THE EDITOR: I note with great interest an article written by the distinguished Prof Ramesh Deosaran published in your August 27 edition, titled “Is patriotism dead?” The learned professor extracted the definition of the word patriot from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary accordingly: “a person who is devoted to and ready to support or defend his or her country.”
The Good Citizen, as immortalised in song by the Mighty Sparrow, is an extremely important point of departure in our appreciation of the value of the term patriot.
Unfortunately, in pointing out that there are things that represent the country and nation, such as the flag, national anthem the national bird, Deosaran inadvertently overlooked the individual and the citizen/s.
This is of extreme importance because if there are individuals/citizens who represent TT with distinction — Deosaran is himself indeed one of them — then the answer to the question is patriotism dead is quite obviously a resounding no.
Interestingly enough, however, your other columnist, Jamille Broome, in his extremely sarcastic “What it means to be ‘ah Trini’,” chose to focus on the behavioural side while Deosaran placed emphasis on the “symbolic.”
I most respectfully advance to your readers that the greater hope for us having a more enlightened and purposed appreciation of the concepts of patriot and patriotism resides with us having a clear, focused, engaged and active appreciation of the achievements of our countrymen and women.
What do I mean by this?
Let’s take for example the idea of the establishment of a maritime industry in TT. Anyone with vision examining a world map would recognise the extremely valuable strategic maritime and even geopolitical location of TT, particularly in the context of the Central America/South America shipping lanes. (Raleigh clearly did not stop in La Brea by accident.)
Yet, though some 44 years (1973 -2017) have elapsed since Harold and Kwailan La Borde circumnavigated the globe, not once but twice, on a self-made 40-foot ketch, we have failed to actualise that wellspring of patriotism and national pride — against such masterful accomplishments — so as to foster the requisite sense of industry, maritime purpose and destiny bounded in faith.
Today, there is nowhere on the horizon the La Borde line of barge, pirogue, schooner, ketch, boat, yacht or ship. This despite the fact that we clearly do indeed have the requisite expertise, as Harold La Borde himself so effectively demonstrated.
In the 15th century, with the prospects of reaching Asia by sea, those monarchs with vision called their best navigators, mathematicians, geographers, architects, scientists, weapons experts and shipbuilders together to launch enterprise. The rest is history.
(For us in TT the word enterprise unfortunately tends to be associated with crime.)
When the people of TT rally they are capable of accomplishing great things but it all has to do with how we seek to conceptualise and contextualise the word patriot and, more importantly, how we seek to actualise such an understanding on the basis of who we are and the intrinsic value our accomplishments.