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Tuesday 21 November 2017
Commentary

The grooms of the nation

The stories roll in again and women are at the battlefront – once more. In the US Harvey Weinstein is making his own waves and here our Prime Minister is creating his. This is not Dr Rowley’s first slip when it comes to the second gender (or so we womenfolk seem to be defined in the eyes of powerful men). Again I listened – bored. There seems to be a general air of boredom over my head these days. There’s not much hope around these parts you see. Progress will continue to be elusive should we the people continue to accept whatever is doled out to us.

Maya Angelou comes to mind at this point when she remarked “There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.” Not that I classify myself as young. I do, however, sometimes believe that I know nothing when listening to speeches by those whom we have elected as leaders. Many times I question whether the main criteria for leadership are arrogance and indifference. Given that I would like to think of myself as well-groomed, I will refrain from anything more than simply expressing disappointment at recent happenings.

Language, as we know, can create serious problems when manipulated poorly. And there seems to be poor manipulation or rather, poor usage of language, in all its forms among the nation’s leaders – body language, single sentences (the recent Imbert shrug and condescending facial expression comes to mind)– and now, Dr Rowley justifying the allocation of $3 million to golf course grooming by making, what I might consider, a completely unneeded comparison to women.

A sigh escapes me. It is the expression of resignation – the coming to terms with the belief that gets increasingly firmer – that this nation will continue to point fingers and create uproars over social media platforms but nothing significant will come of it. Work is slow. Yes, it will take generations for our attitudes to change. Perhaps another fifty years?

What baffles me most–although it should not be a baffling issue given that the internet, its social media platforms and the quick links that direct our observation in seconds from one page to the other have made for lazy thinking– is that, despite access to information, our nation’s ability to think has decreased over the years.

In an age of knowledge we would be hard-pressed to find people in leadership positions here who have a grasp of thought. Let’s not even bother glancing at the US now. When one speaks of thought, we are talking about the BBC thinking, you know, the way the network portrays itself as dedicated to stories that go “below the surface.” It is the “below the surface” thought in which some of us are interested. And this thought brings me to the woman question and it takes me further into the symbolism of Divali and Navatri (the latter being the nine-day fast dedicated to the feminine divinities that took place approximately two weeks before Divali). Why, one may ask?

I suppose in the context of the disparaging remark by the Prime Minister, the irony that one section of the population was marking a period dedicated to the feminine divine stands out to me. On one hand, here we have a multicultural, rainbow nation, where we speak about respect for each other and on the other hand, the leader of the people stands up on public platforms and, from time to time, makes off-handed remarks about women. But one supposes this is calypsonian mentality, the expressions and symbolic claiming of power through jest.

But, it is not my intention to make a large hullabaloo out of this for this, too, shall pass – as most issues have. My intent is to put forward a simple observation – that leadership of the people should be leadership of the people. The luxury of making casual, jesting remarks is not yours when you enter leadership roles. That language can be severely misinterpreted and to say, “Well that is all yuh business how all yuh want to interpret it,” is just as insulting and demeaning (as is a shrug and a smirk, gestures that parents in my day and even more so in the days when our current leaders were children, would have wiped off with one backhand had a child dared to do that in response to a question).

As a friend once wisely said to me, “You have to teach people how to treat you.” How we do that is a matter for us to decide.

Hopefully that decision comes soon.

For, should we continue as we are, the nation will continue to be groomed according to the whims and fancies of those in power.

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