For those of us who welcomed in the new year with joy and merriment, we ought to thank God that we are alive and were able to do so.
Given that our country is just a tiny dot on the globe with a population of under 1.5 million people, and when we consider our abundant natural resources, our diverse people living in peace with each other, the evident divine protection from natural disasters, and vindicating these blessings with our happy-go-lucky claim that God is a Trini, how or why are we still tottering with hundreds of murders every year?
Our two major political parties continue to openly blame each other for this mayhem, but do red and yellow flag-wavers seriously think they hold each other wholly responsible, especially for heinous crimes? It’s an established fact that just as moral standards have fallen globally, murders have simultaneously increased. And while some nations have kept delinquency at a minimum with a combination of education — from primary to tertiary — and stringent criminal laws, none has escaped the general moral decline among its citizens.
Unfortunately, this deterioration has become a convenient blame game for our two major political parties in their quest for power. After one party is elected to govern, every opportunity is seized by the loser to highlight weak economic standings, increased crime statistics, real or imagined, and falling moral standards by the general population.
The losing party will point out every assumed misstep, not because it cares or is better prepared to deal with challenges, but because by opposing every step the ruling party makes and criticising all its policies it believes its chances of being elected the next time around increases. Actually it has, for decades. Yes, we need overseers, but this aspect of democracy is clearly manipulated for personal gain.
So how do we break this rampart spate of heinous crimes and/or murders? The answer is on everybody’s lips: start severe corporal punishment and hangings again.
For our country to resume effective hanging will depend, unfortunately, on the cooperation of the very people that sit on both sides of our Parliament chamber.
So from all indications, given that the two political parties that occupy the seats in Parliament are forever condemning each other at every opportunity, it would appear we are stuck with this murderous rot for a long time to come. We claim to be intelligent citizens, yet it’s amazing how we continue to hypnotically wave our red or yellow flags, even in the face of all the bloodshed around us.
At the same time it appears we do not possess the know-how or testicular fortitude to demand that these people, ruling party and opposition, cast aside their egocentric, self-centred, narcissistic attitude and their convenient smiling and shaking of our hands and start genuinely thinking of the welfare of the people who have them there, all 41 of them.
Even some of our religious leaders are now apparently refuting their very instructions on the death penalty or have adopted the role of “sacred attorneys” by dissecting and twisting the very teaching they were taught, even in the face of the murderous onslaught we are now witnessing. They ought to keep in mind that the source of their knowledge and adopted beliefs also recommends the death penalty for many other “smaller” offences. But because of our diverse religious composition and our “advanced/modern” legal system, and even today’s moral decline, they have apparently adopted a tow-the-line approach and heinous offences are now treated with a comparative slap on the wrist.
A former archbishop of Port of Spain, who openly condemned the death penalty, should once more read his book of divine inspiration on this particular matter and when it sinks in, try passing it to Members of Parliament, keeping in mind these are the people placed in positions of society to make or amend laws that can lift up moral principles or lower them. After he has spoken to all 41 and grasps their perspective as people in power, only then he may understand where we truly are.
Happy New Year to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Those positions can change quickly but if only it was possible for them both to think cohesively about the welfare of citizens on this single matter.