By Raffique Shah
March 17, 2013
We blame the young, easy targets, never admitting that they are misfits moulded in our own image and likeness, created by elders who are anything but exemplars. We blame foreign influences, television, alien music and art forms. We blame any and everything but ourselves. We never look into the mirror.
Because if we did, we’d see leaders who lie without compunction, miscreants masquerading as ministers, or maybe the other way round; whatever, we are looking at a society hurtling towards implosion, to coming apart at the seams … and we just sit idly and scratch. Indeed, many among us applaud the high and mighty as they defecate on the masses. With a lisp, they collectively chorus, “Sit on we, borse!”
David Rudder summed up this aspect of our society in his 1998 song “Savagery”: “Welcome, welcome, step right up/To the place where the gobar flows nonstop/Matter of fact the bull just purge/Soft and warm, everybody could splurge….”
Allow me to paint a picture of the decay that has set in, of just how deep the rut runs. Tomorrow, thousands of citizens will assemble at the National Stadium for the installation of Anthony Carmona as the fifth President of the Republic. People are pinning hopes on Carmona much the way they did with Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her People’s Partnership team in May 2010. They have since lost faith in the PP, so they are turning to the new face of power.
But will President Carmona have the fortitude to deliver a battered and beleaguered populace from the dark forces that stalk the land? Will he step out of the constitutional crease that restrains the President and call a spade a spade, a jack a jack? Or will he take cover behind the trappings of office and pretend he just does not see or hear?
Because among those hogging the limelight tomorrow, and no doubt hugging Carmona, will be National Security Minister Jack Warner. He will play himself, others will play with him, and everybody will splurge. There’s a stench in the stateroom, but those on high will hold their noses and pretend not to smell it.
In other words, no one has the fortitude to tell Warner that he smells awful. Here’s a man who routinely violates all the norms of decency, who could be accused of abusing his privileges as a Member of Parliament and minister, yet no one holds him to account.
Most recently, in the House of Representatives, he severely slandered several persons, among them Senior Counsel Vernon De Lima. In fact, it was worse than slander. He accused de Lima and others of conspiracy, maybe treason, without adducing a shred of evidence.
You would think that Speaker Wade Mark would uphold the integrity of Parliament by asking Warner to produce evidence to support such a serious charge, or desist. No such luck. Mark said nothing. Maybe he would entertain De Lima’s denial, which would mean that Warner’s spurious accusations would remain in Hansard for posterity.
As if to compound the reckless abuse, the Prime Minister, commenting on the issue, would only speak of a retraction—which is hardly likely to come from Warner’s mouth.
Warner’s disregard for convention and disrespect for others have been the subject of media scrutiny and commentary, but that’s the extent of censure against him. He makes it clear that he will not be disciplined or reined in by anyone—not the PM, not his Cabinet colleagues, no one.
Now, juxtapose this wrong-and-strong attitude with what obtains at the level of criminal gangs and you would see the similarities. Gangsters demand respect from others or else they would kill you. They see themselves as being above the laws of their jungle. In fact, they make the laws, exact justice and impose punishment. Very much like Warner, they are a law unto themselves.
Such behaviour pervades the society, accounting for rampant delinquency and lawlessness. Many children disrespect their parents, their teachers and elders. They would cuss you, beat you or worse if you dare talk to them about their conduct: they will not be disciplined by anyone. Sounds familiar? Sure does!
Few motorists heed traffic regulations that govern speed, cellphone use, drunk driving and so on. Fewer citizens pay attention to simple things like littering, noise pollution and similar irritants that drive their neighbours or communities crazy. People simply have no regard for other human beings.
I am not blaming Warner for all the ills that bedevil this country, as much as I am tempted to do. But his crassness, his absolute disrespect for other people is symptomatic of what is really wrong with this society. He equates power with being right and big men and women with rank and holding high office not only condone the crap he deposits daily, but also massage his ego at every turn.
I shall not waste time by calling for his resignation or for the Prime Minister to fire him. Such decorum is alien to people who are drunk on the wine of power. In their stupor, they do not see the human debris that previous regimes have left behind, pitiful excuses for human beings that once believed they were gods. Yes, the mighty inevitably fall—such is history.
Still, I cannot help but search for that man among men who has the backbone to stand up for what is right, who would speak out and say enough is enough. It pains when instead I behold a sea of sycophants prostrating themselves at the altar of expediency. What a country.