By Raffique Shah
January 27, 2016
I was not saddened or consumed with anger. I was not even outraged over the manner in which the youthful victims were grabbed from their ride home, much the way Hitler’s Nazis separated Jews from Gentiles, or how Israelis now separate Palestinians from Jews, marking them for death, executing them right there in public.
Almost in horror, I realised that maybe I was losing my humanity, which is a frightening prospect for any human being.
The sheer savagery of criminal acts that have engulfed the nation over the past three decades or so, psychologically strangling us like a debilitating disease that grows progressively worse as it numbs our senses, has reduced me, and, I’m sure, many others, to borderline sub-humans.
When man no longer feels deeply the atrocities meted out to his fellow human beings, be it in his backyard or ten thousand miles away, when he finds himself losing compassion for others, he must question his existence.
This is the crossroads to which crime in my country has brought me.
When good men (and women) feel nothing and do nothing about the mindless murders that have numbed their minds to what can be described only as savagery, when crimes are reduced to statistics, then we might as well abandon all hope for salvaging the society.
Last week Sunday, in this space, I sought to rally my countrymen to wage war in the face of an onslaught on the economy, a war that I think we can win.
But what are our chances of winning the war against crime?
We have descended into a hellhole in which guns have proliferated, with seemingly every second person owning a “piece” or two, with unlimited supplies of ammunition, and confident that they can kill anyone without being arrested, charged, convicted or penalised.
Governments come, governments go, ministers with the responsibility for national security play musical chairs by the month, ace police crime fighters emerge and fade, billions of dollars are expended in the process, all for nought.
The Police Service has been expanded, furnished with impressive combat outfits and awesome arms. The military has been co-opted to add muscle. We are told that hundreds of CCTV cameras monitor our every move. There is a well-equipped operations centre and every manner of intelligence agency-SB, SSA, SIA, maybe even CIA.
Yet, we are no closer to curbing crime today than we were ten, twenty years ago.
Ten years ago, in July 2006, I wrote, “…It’s a chilling state of affairs, and nothing National Security Minister Martin Joseph says to us about his latest crime plans can soothe pains of countless victims of crime who will never get justice…Not when hitherto relatively safe-areas are subjected to daily raids by marauding bandits…Foreign governments update their ‘travel advisories’ on T&T, making us look like Bosnia of yesterday, or today’s Gaza, a virtual war zone overtaken by criminals…”
Then in July 2011, shortly before the PP Government imposed a state of emergency in a frantic bid to rein in runaway crime, I wrote, “Let’s be realistic about where we are in this crime-ridden country…The forces of law and order cannot conceivably cover all the killing fields at the same time…Indeed, even if they rotate their crime clampdowns, they face mission impossible…
“Criminal gangs have sprung up in just about every community…gunmen parade openly with their ‘hardware’… in some crime-nests these guys conduct ‘range practice’ in broad daylight…
“…What we are dealing with is a hydra-headed monster…the only way to kill it is to sever its many heads-simultaneously, if that is possible…”
Desperation, exasperation, frustration as the monster kept growing to the point where, today, it has “turned beast” on the very people who helped create it.
Let us not mince words or matters: every murderer is born of a mother if not a father-the latter having planted a seed and moved on.
And while it is true that parents “make the child, not its mind”, it is also true that all parents, in some measure, mould their children’s minds, instil in them values, be they negative or positive, and most of all, see and know if or when they are going astray, if they are becoming menaces to society.
A parent, a family, a community, has a responsibility to deliver the wider society from the evil she or they may have helped create.
I leave it to their consciences to determine how they can restore peace to crime-ridden districts like Laventille, allow their own neighbours to enjoy the peace and normality they deserve.
And help me regain my humanity.