It is no secret that one of my major points of focus in this column is the welfare and protection of Trinidad and Tobago’s animals. Animals cannot speak for themselves (at least not in ways that most people will understand) and, unlike humans, do not have regular representation in the media.
Sometimes I feel like a stuck record – repeatedly writing about neglected, poisoned, chopped or otherwise abused animals...or about the revised laws against animal cruelty that are not enforced...or about the vital need for ongoing Government-funded spay/neuter programmes as a humane way of reducing animal overpopulation on the island.
I say "humane," because several people have told me of inhumane ways of "getting rid of" unwanted puppies and kittens. These methods range from dumping boxes of animal offspring at (or over) the gates of the animal shelter to placing them in sacks full of rocks and sinking them to a watery death in the ocean.
Most, if not all, animal advocates/activists/lovers feel like stuck records. For example – several in Trinidad have been campaigning unsuccessfully for years to have fireworks either regulated or banned. Many others cry out daily on social media about the same issues I address repeatedly in my articles. All cries seem to fall on deaf ears.
How many petitions will be created and shared in the hope of gathering sufficient signatures to move mountains? How many social media posts will be written and shared with names of "authorities" tagged, in the hope that one day someone "in power" will notice, feel compassion, realize the need for change in the area(s) of concern and take swift action?
Rather than think of ourselves as "stuck records," I prefer to believe that we who consistently call for beneficial change on behalf of animals, humans, the environment and infrastructure are more like drops of water continually falling on huge, seemingly impenetrable bodies of rock until we make a sufficiently significant impression or massive breakthrough.
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force, but through persistence,” wrote Roman poet Ovid.
It is interesting to note that Ovid rhymes with covid – the latter being a topic which must make our Prime Minister and others heading the national "anti-covid team" also feel like stuck records.
How many times will they have to remind the public to "wear your masks”...“social distance”...“don’t drink alcohol in bars and restaurants”...“don’t gather in large groups”...“don’t leave quarantine”...“don’t swim in the seas and rivers?
Despite the Government’s repetition of the restrictions, we continue to see news reports about bar owners being arrested for serving alcohol... citizens being arrested for swimming in the ocean or rivers...for jamming up and partying privately or publicly in the hundreds...for not wearing masks...
“Is anyone listening to us?” our Prime Minister, Minister of Health and other "authorities" must be saying in frustration as they appear on more covid-related press conferences, hoping to get citizens to co-operate and "work" with them to "fight the virus."
Perhaps for the first time, our leaders are experiencing directly, on a nationwide scale, what we, the citizens of this nation experience daily – not always being listened to by those with the power to work with and for us, to make a difference when and where it really matters.
The difference is, when authorities do not listen to us, we, the citizens, cannot draft laws overnight and police them into doing what we want them to. If we could, news headlines might read: "Police officer arrested for not enforcing animal cruelty legislation”... “AG charged for not writing legislation banning/regulating firework use”...“Government held for refusing to fund ongoing nationwide spay/neuter programmes”...
Multitudes of Trinbagonians experiencing "stuck record" syndrome are "stuck abroad." For over a year they have cried consistently: “Please bring us home. Let us back in!” Their calls also fall on deaf ears.
What would happen if we all (leaders and citizens) cared enough to attend to each other’s "stuck records?" When someone listens to us with understanding, compassion and respect and works steadfastly with/for us to help solve issues and answer needs for the betterment of the nation, are we not more encouraged to reciprocate in kind?