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Sunday 21 July 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Role models in the most unlikely places

THE EDITOR: It is difficult to find role models in this country as people of good character worthy of emulation. For good character as a collective of the virtues of a sense of right and wrong, of fair play and justice, of empathy and the like, is the essence of true mentorship, not status or circumstance as an end in themselves, unless underpinned by the above, and this is so rare among us.

In the politics the leadership is often tainted by the contradiction between the platitudes extolled at the top and what lies beneath, and the law seems a travesty of itself hardly about truth and justice, with its servants from top to toe under scrutiny for malfeasance of one kind or another.

In the “noble” professions one wonders at the role of its servants with behaviours so antithetical to true education so commonplace among some of our young, and elsewhere, and how the Hippocratic oath can be so violated by the love of money. And away from the “elite,” the way we rob and kill without mercy, drive without care, extort at every turn which betray that dearth of the moral fibre which makes us human.

Yet we can find role models in the most unlikely of places, like with the popcorn man on Lower High Street, San Fernando, who was strong enough to admit he was weak in the past and was willing to redeem himself for the future with honest work. He seemed so heroic against a backdrop of the law which failed to temper justice with mercy so well deserved.

This mix of sin and redemption is the essence of good character and is worthy of emulation in a society where so many prefer to wallow in their wrongdoing with no remorse, no sense of self-rehabilitation.

And again with the young man in Tobago recently featured in the news as a dedicated lettuce farmer. Here is a youth with no pretensions or “vaulting ambition” to become rich, but simply with a burning desire to do something he loves, the purity of his intention reflected in the verdant green of the lettuce beds which surround him.

In a society where the tenet of “get rich or die trying” is a norm adopted by so many of our young people, this young man’s discipline and dedication are a worthy antidote to the thinking of such misplaced youth, and the support of a dad seen in the news, in a son in whom he is well pleased, is a prop to the institution of family which is so sadly in the decline.

And about the Venezuelan migrants, so much is being said against them, and in some instances rightly so, yet the people of Siparia dug deep into their humanity and chose to help these people driven from their homes by dirty politics and just wanting to survive.

The little girl featured in the news sitting alone and barefooted in the dark is a marker of man’s inhumanity to man, but the people of Siparia have demonstrated a response that tells us, with all the blood and violence around us, all the corruption and decay, that there are people among us who have the capacity to be truly human and it is a saving grace worthy of emulation.

And lastly, since space forbids me, how can we miss the fierce independence of a sitting judge who dared in his ruling to let a sitting politician, seemingly a law unto himself, to know the limits of his authority. This is of particular significance for we need people who are willing to tell politicians as it is, and not grovel for “a mess of pottage” as so many do.

This for me is a major cause of our underdevelopment as a people and the judge’s ruling can be the seed to make us grow and ask questions of people who run our lives and not lie prostrate in unquestioning obedience at their feet.

I often end on a note of helplessness in my letters but not this time, for if we look around us amidst the rubble and the dirt, there is often a lotus in the mud somewhere to inspire us.

DR ERROL N BENJAMIN via e-mail

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