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Sunday 19 August 2018
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Letters to the Editor

Symptoms of social decay in our country

THE EDITOR: Driving around San Fernando on May 7 between 9 am and noon, I witnessed first-hand the following traffic violations: three drivers turning left into former Lady Hailes without the amber arrow and one turning right off Rushworth Street into the street leading into Old Tech. Coincidence (probably) or ignorance of the law? The first maybe, the other, hardly an excuse.

What if, however, such law-breaking reflects a mindset which says that the law can be broken because there is usually no consequence attached, and further, is this mindset extended to much more than traffic.

Which begs the question of how and why.

The cohesive thread of any functioning society is the mandate of accountability for action, and consequence thereof.

The convicted criminal is jailed, the traffic offender fined and the academic truant is often a failure, and if there is no such consequence in each case, the social order is undermined and chaos reigns.

I write this way because there is a prevailing apathy among us as a people about yet another murder, or a failed drug bust or money heist, or buggery, or a domestic violence case, with no thought of the cumulative social decay which these represent.

We drive in our Range Rovers or Almeras, go to our fancy restaurants or fast food joints, hobnob with the elite or go on a river lime with no sense of how decadent we have become as a people, that is until the decay seeps into our own backyard as with the “home invasions” of late.

I have chosen the latter as a symptom of the level of our degeneracy because whatever form criminality may have taken, it has never really reached the home in the way it has now with the latter being singled out and targeted for invasion.

Forgive my naivete, but the home as an institution will have been spared up till now, for it would have probably still been sacred and sacrosanct even to the would-be criminal who would violate it, for it would have housed a mother, a father, a sibling very much like their own. But how deluded we can get, for even men of the cloth and places of worship have been violated in the past. So what makes the home so special?

This is what the society has become, that anywhere, anytime, any place you can be a victim. The socialisation processes may have been functional, but whatever fruits these may have borne have gone to waste because of the cumulative sense that there is no need to account for our actions, that there will be no consequence to our misdeeds.

And how did this evil grow in us? Simply because the social institution which should have sown the idea of action followed by consequence in us through the effective implementation of the law, making it both our national and personal culture, has failed us as a people and itself has become the ultimate travesty of its role and function.

I won’t go into the details of this for Raffique Shah’s article entitled “Police Service a disaster zone” of May 8 provides much food for thought on this subject.

But maybe those traffic lawbreakers are not inherently irresponsible but merely a symptom of the disease which now plagues us a people.

DR ERROL BENJAMIN

docbenj742 @outlook.com

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