bob Marley, the people’s philosopher, puts it this way, “When the rain falls, it don’t fall on one man’s house, Remember that!”
In a way, we are all caught in a trap of lowered expectations. Is it too much to ask those at the top of the social ladder to behave with more circumspection, grace and dignity?
Who knows, it might be a part of our salvation.
4 thoughts on “Big Dawgs and Ass-Kicking Time”
Dr Cujoe, at no time in the annals of History, was Democracy meant to be a Big Boisterous place, where all citizens came together to share their ideas of what constitutes the ideal state. Did the GREEKS encompass everyone? no, only the holders of titles were allowed to vote, Women, the ordinary people and slaves were not recognized. The equality of men in the USA’ charter, really meant the plantation owners, and again, Women, Serfs and Slaves had no say, even in Trinidad and the other Slave holding Islands,the same was meted. Democracy, is the science of the controlling powers, local and International, to keep the wider society subjugated, Religion, Military, the Judiciary, Police and the Prisons, are the foundations that makes it boisterous. If Democracy, is that the rich should continue to get richer, and the poor slides into perpetual regression, then the chains have never been broken, if democracy is equal only in voting, then the Beetham and other civil issues, will be unabated. If justice creeps, while corruption sprints, fallacy,is what we are holding on to, if the populace are not educated on the Perils of Democracy, the political parties, Parliament and all institutions, will continue to be talk shops, but then again, depending on who you should asked, Democracy can mean different things to different people, the World is our mirror, we should be looking at it very closely. I have always wondered, why a Babarian concept of governance, is our mantra for living civilly? in this so-called Democracy, the BIG DAWGS at any epoch, in any clime, will have their say, the Laws in reality was never enacted to work against them, with the exception of certain Scandinavian states, Democracy doesn’t exist. No original native of this American hemisphere, and that includes Africans and Indians, have benefitted from Democracy, they were never intended to be part of this Babarian science of Divide and Rule, today, we have adapted lock stock and barrel, instead of uniting and making the best of a bad situation, Hate and Divisiveness are the tools in our School and Work Bags. We are not caught in a trap of lowered expectation, Democracies elevation from its dawn was never meant for the poor man/woman, Justice for all was never part of this Crime riddled science. 2018, the Christian year of Democracies perpetration, need to be looked with the eye of a needle, the PERILS, will be very visible.
“When confidence is lost in our most fundamental institutions, then the fabric of our democracy is being undermined,” statement from NJAC as reported by Newsday.
One of the things that can easily be discerned is ‘bad leadership’. Yet, tyrants, authoritarians, dictators, oligarchs and charismatics continue to be elected and propagated into positions of power, without regard to the threats they might pose to constitutional rule. One of the problems facing democracy, is the lack of goodwill towards the populace as a whole and a fascination with conceding power and authority to the rich and elitist. For a democracy to function with propriety, it must be constantly put upon a scale of observance, to be viewed by non-participating functionalities, who do not fall prey to partisanship and elitist demands. Part of the failings of our democratic way of governance is also the lack of definitive descriptions of titles. Many ‘democratic’ leaders function outside the purview of their scope within the law.
Most justify, that they draw the authority from laws that did not address the actions they take as ‘within the law’. When allowed to govern without checks and balances, the only and most common result is corruption, divisiveness, cronyism, ethnic cleansing, partisanship and neglect of the poor and needy.
We inherited a kind of governance from our colonial masters that had within its tradition a monarchal subservience. This system automatically advance unchecked powers to the elitists among us, where no one can question their authority. This kind of governance has created governmental blunders of huge proportions, where the population suffers for the mistakes of a few. In recent memory scandals like The Piarco Airport construction; Section 34; the ill-advised state of emergency; road constructions; the shipping services between Trinidad and Tobago;
ill fated schemes as the Children’s Fund and other blunders that occur syphoning massive amount of government funds without accountability, that go unchallenged. Those incidents do not strengthen our democracy, they weaken it. The prosecutorial arms of government is poor and the judiciary is just as poor or worse. There is an uneasiness within that arm of law enforcement that is a major concern for how we conduct ourselves in providing ‘justice for all’. The Police, the Prosecutors, the Courts, the Prisons, the magistracy and the management of the judiciary al all POOR examples of how ‘justice’ is obtained.
The authors of the NJAC statement are to be reminded that they participated in a joint accord with six other participants to replace the maladministration of governance in Fyzabad. They, along with the Trade Unions and political entities when ascended into power only made things worse, not BETTER. So, who is to stay what quality of leadership we need to govern this country?.
After fifty-five years of independence we need to grown. It is time to stop going back to our benefactors asking them to guide us into maturity. We have to do that ourselves. When those who are charged with representing us behave like ‘little boys and little girls’ no value is added to our fragile existence. I would be amiss not to mention the fragility that exist between the African and Indian leadership of our country. There is an endless competition for power and TOO LITTLE attention being paid to the strength of our democracy.
When faced with the seriousness of the challenges facing our democracy, it is frivolous to use petty behavioral utterances as a reason for serious concern. Discipline is low and sometimes non-existent in our country and being mild-mannered may not be the best form of leadership needed to command respect. We need informed and committed leaders, whose only concern is the proper development of Trinidad and Tobago. Our problems with crime, poverty, living conditions, wage disputes, income disparity, judicial incompetence, educational backwardness, racism and other social ills has put us into a lethargic stage of compliance with laws. We need leadership to enlighten us, not tear us apart. We need leadership to strengthen our resolve in bridging the gap between the races. We need leadership that places the good of the country above all else. We need leadership that does NOT lead one towards water and the other towards scarcity. We need leadership that sees no color, race or religion as its mantra.
We need togetherness that places our country – Trinidad and Tobago FIRST. Whoever emerges to this requirement, should be allowed to take the mantle of leadership and unite us towards a better future.
Amazingly TNT racked up a murder record of 5 deaths in one day. The first day of the year, a day of new beginnings and boisterous celebrations. A day to applaud or new resolutions to lose weight, to honor our loved ones, to live like good citizens in the honorable republic. The blood splattered to remind us that evil exist amongst us.
The challenge of building a nation can be lost in one election. Those who are industrious and entrepreneurs are daily losing confidence in their ability to live on the right side of the law. In Gasparillo a small 24 hours grocery business was robbed a few times in December. The owner of the business is frustrated and scared at such a bold exercise of lawlessness that leaves him and his employees traumatized. He will be robbed again but can his spirit endure this level of shyte kicking. Or will he like many just decides that it is enough and close. During the Christmas season robberies increased in Port of Spain. DOMA asked for more police and army patrol. The 1% received a positive response and the bandits move to softer targets.
The two most powerful position in the nation is the office of the prime minister and the Chief Justice. With words like cyat, nipple, jammetry, shyte kicker, grooming being the new watch words of the nation instead of discipline, tolerance and production. Simply shows we have reached! The CJ appears to feel more comfortable in the air rather than on the ground. Spending millions of tax dollars to stay in high class hotels with his confidante. This whilst the justice system is near collapse.
The human spirit is the most indomitable force for societal change. However, over time inquity can dull its responses. An inquitous society filled with vulgarity from the exhalted PM and CJ offices does not bode well for the future!
PM & CJ are terrible examples of As Above So Below! The 3 responses so far are brilliant, informative and gives a lot to think about. Citizens please use the VOTING power to change things peacefully. Anytime you vote, remember what type of individual you want to lead. They’ll be your creation.
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