Diary of a mothering worker
DR GABRIELLE JAMELA HOSEIN
TODAY BEGINS the most important decade of our generation and perhaps of all human time. What we do in these next ten years will determine the future of billions and of hundreds of species on our blue planet, and it will do this with a finality we have never before experienced.
On the one hand, it’s the best of times. Even while economic and class inequality increases, the poorest across Asia and Africa are becoming less poor, increasing numbers of girls have access to education, forest protection is emerging as a priority, and agriculture is improving in productivity. Countries around the world are beginning to ban single-use plastics, turn to renewable resources and energy efficiency, and clean up the oceans.
On the other hand, it’s the worst of all time. Given the biological annihilation of 60 per cent of all wild animals in the past 50 years, and the extreme loss of insects and birds, we are in what is being described as the First Extermination Event or the Necrocene (necro means dead, so: the age of death).
We can also see this globally in the contradictions and realities of flooding, heatwave, stronger hurricanes, melting glaciers, sea-level rise and drought. Wherever there is such crisis, the poorest, the youngest, and the most vulnerable disproportionately suffer, starve, become trafficked and exploited, turn to risky migration, or become incarcerated and killed. There are thousand of stories like this. Pay attention, for one day we too may be crying while no one hears.
I find hope in the public fury that emerged across the globe, seemingly overnight, from Paris to Port-au-Prince, Beirut to Bogota and Berlin, Catalonia to Cairo, and in Hong Kong, Santiago, Sydney, Seoul, Quito, Jakarta, Tehran, Algiers, Baghdad, Budapest, London, New Delhi, Manila, and even Moscow. People are furious. Dissent is everywhere. Where ordinary people see a system that alienates them, they sought to represent themselves and take power.
The New York Times reports that “many of the catalysts in 2019 were originally small, even unlikely, and the initial demands modest. In Sudan, the spark was the price of bread, in January; in India, the price of onions, in October; in Brazil, it was a cutback in funding for school textbooks, in August; in Lebanon, a tax on WhatsApp usage, in October; in Chile, a hike in subway fares, in October; and in Iran, a four-cent increase on a litre of gas, in November. But virtually all protests worldwide quickly escalated, and began issuing ultimatums for their governments to embrace sweeping changes – or to move aside.”
Here in TT, an election year is a time for anger, not for patience nor politeness. Why is there no procurement legislation? Why is there no Beverage Container Act? Why is there no approved National Gender Policy? Why is there no national strategy to prevent violence against women and girls or, worse, child sexual abuse? Why are we spending $5 billion for a port in Toco when the population is not convinced it is necessary? Why is there no serious economic diversification strategy? Why are experienced domestic violence shelters closing for lack of financial support while the Government plans to open more? Why must any of us repeat ourselves when we call for what is right?
From taxi drivers to hairdressers to supermarket cashiers to delivery men, who we decide to be, how we decide to live and what we decide we value will determine the survival of our children.
This is not a time for pessimism, just as it is not a time for passivity. Democracy is popular control over our social, economic and ecological destiny. It means that governments listen to sense without us having to beg. It means they answer to our refusal of injustice. It means that what they don’t hear, they feel.
We always had this responsibility and power. We wasted it in wars, in distraction, laziness, block talk and greed. We wasted it in letting elites make poor decisions while we vote them back in cyclically. Today there is a turning point by which this must stop.
In this decade, our primary responsibility is to seize power and opportunity to determine our fate. Each of us must find something we care about, some minor change we can make, some necessary demand we will defend, some part of a hopeful future on which you will leave your mark. Each of us must step forth into this dawn as if we were born to conquer the dark.