WHILE WE in Trinidad and Tobago observed Divali yesterday, billions across the world will today commemorate the festival. But no matter what day it is celebrated, the message of light triumphing over darkness is one we can always learn from. It’s a message we need to cling to. The challenges we face as a nation demand nothing less.
Even as many yesterday paused to spend time with family and loved ones and to reflect, storm clouds – literally and otherwise – continued to loom over our nation. Many are still recovering from the devastating flood disaster which last month heralded a new low. Sadly, all parties have washed their hands of responsibility for what went wrong at Greendale and there seems to be little hope of non-partisan measures being taken to inquire into and remedy the causes of flooding nationwide.
But that is just one form of darkness upon us. The murderous crime spree continues with our headline yesterday, “Murder Nation”, summarising where we have now reached. In less than three days, between last Friday and Sunday, 11 people were murdered in various parts of the country, causing the toll to leap from 436 to 447 and it is clear it may soon reach 500.
No doubt all of this would be on the minds of right-thinking citizens yesterday, citizens who now cower in fear in their homes waiting, with bated breath, for some change to happen. All hope the Ministry of National Security as well as the Police Service – as well as the State and all other organs of law enforcement – will be able to eventually get a handle on things. But for that to happen there needs to be a deeper social change. What can we as citizens do to dry up the resources of criminals?
This is more than a question of cooperating with police. It is about society and our everyday humanity. What can we do to win the hearts and minds of persons tempted to commit a crime? To teach our young people the skills needed to manage their feelings with maturity? To protect citizens from the misguided few who feel they have a right to take away life? Our new Commissioner of Police has been quick to deploy strong rhetoric to inspire his troops. Yet, gun talk is no match for results. And the results are what we yearn for most.
In the meanwhile, the public is entitled to remain skeptical when eleven people are murdered in the space of a few days. The State must do more than mouth platitudes to victims, it must implement its plans. Or seek the assistance of entities that can.
Each year Divali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. This year we must do everything we can to take steps to make sure this victory becomes a reality.