By Raffique Shah
June 13, 2022
Being both a product and an architect of the age of love, peace and happiness, and belonging to a generation that opposed war and promoted peace, that even as I became a soldier, a highly-trained killer—we actively and successfully hounded America out of Vietnam and Cambodia, transformed colonised Africa into a battleground for liberation, and we set the world in motion such that generations marched together in countries across the world chanting, “All we are saying, is give peace a chance…’
The irony was that the peace movement was most alive at a time when there were scores of wars under way in so many theatres, we had choices, shifting focus by the day, literally. The common factor we identified among those who opposed us, who preferred war to peace, was that they were ugly in every possible way, but none more so than the hatred that consumed their entire beings. Their eyes were…well, satanic. They almost breathed fire. I used to wonder if they knew the word “love”, if they ever experienced that warmth that accompanied it. And the hate for all who disagreed with them was not merely palpable, but toxic. One got the impression that if they caught the peace-lovers in a suitable kill-zone, they’d mow us down with their guns as if we were pests that must be exterminated.
I want to focus on the words “hate” and “hatred” in my column today. Ah hate Keith Rowley… ah wish he could just drop down dead. Or, conversely, Ah hate Kamla… dat woman is pure poison. I am told by friends that if you peruse social media or walk through certain towns and villages, mix with the crowds, you’d think that all people do in their lives, I suppose, is harbour bitter hatred for the politicians whom they do not support.
In normal conversations some might quip: Ah hate bodi but ah love seim. Surely, that is hyperbole, much like saying “ah million people turn up looking for wuk on cruise ships last week”. But when they express deep feelings that fit the classic definition of “hate” and “hatred”, I feel compelled not just to note it, but to put it in the public domain for discussion.
It’s important to understand what citizens wish to convey by “hate”. Is it mere hyperbole that we use millions of times a day (there I go!), or are they ventilating real hate? The classic dictionary definition of “hatred” is “intense dislike for someone or something”. It is the opposite of “love”.
I recall when my two children attained what I thought was their age to reason around ten, I sat them down and we discussed “hate”. Like most people, they would often blurt out: Ah hate he! Or: Ah hate dem! I explained that if I hated someone, that feeling must be so compelling that I would harm the target if I knew I could get away with it. Does anyone you hate fall in that category? No, they confessed. Well, you don’t hate him or her: you merely dislike them. That’s easier to live with.
But there is some real hate going around in this country that bothers me because of who proclaims it, who expresses it on the information speedway, and what they hope to achieve from it.
The standoff between the “haters” and those who were blessed with an abundance of love lasted for most of my lifetime. In time, I and others who have done all we could to make the world a better place had lives to live, families to care for, communities to build. Interestingly, old memories of that phase of my journey through life stirred when I saw eruptions at schools here in Trinidad and Tobago, elsewhere in the Caribbean and, most notoriously, on school compounds in the US.
The current principal players have Hate writ large on their bodies, from Texas to Williamsville, and I thought here we go, round and round, in an ever-expanding circle of sub-humans, born to seemingly ordinary people who are themselves poster-parents for everything that is wrong with our schools, our communities and our countries. Children making children, without a thought as to how they would nurture them, educate them, make them upstanding citizens so they in turn can uplift the society in which they live.
Many from our generation and those we spawned have uplifted not just themselves but the country by producing some of the finest minds ever to be born here. Maybe I’ll get around to writing about some such achievers soon.
Overall, though, the thousands who live by the gun and often die by it are far too many. Blame them for the tragic state of the country. Blame the “haters”, their criminal offspring, not the society, not the system, for the impunity with which criminals operate in this country.