TO BE CLEAR, the title of this column refers to 2021, not the year in our rearview mirror, 2020. Today's entry proved one of the most difficult to write. Even though I'm perceived by many as a negative zone, I don't revel in the absence of hope – least of all at a time when hope is most needed. Anyone who reads this column will probably accept that even though it focuses on the problems weighing TT down and neutering its potential, it's also packed with ideas, suggestions, and questions that can help us out of the hole we're in.
I'm not omniscient, nor am I an expert in many areas. Hell, I don't even consider myself a bright person – not in the conventional sense of the word. My strength comes from curiosity and a determination to find a better way of doing things. Having personally suffered the crucible of failure I am determined to be defined, not as a cautionary tale, but a story of triumph against unimaginable adversity.
This is getting personal, and we don't know each other like that, but I've learned a lot over the past few years. I've made peace with taking responsibility for my actions and omissions. Not every occurrence derailing my ambitions is the fault of some insidious, unseen cabal convened with the sole purpose of thwarting my ambitions.
I'm also beginning to learn that failure, and admission of it, isn't a badge of weakness. There is strength in admitting and accepting where I went wrong. When I make a mistake, I own it and make amends, never passing blame down the line. A mistake that isn't accepted can't be corrected. Do these traits sound like the opposite of someone you know?
I am owed nothing by anyone, but I owe everything to those who have shown faith in me. Where it's possible to help someone I am duty-bound to do so because I have myself been given a lifeline by those who saw the need in me. With all that said, I understand that effort and time spend trying to change others around me is squandered energy – I can only change myself.
One of the most difficult outflows of the year gone by was the apparent acquiescence of the public amid the collapse of everything around us: Infrastructure continues to crumble before our very eyes. Violent, vicious murders and abductions scarcely draw gasps anymore. Economic decline and job losses are practically ignored by those still in possession of theirs. Lies and deception in governance are perpetrated in broad daylight.
TT is inured to the bombardment of scandal, diaphanous denials or justifications, and the irrevocable downward spiral of a nation never as great as its potential to be so. Incandescent outrage that was all the rage between 2010 and 2015 dimmed considerably over the last five years. It's now little more than a weakly smoldering “cherry” of a discarded cigarette.
Perhaps there's a significant cohort absolutely worn down by bartering their votes and voice for more of the same. Better to retreat into the familiarity of their own lives and the semi-illusory control therein. Their ability to perceive wrong from right hasn't diminished – it's their hope for measurable change that's been blunted by a perverse attachment to the status quo.
Then there is the defence of the indefensible force. Many Trinis refuse to interrogate anything they're told by the government but are the first to mount the most ridiculous campaigns against a common-sense analysis of pressing problems. Everything is torpedoed under the rubric of “That is opposition lies.”
Here's an example: the Prime Minister described those commenting on his daughter's exemption to travel from New York (where the PM himself admits she lives) to Trinidad for Christmas as disgusting. Dr Rowley is calling me, a citizen of this country, and anyone who questioned the propriety of that exemption, disgusting. Searing contempt is what passes for leadership today – purchased with the widespread abdication of our own self-worth.
So, hope for 2021? Well, there are two kinds of hope – there is the hope that things will turn out fine in the end; there are people in charge to see about “those things.” We are hopelessly wedded to this variety. Then there's hope fuelled by actions that drive desired outcomes. I can hope for a better tomorrow for TT, but I am working for a brighter tomorrow for myself.