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Friday 13 December 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Clinging to a straw in a nation on the brink

THE EDITOR: Immersed as a citizen of this nation “in a sea of troubles,” I feel like a drowning man clinging to a straw in finding a small measure of comfort in three recent developments: the dispelling of the rumour that the funeral service of a recognised gangster would be held in a place of learning, that the DPP would revisit the AV case of the allegedly abused journalist and the coming together of Government and Opposition to pass the bail bill.

The first, if brought to reality, would have wreaked of the ultimate insensitivity to the contradiction involved in that happening and the inevitable negative reaction ensuing, the avoidance of which is to the credit of the Education Ministry.

Secondly , the return to the AV case puts to bed, at least momentarily, that loss of faith in the justice system which seemed to have set aside due process in this instance.

Thirdly, the unity on the bail bill of perennially warring factions in a just national cause of mitigating a runaway crime situation which was likely to escalate further, the nation being on the brink of anarchy, is reason for some small celebration.

Finding some comfort in these seemingly insignificant events is a measure of my yearning for something to rally around, a small step to the way forward. For of late I had put a halt to my letters to the editor, for the simple reason that continuing in that vein seemed such an exercise in futility since the ethical, moral and professional standards which often underpin my commentary and the logic and good sense I often appeal to, evidently continue to blow idly in the wind.

For example, the continuing war between the leadership and the judiciary which is escalating by the hour shows no awareness on both sides of the negative effect such can have on the effective administration of justice and the public confidence in same.

Again the singling out of one ethnic group in terms of its under-achievement as against the perceived government indifference to the plight of another now in the throes of mourning for their dead at the hand of criminals, can only exacerbate racial tensions, as the near confrontational stance between these two groups on the waterfront amply demonstrates.

And what can be said about the crime? The plaintive cry of a father from Carli Bay that “they coulda tie dey hand and let them go…why did dey have to kill dem so?” tells of man’s inhumanity to man in this country, how we have become “monsters of the deep,” in the words of Lear in that great play by Shakespeare on the unnatural “ingratitude of his daughters,” with the slaughter of the helpless, handicapped, granny of Cachipe, Moruga, speaking no less.

And I can go on and on and on…But the point is clear.

We are a nation on the brink of anarchy, which is why these three small incidents are important to me for it gives me hope that those who control our lives, that despite everything, they have the capacity to think critically of the consequences of what they say and do, and possess the humanity that attends it.

We are ever aware, however, of the psychology of power, and that despite the best of intentions, how it can “corrupt,” and often “absolutely” so.

Even as I write and draw sustenance from the Opposition/Government unity on the bail bill, already a government official, according to a news item, instead of building on that unity, is virtually scoffing at that unity, suggesting that the Opposition voted for the bill because of “public” pressure. The road is indeed long.

Perhaps I am a drowning man clinging to a straw but as tenuous as this is, I still seem to have much more than the fishermen of Carli Bay, forced to drown in the deep ocean without even a straw to hold onto.

DR ERROL N BENJAMIN

via e-mail

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