Never lose human compassion

By Raffique Shah
September 28, 2016

Raffique ShahYou think we have problems in this country?

With days to go before Finance Minister Colm Imbert delivers the Government’s 2017 budget, Trinis by the thousand sit in bars across the country sipping beers or whisky, and amidst the din that is common to such establishments, shout to be heard: “Breds, we better drink up, yes…from Friday, we may not be able to afford Johnny Walker Blue!” Big problem, that.

Much like the chatter in supermarket lanes as women, under strain, pushing their trolleys loaded with the finest foreign foods, murmur: “Chile, we better buy that ham and smoked salmon today…who knows what the price will be from Friday?”

Will we have sufficient money to “top up” our mobile phones, pay for cable television—a priority over water bills because WASA never disconnects anyone—or host a grand party for some birthday or anniversary?

See the sacrifices we must make?

Okay, I plead guilty to trivialising some serious issues we face—the state of the economy, shortages of foods and medications, the near-collapse of institutions that are critical to us enjoying life in a civilised society, and so on.

But by comparison with many other countries, from the highly developed to failed states, really, we should count ourselves lucky. Yes, life in Trinidad and Tobago is tough, but it could have been worse. As the late great Lord Pretender sang decades ago, “Always remember it have somebody suffering more than you.”

Last weekend, BBC television repeatedly reported on Russian forces’ nightly bombing of the northern city of Aleppo in Syria. Images of entire blocks of what must have been residential districts, now reduced to rubble, filled the screen. Scores, maybe hundreds of persons are presumed dead. The living walk around like zombies. And the children…well, you have to be sub-human to not shed a tear for them.

The reporter said that this particular attack disrupted water supplies to the city’s two million residents. I was surprised to learn that they still enjoyed potable water or that so many people continued to live in that hell-hole.

Since 2011, when America declared open season on Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad, inviting anyone who was so inclined to help overthrow the ruler, it is estimated that the country’s population of 20 million has been decimated by ten per cent, mostly ordinary people killed in a war that is hardly civil, or those who fled to join the ranks of refugees seeking entry into Europe and anywhere else in the world that would accept them.

As we know, it was also that open invitation to overthrow Assad that spawned the newest, ugliest face of global terrorism, the Islamic State or ISIS. Today, ISIS has turned with a vengeance upon its facilitators—if not creators—inflicting unspeakable terror on countries like France, and much the way the innocent pay for the guilty in war, inflicting harm on innocent people elsewhere in Europe and the world.

Russia joined the “bombing spree” in Syria recently as Assad’s only active ally. The US, Britain, France and Turkey have used Syrian territory for target practice since 2011.

If any entity has benefitted from this free-for-all war, it is ISIS.

And those who have suffered most are ordinary Syrians, especially women and children, pulverised from the air by bomber-aircraft owned and operated by Assad and the most powerful nations on earth, robbed, raped and slaughtered on the ground by Assad’s forces and ISIS madmen.

The BBC also did a feature in Yemen where a little-publicised but no less brutal war has resulted in wanton destruction of lives, property and infrastructure, no medical supplies to treat the infirm and the wounded, and near-famine conditions among the hapless population.

In this instance, Saudi Arabia, which has the third biggest military budget in the world (after the US and China), leads a coalition comprising the Gulf states, Egypt, Morocco and poverty-stricken Sudan, that pulverises poverty-stricken Yemen. The coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels who have the support of Iran, although Iran, wisely, has no air support or ground troops involved. Not surprisingly, the Saudis have the support of the US, which has deployed a number of “advisers” who help that coalition with the sophisticated weaponry the Saudis have purchased from—who else?—America.

That the Saudis seem to be losing that war in spite of full control of the skies and vastly superior weapons on the ground, is not my focus.

My heart reaches out to those starving, suffering people I saw on television, especially the children who are dying from hunger, disease and death-from-the-skies inflicted by the holy men from Mecca.

Whatever our woes, they pale by comparison with the suffering I referenced here. We must never lose our compassion for fellow human beings, especially children. That is what distinguishes us from lesser mortals.

9 Responses to “Never lose human compassion”


  • Shah as having a Muslim grandfather Sheik Hussain a Shiite was hunted and punished all his life by the Abu Barker sunni clan. . RE THE COUNTRY OF MY BIRTH _ TRINIDAD. I went back to Trinidad in 1977 on the invitation by Hon Eric Williams to get Point Lisas going – it started with ISCOTT; we were to bring T&T into the world arena then with our industrial developments. Most of us who studied engineering in a foreign country as UWI was maxed out by PNMites came home really motivated in the 70s. I saw Williams dream die in 1981, as non engineering persons – businessmen (MAX Richards watched and did nothing) took over Point Lisas and ran it to the ground. Mittal made his billions and walked leaving many penniless. I saw NGC and Petrotrin manhandled by nepotism and personal agendas. I spent 30 years in Trinidad and my efforts to improve our industry were railroaded by foreigners who turned Trinidad into a greed frenzy, experimentation exercise base and killing fields to our people and the laws of the land was powerless and brainless to step in (investigations of fatal accidents were made and closed behind certain company doors). The IRA and NIB are a complete waste of time. People died ruthlessly and the media did nothing. I was declared 60% PPD by the high court in 2006 and struggle to survive today and never received an iota of injury benefits by NIS. You know being a mixed breed trini was a sin in Point Lisas. Of course the special boys in the PNM and UNC lived like Kings. I wasted 30 years of my live going back home and working there. I am convinced that these people who are still and in charge of things there are devil people. Trinis do not know what they are up against. Ammonia, methanol etc prices were over 400-600 USD per tonne for many years (10-15 yrs at least). You do the math. It costs under 100 USD to produce one tonne of product. We were poor before the 70s and are still dirt poor today. And divide and rule is here to stay with us. These foreign peoples are bleeding us with poor designs, cheap gas, cheap salaries …everything they get in their best interest. They eventually brought OSHA to Trinidad with no injury or penalties for malpractice. That was a death sentence for all trinis working in the industry of Trinidad & Tobago. It is sheer madness. Despite all this we never lost compassion. Shah we are doomed by NOT KNOWING OUR PAST and CONFINED TO MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES OVER AND OVER.

  • Compassion is a word that is alien to most nations engaged in wars of attrition, genocide or scorch earth policy. The Middle East is a place where compassion to some extent does not exist. Why? Because their mindset is such, they love you and are willing to die for you or hate you and are prepared to kill you.

    The conflict in Syria and that region is base on tribalism and religious ideology. Tribalism- “The Assads are originally from Qardaha, just east of Latakia in north-west Syria. They are members of the minority Alawite sect and belong to the Kalbiyya tribe” Assad tribe are the ruling class in Syria all family and tribal members occupy key governmental position, from state security to the economy. They virtually dominate all aspect of Syrian life, naturally members of the other tribes becomes envious and angry at the unchanging status quo. Elections are not held so you live with the same unchanging leaders till they die and a son takes their place.

    The Assads are no stranger to civil conflicts, Basha father slaughtered thousands. The Arab Spring uprising aided by ISIS and American equipment and funding gave rise to this bloody conflict.

    Tribalism along with religion combine to create a sphere of unchanging political ethos. The Sunni/Shia conflict.
    ” Whereas Sunnis dominate the Muslim world, from West Africa to Indonesia, the Shiites are centrally located, with a vast majority in Iran, predominance in Iraq and sizable populations in Syria, Lebanon” These two factors are the main cause of this never ending conflict. Yes human compassion is an aberration when it comes to this conflict.

    We can draw similarities to TnT. When the PNM assumed power for a long time 75% of the government jobs went to a particular tribe. So to housing and other things that the treasury could afford. Police and military were filled with the faithful tribal members and today it is an albatross on Neck of the tax payer. Good money but no results. The PNM functioned as a cult and are back to their dirty tricks. Imbert wife company getting a $19 million contract to power wash Lara Stadium. Martin Daly company where Ms Sharon Rowley is an employee being retained to give legal advice to her husband regarding the President meeting with security officials. How much was paid is anyone’s guess. Garcia giving a $ 1/2 million legal brief to a family member. Yes the biggest set of crook and thieves are the leeches in the PNM who treat tax payers money as their political party slush fund. No respect for the citizenry.

    All the property tax and other tax increases ahead with be used to feed the oligarchy. Nothing will reach the poor and the middle class. When they are done with the treasury they will blame Kamla. No human compassion exist in that party. Kamla gave to the poor and suffering more than anyone else. But this band of PNM thieves will empty the tax payer pocket and cry foul. Now they in a hunt to tar the PP….

  • Oh Mr. Shah… I guess you did not see the BBC report on Venezuela?

    It may be closer to home than far away Yemen and Syria.

  • Russia joined the “bombing spree” in Syria recently as Assad’s only active ally. The US, Britain, France and Turkey have used Syrian territory for target practice since 2011.”

    The war in Syria is a complex one. To unravel this enigma one must look at various external and internal factors at work. Internally there is ISIS working against Assad. The United States funded and train ISIS members under the free Syrian Army. These bounty hunters follow the money. They work for the one paying high dollars meaning their allegiance is not to any particular group. ISIS controlled oil wells and was selling oil to Turkey. They were paying top dollars until the Russians intervene and bombed over 50 oil transporting trucks.

    The external factors are France, Britan, US, Turkey and Russians. If Assad falls there will be a power vacuum and base for ISIS. ISIS represent the true Muslim heartless, compassionless and determined to wreck havoc on all none jihadist. For Turkey it is the return to the Lavant. There was a time when Turkey was the center of the Islamic universe. The caliphate rule much of world and Islamic expansion prospered under their hand. They see themselves as the second most militarized nation after the US as the natural leader of this revived empire. There desire is to lead the ISIS movement by sending fighters to the war zone, buy their oil and build a relationship. Things were going their way with the help of the US until the Russians show up and “checkmate” Obama. The Russians provided military support and often warn the Americans about attacking Assad. They receive support from the French and British, with large Islamic communities in their nation and strongly pro ISIS followers. Both nations are nervous.

    The resulting refugee crisis saw close to several millions entering Europe to escape the war. With Europe population in decline and a large number of Muslims entering with large families (8 to 1)in the year 2050 Europe will be Islamic. If not earlier. Yes there is a huge global shift in the population movement. What would that mean? London, England as an example have over a million Muslims and a Muslim mayor. Some neighborhoods are off limits to non-Muslims. The world will continue to reel under the sword of Allah the most beneficient, the most merciful one….. Human compassion gone for the purpose of expediency.

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