Peter O'Connor writes a weekly column for the Newsday.
I am writing this on a rainy day, one of many recently, from a little house in the forest – Brasso Mountain Estate. I have been here since last Friday and came up to see – hoping to see?– this storied Blue Moon. But also once again to be away from “town” and free from the rising tide of indiscipline, noise, filth and bloodshed over which we have no control and which we appear not to have any desire to turn back.
It just all gets worse every day. Basic competence in providing water, repairing roads, having medicines in our pharmacies, is now beyond us. So how could we select a Commissioner of Police or judges for our courts or a ferry for Tobago without the whole process, far less the decisions, collapsing even as we try to patch them together with afterthought and second guessing?
So our people seem quite comfortable just drifting along as everything falls apart, seemingly content to mentally masturbate on Facebook, or whatever and feel that they are thus involved in protest against the ills overwhelming us. Show your support for an issue or a cause: Click on something and move on. That is the extent of our “commitment.” And that is why I try to stay away from the city and the dread which is pulling us down, and escape to the forests to try to enjoy the promised huge Blue Moon.
But the Blue Moon was a no-show! Heavy cloud cover, day and night for the week we would have spent here, hid the sun, far less the moon! We had two full moons in January, but will have no full moon in February, and I wonder what portents that may hold for us? But our two big moons hid themselves from us here in Trini-land, like if the moon was embarrassed, even afraid to show her face? There has been more murderous bloodshed between these two full moons than in any month ever in our history. Shootings, stabbings and choppings are the methods of popular choice as we cut down mostly young men, but also some women. So our full moons brought endless rain, hoping maybe to wash the blood from our streets?
But this is Carnival time! So we do not have to study the bloodshed, nor the fact that we are still struggling—more frenzied now—to find and appoint a Commissioner of Police. It seems that whether we look at politics or police, we realise that we simply no longer have people suitable to serve, far less to lead us. Let us accept that and try to re-build our society from the ground up. Because we are not producing leaders any more. People in whom we trust, and who will shape our society as it develops. We need to begin to acknowledge where we are in terms of our economy and our work force. And the fact that we have deferred our concerns over job losses and the collapsing economy until after Carnival, even as we struggle to have Carnival, does not bode well for the future. Watch the mas when it comes, folks. Watch the mood at Jourvert, for that will guide our behaviour and our fortunes through the following months.
Do you remember jourvert 1970? The protest mas played by many steelbands was the precursor to April 1970 and the Black Power uprisings and which nearly toppled the Williams’ government. The mood in the country is, all now, moving into protest mode as the layoffs and the hard times begin to bite. Government and business will be hard pressed to find ways to meet their payrolls, and Government will need to walk a tightrope trying to keep the peace without confrontations.
After mas, after Ash Wednesday, we all have serious issues with which to deal. Individually, and as in our “estates”—Government, business, labour, civil society—we have to face the reality of where we are, financially. And we need to understand each others’ realities as well as sharing our own. Small businesses have been closing, and people are being laid off, even from larger businesses. People with mortgages or rents to pay, children to mind, suddenly have nothing. But we somehow encourage laying off workers? I find it difficult to believe that this dispute at Point Lisas cannot be settled or arbitrated without shutting down the plant and firing all the workers?
But this is TT, and it is Carnival time. So we will continue to play old mas’ with whoever may become our police commissioner, Tobago ferries, highway disputes, and whatever. Parliament, if it meets this coming week, will set the stage for Robber Talk.
And if you want a dry Carnival, keep the blood off the streets, so the rain will not be needed. Play mas!