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It all begins with me

Thursday, May 18 2017

As we go about our day to day business, we interface and interact with others in many ways and on varied levels. Invariably, at some point we almost always end up lamenting deeply about “the crime situation” in Trinidad and Tobago.

Not surprisingly, there always seems to be some mysterious other – usually another person – at whose feet we cast blame for what we believe to be the downward spiral of our society.

This “other” to whom we refer with disdain, could at any given time be the Government, the Opposition, another ethnic group, people who reside in low income areas; a delinquent parent, wealthy business people; individuals at the helm of the (failing) education system and so forth.

Sadly, we seldom seek to examine that person reflecting at us in the mirror – our very own selves.

Most of us would become infuriated if anybody were to suggest that we were a criminal or that we committed a criminal act. That has its bearings in the fact that we continue to view ourselves as fine, upstanding people who do nothing but struggle to get by each day, doing the best we can with what we have.

If we broke that red light, it was because we were late, or going too fast to stop; if we chose to drink and drive it was because we knew we could hold our liquor, and we are, in fact, expert drivers; if we littered, it was because there was a lot of garbage on the streets anyway, or there was no bin within walking distance; if we built without the correct approvals on the hillsides, it was because local officials are too sluggish and burdensome bureaucracy would cause us to miss profitable opportunities.

Similarly, hollow types of reason are offered when we make the choice to talk on our mobile phones while driving; the excuse might well be that we have important deadlines to meet, and in any case, we are capable of multitasking.

Some of us even delight in regaling our friends with stories about how cleverly and cunningly we have evaded being caught by the police! Interestingly, the scenarios mentioned previously are all examples of crimes which carry penalties under the law. What, then, does that intrinsically say about us? By focusing only on what is categorised as “serious crime” such as murder and robberies, we ultimately miss the opportunity to play a part in fixing crime. That is not to say that unlawful killings and violent robberies do not warrant special attention and activation of harsher pursuit and penalties.

In the final analysis, when we engage in any degree of unlawful activity, we are sending a message to impressionable minds that it is alright to do wrong - once you do not get caught. In other words, seek to get ahead by any means necessary and forget about the consequences to others.

To be a law-abiding citizen takes discipline and the desire to do the right thing, even when no one watching.

As responsible individuals, we need to foster a culture of zero tolerance for any form of illegal activity or act – no matter if the perpetrator is a business woman, your favoured government official, a pastor, priest or pundit.

It is only through our awareness of what is right and what is wrong that we can begin to change our ways and appreciate that whatever we do bears consequences for our fellow citizens - in particular, our children and youth.

If we each were to make small but incremental changes and influence our immediate circles to do the same, it would bring nothing but good to our beloved country, Trinidad and Tobago.



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