THERE HAS to be compassion for each other in TT. That is why I do not agree with either the actions of the police or that of the scores of young men and women who are now up in arms in certain communities in Trinidad.
I sympathise with the families of the late policeman Allen Mosely and two-year-old Aniah Mc Leod, killed with her father Stephon Mc Leod.
But there is no justification for a militarised police service. “One shot, one kill” may be good for a soldier in combat, but not for dealing with civilians. Likewise, I cannot condone the adoration for criminal activity in some minds. Murder and mayhem are destroying a whole generation of Black men and women.
As a former executive member of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) I will not revel in nostalgia – 1970 was 50 years ago. Much was achieved but a lot has been eroded, mainly in the way the current age group was not schooled about the achievements of those who marched the streets for 56 days from February 2 to April 21, 1970.
The ignorance about the events of those days makes up what Valentino (Emrold Anthony Phillip) said, “Trini have a funny way of forgetting,” but it is also a part of what was done to our minds. Powerful people in this country have made us disregard our own history. No wonder we have a problem in some quarters with the removal of the Columbus statue.
Now our history has come back to haunt us.
The leaders of the urban uprising may be identifiable, says Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith. But their followers are clueless while they are demonstrating. As another calypsonian, the original Diamond (Purcell Lewis), said to me, “…where there is no head there is no sense.” Yet the reality is some of them have sophisticated guns with the intention of facing police who themselves have lost the idea about how to protect and serve the communities.
Many a time NJAC had said that the dysfunctional life among some people in these communities should be seen as the consequences of wider problems. There is no motivation to remove the stigma which has been imposed on them. Education has become a problem because the best schools are located elsewhere. Politicians see the people as pawns to be shuffled about with each election.
So, what needs to be done.
The leadership of this country must now see the people with more compassion than they have ever shown before. I refer to the blue book, The People’s Declaration of Policy for The Development of a New Trinidad & Tobago:
1. There has to be a change in the class and cultural bias in the content of education. The physical facilities have to be upgraded especially in the primary schools.
2. The family must be restored as one of the basic, cherished units of the society. Despite the many pressures that put the family unit under strain in our society today, the role of a well-knit family in the full development of an individual has found no substitute and family breakdown is certainly one of the causes of the many maladjusted individuals in this society.
3. The lesson of 1970 is that love is possible. A substantial proportion of the population was involved in that new ethos in the society. It is an ethos that can permeate the entire society.
In such a society there is no doubt that we would: Respect and elevate the woman, love the children, honour the old, respect and prepare the youth.
Love involves a recognition of social responsibility, when we see each other as brothers and sisters, we talk and relate to each other differently, we see our responsibility to each other, we are able to co-operate more readily and work towards the common good.
Aiyegoro Ome is the founder/director of The SINUHE Centre