Descent into animalism

By Raffique Shah
December 21, 2008

Trini PeopleIt has been that kind of year. It was unpredictable at the beginning, became tumultuous as it regressed (well, I can’t quite say “progressed”), and as it comes to an end it leaves one wondering: would I live to see anything like this again? If you are a humanist, a caring person, you also wonder if your children or grandchildren would experience anything worse than you have in 2008.

It’s not that people of this country have been dragged through the bottom of the economic pit, that the global financial and economic crises have impacted so badly on us. On the contrary, the vast majority of us would have done well on a comparative scale. Most of us had jobs that remain secure: knock wood you never know what the ‘morrow would bring.

When you read of millions of people in wealthy countries losing their jobs, their homes, their will to live, you would count us among the luckier in the world. True, day-to-day survival for many has been a harrowing experience, what with inflation slapping you in the face every time you dared enter a supermarket, or hell, even a parlour or wayside vendor’s stall.

Still, even the poorest among us at least had some morsels to keep those hunger pangs at bay. Not so for millions in countries as diverse as the Sudan and Congo, the permanent pavement dwellers of Mumbai or most cities in “prosperous” India, or those forever condemned to eking out an existence in rural Russia or China. No, things never got that bad for us. If anything, our burgeoning consumerism a-la-Americans-buying brands, the over-eating, the “bling”-would have taken a hit. Good thing, too, I say. From the standpoint of our standard of living, of having small-but-secure incomes, we didn’t do too badly.

Our problems, in my view, were worse. We have long ceased caring for each other in good times, or bad. I hate harking back to the “good old days”, which many may question just how good they were. But 30, 40 years ago, people looked out for each other.

Villages and communities brought up children. Those who veered from the straight path found no refuge, not in their own homes, not in their neighbourhoods. The old and the infirm could look forward to help from family and friends. And that was not a Christmas thing. It was a humaneness that was a Trini trademark.

Sadly, we have lost that. We have, most of us, descended into a kind of subterranean inhumanity. Like sewer rats, we claw at each other from sun-up the darkest hours. Really, if you question what I say, watch you neighbour, or even watch yourself in the mirror. One should wake up with a smile, basking in the bliss of having lived to see another day, looking forward to whatever comes your way. Sure, it may be a rough one ahead-at work, in business or in the fields. But you treasure the moment. Instead, what do we find? In one’s own home, people hardly mumble greetings to each other. Faces are “screwed up” as if people are preparing to go to war, not to work or school or recreation.

The attitude spills over to the roads and highways, clogged as they are with that universal symbol of “progress”, motor vehicles. Traffic, bumper to bumper. People stressed out before they get to their jobs. Then the sewer rats start their cannibalistic forays. Man (and woman!) speeding on the shoulders of highways. On main roads, hasty motorists overtaking lines of traffic-only to cut in front of you, you who have patiently stayed in line. You look at him (or her) as if to protest, only to be verbally abused in the worst manner.

The country chugs along, day after day, unmindful of the fact that in a relative way, we are blessed, as my religious brethren would say. Is it any wonder the young and mindless turn to lives of crime? If we adults could behave like beasts-from-below, what do we expect from the young? We nurture them on materialism and animalism, so primitivism becomes their way of life.

Why, therefore, are we surprised that more than 500 mostly young people have been murdered this year? Or that thousands have been robbed or otherwise violated. Women are raped, but they do not even make reports to the police, since they know justice and Jah’s face they will never see.

The tragedy of our society is not that there is poverty in the midst of plenty, that we lack basic amenities, that our leaders are not worthy of respect they demand. Our failing is in the values we have lost. Life is worth nothing today. Nowadays parents and community leaders encourage the young to murder, to rape, to kidnap and abuse others. If I were religious, I’d swear that Satan has taken control of my country. But I am not.

What I do know is there are more beasts in human form among us than we care to admit. And if we look into the mirror, we may well see sewer rats snarling at us. Check yourself before you point fingers at others.

20 thoughts on “Descent into animalism”

  1. The world is terrible, poverty and crimes has gorn haywire, and perhaps with little hope we should all tie our hands behind our backs and jump into the Caroni or Caura river.
    I hope no one under 70 reads this pesimistic article in my country or any nation of the Global South as we all cannot run to the author’s much beloved -one race -socialist Scandinavian countries to live.
    Perhaps we can expect some one to project some non simplistic solutions to the problems that did not occur by majic overnight.

  2. Anyone seeing the pain in the beautiful face of nine year old Celine Bonaparte in today’s Newsday would agree that we have descended into animalism. Her brother was murdered in the family home in Point Fortin during some sort of celebration,when gunmen invaded.This little girl’s painful,grief-stricken appearance is a symbol of the suffering of an entire nation.
    When would the PM and his entire Cabinet stand up and aggressively speak out against this crime wave which is engulfing this nation?We know that they are struggling with policies to solve the situation, but it’s time for a chorus of loud condemnation against this ” descent into animalism”.

  3. If a PM or leader “speaking out” as you put it, would have solved the problems of crimes, or even positively affect the conduct of those engaged in criminality, we would live in a perfectly crime free world. I surmise that when you guys use the term “speak out”, you want him and the cabinet to vicariously satisfy your craving for crime in Trinidad to be given an ethnic face. These subtle implications abound in the commentary of some in this blog. They seem to be seeking some justification or excuse that would allow them to vent innately acquired antipathy for certain segments of the population of Trinidad and Tobago.

    I do believe that that Manning can do a lot more in trying to curb crime by putting together a task force fro0m a cross section of the society to brainstorm strategies outside of the straight jacket British inherited law enforcement system. And I am certainly not referring to extra judicial lynchings of suspects which seem to be the preferred solution for many who loiter around here. The fact is that law enforcement strategies have to be tailored to fit the environment and culture of the areas of operations. The British system fits nicely into the culture for which it was designed. Trinidad and Tobago, in its quest to achieve developed country status need to fashion a strategy that is home grown and productive.

  4. Mr Ruel Daniels wrote:

    “If a PM or leader “speaking out” as you put it, would have solved the problems of crimes, or even positively affect the conduct of those engaged in criminality, we would live in a perfectly crime free world. I surmise that when you guys use the term “speak out”, you want him and the cabinet to vicariously satisfy your craving for crime in Trinidad to be given an ethnic face”.

    I am sure that no logical thinking person believes that crime should be given an “ethnic face”. Crime in T&T has crossed all ethnic barriers..members of every race are involved in a variety of criminal activities.What is particularly alarming though is the disproportinate number of young gang members who are being gunned down.
    What is even more alarming is the deafening silence of the PM and his Cabinet.An address to the Nation expressing zero tolerance and disgust for the blatent, violent crimes being committed, along with an action plan would have a profound psychological effect and would probably provide some measure of comfort. The problem is that the PM is caught between a rock and a hard place.After secret meetings with criminal gang leaders and promises of State support through make work programmes in exchange for PNM party support, he finds himself in a weakened position. A breakdown of the number of murders in T&T clearly shows that the primary cause is criminal gang activity. The Police know, the PM knows and the Judicial syatem have repeatedly made the accusation. The situation seems hopeless as we slide into chaos.

  5. When we have a call for an independent Commission of enquiry by the the last two PM in this country, that obviously benefited from the events of Backer and his Muslim thugs in 1990 , then we will look forward to hearing about outrage by today’s so call etchnic thugs.

  6. How is it that there are so many guns and not enough positive opportunity? Yes it is the perpetrators and not just the weapons, but it seems like the only opportunity for disenfranchised Trini’s is crime. Perhaps the government officials should review their budgets and stop mismanaging the country. What do I know?

  7. I am a Trini, who has lived in the UNITED STATES for more than forty years. As so many others I am also stunned at the level of crime and decadence we have decended to. However this is endemic of the entire world, We can look at the genocide in Sudan, and Rwanda, the collapse of democracy and order in Zimbabwe, as well as other troubled areas around the globe, and wonder aloud where is this all leading, After having lived through the turmoil of the sixties and the drug epidemic of the seventies and eighties, I can believe we will ride out this present trend, but the cost to society is enormous. In this tiny country we all drink the same kool aid, but expect different results.

    I continue to follow events in Trinidad and the rest of the Caribbean very closely,and I have concluded that what is occuring in Trinidad runs parallel to similar events in other westernized countries. Is it any wonder that
    islamic fundamentalism rejects the western model of “freedom” and democracy, due to a decline in social values.
    We have lost the emphasis on the family as the focal point of stability in the community. Our citizens must be willing to get involve in policing their communities and
    setting curfews for their children. They must monitor their fashion choices and behavior; as well as exercising greater control over the television programming.

    We can retake our communites and our cities, but we first need to recognize that we are all in this together and will
    not progress if we continue to play the class wars, which are at the very core of our troubles, we must also realize that our country is too small for the level of separatism
    that separates ethic group from ethic group. Our country continues to live in a state of delusion. We pretend that we do not have race and class and color distinctions, when we all know we do. This continues to be at the core of our troubles.
    The rise of the nouveau rich has exacebated these cultural wars. If we have reached the fork in the road, then it is good that we can reflect on how far we have come as a nation, and seize the opportunity to advance our society as one people. We also have to realize that the face of Trinidad is changing. At the present rate we are seeing the disappearance of our numbers due to crime, HIV. migration and intermarriage with other nationalities.
    We need to call on our government leaders, our educational institutions and our local communities at every leader to respond to a clarion call for dialogue across the board to address these urgent problems now if not sooner.

  8. There are crimes in many nations around the world, including those with no significant black populations. History is a real bitch sometimes. The migration of italians, the Irish, and now the Russians into the US were all inciented by organized criime activities by members of those communities. Today much of this still obtains in some of them. The difference is that when an italian, or a Russian commits a crime the blame for that crime is not extrapolated across that population group.

    In Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, there is something of a symmetry in terms of the reaction of some mebers of those societies to crime. If you read the blogs and forums populated by people from those two countries the ignorantly conceived sterotyped reaction and expressions about crime is similar. In fact you would be hard presed to tell whether it was a Guyanese or a Trini talking when they begin spewing and ranting that “all dem blackman does tief”. In Guyana in particular where thieving has become the established modus operandi from top to bottom of of all Governmental entities, and drug barons daily emerge as so called business people aligned with the ruling party,it is clear that the outpourings come from the most cockeyed of reasoning and rationales possibly. You do not have to go back far in here to sight replicas of that ignorance.

    Crime cannot win dominance in a society that comes together to fight it. It wins when one or more sides seek to excite and sustain assinine prejudices that make them feel good, and perpetrate the myth that they are better because of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair. Crime wins the Nelson eye is given to criminal expressions that emanates from one side, while beating on the chest and wailing like deceiful ninnies accompanies its expression from another side.

  9. Excellent Piece Ms.Dasent! Very well put. You have addressed every nook and cranny that needs looking at. If only we had leaders with the same vision and tact. However, I would like to tweak you comments toward “crime across the world,” naming countries such as Zimbabwe, Rawanda etc. While these countries have alot to kill for Eg. Food, water and just the basic necessities of life, Trinbagonians have neither the former or latter to kill for. Employment is in abundance but those that choose crime to sustain themselves do so out of laziness and some because they are just born criminals. However, the tenor of your piece nails the general needs of our nation and hopefully one day someone, somewhere, somehow in the country will juxter you and with that comes a ray of hope.

  10. Ruel Daniels wrote:
    “Crime cannot win dominance in a society that comes together to fight it. It wins when one or more sides seek to excite and sustain assinine prejudices that make them feel good, and perpetrate the myth that they are better because of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair”

    This statement is totally absurd.I do not believe that criminals are committing crimes because “one or more sides seek to excite and sustain prejudices”. Inferiority complexes do not lead to criminal activity but psychological problems.Black youth are not out committing crimes because they are hated by people with better textured hair!

  11. Very astute observation mr damiel on the common trend on behaviora in Guyana and trinidad in terms of the business community.this sleezy fraternity often engages in unwholesome and in most cases illigal activities in the historical quest for a dollar .now mind you it is their and others right to encourourage the full enforcement of laws geared to keeping blue color violent criminal at bay.for example if you are dumb enough to rob a hardworking cedros woman of 10$ tt with the full knowledge that you would get 15 years hard labor because you do not have a deed for 100 acres of land or $400,000 in loose cash under the bed that can be given to top notched loud mouth human rights lawyers.again shame on you for vein born ok the wrong side of the economic slot.I agree with one of the writers here -the size of one nose,texture of hair,or size of butts is of little consequences.let us please pay some attention to white color criminals as well as it sends a fine message.

  12. Better textured hair? I think I know what your point is, but in reality hair is just hair. There are different textures, but one is no better than the other just like the people who grow the hair.
    There is no excuse for such a small country to have such a high murder rate. Parents have to teach their children that if they don’t hear they will feel. Government need to do the same with criminals and the people should reciprocate that action toward corrupt government officials.

  13. Interesting stimulation and very emotional discussion, which shows that many people do care about the future of their chosen country. Unfortunately, neither the Government, nor the Police nor even concerned religious leaders will be able, on the surface, to do anything about it. This situation is much, much bigger than just gang related or domestic or dengue or accidents. Forget about the death through violence, for one moment, and focus your attention on the amount of people who are dying, will observe that there is an escalation of souls that are leaving the planet. This situation is much bigger than you think, and if you think 2008 is bad, wait till 2009, the number of souls leaving in a hurry, may very well increase across the board. Now that I think that I have your attention, here’s the deal. The energies of the earth is increasing exponentially, as the earth ascends out of this third density duality, towards fourth and fifth density oneness or continuum. As she approaches fifth density her energies becomes lighter and lighter, consistent with fifth density existence. Therefore all inhabitants of earth will, as a matter of universal law, have to transformed all of their negative energies to light energy, to be part of the ascension process. All entities, who are unable to detach, and rid themselves of all the negative karmic baggage of hate and prejudice and bigotry, greed and violence etc.. will have to take their exit from the earth plane, it does not matter what form the exit takes, since the manner of exit is purely part of the individual soul contract with the divine. There is still time, although very short, for individuals wishing to ascend with the earth to do some letting go, some spring cleaning of sorts, and lightening up literally, since no old baggage will be permitted on this trip.
    Look at the movement of the planetary bodies, the sun, the moon and the constellations, and you will see drastic changes. Then ask yourselves, what is going on?, and await the answer. You may be surprise, that some of the things that you always believe to be true were lies, and some you thought were lies are unadulterated truth. Do some research, think for yourselves, and for heavens sake, love one another like you never did before. You have no idea, how short the time is for you, or for them.

  14. I am glad that you could decipher the real point I was attempting to make about the hair. I like your profound faith in the abilities of parents and government. Tell me something ,who should teach at risk children that are without parents , or with parents that are practically kids themselves?
    Getting the type of accountable government and civically responsive citizens you’ve mentioned is an ideal we should all strive for.

  15. There will always be…… etc. However, we must start somewhere. Sometimes it takes a community. If members of a community don’t want to be involved in the positive productivity of a community as the community sees it, then they must be erradicated if they are a ,”plague” to that community by the community. That doesn’t translate into death of a rebel, but the community must survive. A ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Young people must learn that before they become involved in relationships that could lead to unwanted childbirths. If and when it does happen, the community should rally behind the young parent because it is the right thing to do for her young child. However, that parent has to take full responsibility and automatically childish and self serving behaviors behind. Neither of wich are happening at present. Kids aren’t raising babies, but rather training social terrorist. The only way to combat that is through community envolvement and let the offenders know that your not just doing this to be better individuals, but a better society.
    Perhaps the money can come from the government once all of the misleading spending is accounted for. Trim the fat. Community participation should be a givven because it is members of the community that have to suffer day in and day out. The elite seperate themselves from the rest of the country pandering to diplomats, foreign dignitaries, and practicing vulgar skills for America and England in particular.
    We have seen the outcome of that. There is no excuse for this way of life in a country with so so much potential. The greatest resource is the people, and we are either dying, or fleeing.

    Bob Marley had a song about standing up for your rights. I say there is no greater right to be a citizen of paradise being able to live a coveted life without heightened worry of personal well being criminally, socially, economically, etc… It’s obvious that,” they don’t really care about us” not to make a habit of quoting music artist. The actions of the government say it all. Where and what do you stand for? Someone use to say freedom is a happy slave. I think I understand now. “I see, I see!”, said the blind man. I appologize if I have dramatized the real Trinidad and Tobago.

  16. Hello Everybody,
    This exchange of ideas is truly interesting, and kudos to
    Raffique for leading the way on this one. In response to Dasy 100, thanks so much for your valuable input and for
    clarifying the reasons that crime has become so prevalent
    in T and T. You make a powerful argument for the reasons why crimes are committed in Trinidad and they are quite
    valid. The issue is deeper, the lack of values, as Raffique said so eloquently; thirty, forty years ago we had them.
    communities looked out for each other, it was a disgrace to be pregnant for many young women without marriage. To be accused of a crime was the ultimate shame. Our society is so heavily influenced by the Hollywood factor,that this shame and disgrace has been vanquished by a street wise bravado. We have dumbed down as a society. For our children, reading and writing is not as cherished as a new pair of sneakers and the latest fashion icons, the cell phone, the ipods, etc. I do believe the reasons for much of the genocide in Rwanda, Sudan is ethnic driven. I recently read a piece in AFRICA TODAY regarding the decision by the British government back in the late fifties to grant Nigeria Independence and its decision to award control of the country to a minority tribe against the wishes of the majority, this set in motion the wars that were ultimately fought. We cannot always attribute the ensuring wars in Africa to the struggle for food, water and control of resources, it eventually comes down to this. but at the end of the day it is more of a class and race war in many parts of Africa, the struggles that set off the whole chain reaction is primarily tribal.Please correct me if I am wrong on this one.

  17. What does Rwanda, Sudan, and the African contninent have to do with Trinidad and Tobago? If I were to subscribe to the Hollywood thing as a contributing factor, wouldn’t it be in the governments best interest to regulate media distribution within T-N-T? That shouldn’t be too difficult considering that Trinidad and Tobago is it’s own independent nation right? Last I check you can’t fly from T-N-T without a passport. Perhaps parents being parents is a key solution? P. Dasent I respect your point of veiw even though I disagree. However, as just another person with a opinion I haven’t the authority nor the audacity to correct anyone in this forum. I’m pleased with the dialogue on a subject that has great value to us all.

  18. Those tribes in those continents are still referred to as “savages” because of their way of life and their drive to survive. They commit every act known to man all in their quest to survive. Tell me Curtis, how does Trinidad and Tobago differ from them now? Trinidad is now over-populated with a bunch of crminals that operate without impunity all in the name of GREED! We have food, water, electricity, gas and the list goes on that allows some to live like kings and queens and princes’ and princesses yet murder and mayhem engulfs our beloved country. Ms.Dasent is correct in her analogy, like it or not.

    I grew up in those times that Ms.Dasent reffers to! when it was a community that raised a child and just to have a finger pointed at you accusingly for wrong doing was enough to get some lix and not just from parents but from the neighbour and then the parents come after. Now we have parents who know that they raised a killer but will bail him out of jail knowing he will kill again. Yes, parents does bare some responsibility.
    People are no longer safe in thier homes regardless of burgular proffing or bad dogs. All this said, the down fal of our nation falls on the head of our leaders who refuse to take action needed. The prefer to work on their legacy and comfort that the same nationals provide for them. Our babies dying by the dozen and all we get are excuses, yet the leaders fly out in style to get the very best; at the taxpayers expense!

    According to Joe Biden of the US, a test is coming soon and if people think that Abu Bakkar was bad, they are blind. I can predict things will get worse before it gets better and what the government leaders take for granted will beg to have later on. People of Trinidad and Tobago are fed=up with living in constant fear because of the tribal wars and the innocent paying the ultimate price. The old saying “live by the sword.”

  19. TMan
    This statement is totally absurd.I do not believe that criminals are committing crimes because “one or more sides seek to excite and sustain prejudices”.

    My Previous Post
    “Crime cannot win dominance in a society that comes together to fight it. It wins when one or more sides seek to excite and sustain assinine prejudices that make them feel good, and perpetrate the myth that they are better because of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair”

    TMan I challenge you to point to any portion of this statement that suggests a motive for criminality. Because that is what that assinine piece you wrote infers. It is no wonder T&T cannot mount an effective strategy to deal with crime. When half or more of the blinking society is so damn dishonest that they fabricate points to launch their arguments rather than reading and unbderstanding the context of what they read, how the hell can consensus be reached.

    It is your inferrence that is absurd. Does a statement that “crime cannot win in a society because of some inadequacy in the measures designed to fight it” means that “Criminals are committing crimes because of absence of those measures”. Absolutely not. This is not about the motive behind crime. It was a post on the ineffectiveness of dealing with crime. What dyslexic prism did you use to draw that ridiculous conclusion from my post? That is downright idiocrasy.

    It is these kinds ridiculous and assinine reactions that limit mine and many others participation in this forum. Because if a simple construction like that flies over your head how the hell can anyone communicate with you. You must be on some analogous Tower of Babel to make these kinds of dyslexic interpretation of someone’s post.

  20. Trinidad and Tobago is a Westernized Nation closer to the U.S. in over all lifestyle than Rwanda. However that is part of the problem. I agree that the government isn’t doing their job. We all know that the officials are looking for the new edition of their current two hundred plus luxury vehicles.

    Joe Biden was talking about Trinidad and Tobago? I thought he was referring to president elect of the U.S… People should stop using the U.S. as a blueprint to humanity, capitalism, etc…. If imperfect nations model themselves after imperfect nations, then they will continue to be imperfect.

    It is said that the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. With that being said, it seems clear that yesterday the parents didn’t have a good enough system for developing children to become leaders for the people.

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