THE EDITOR: Maybe there is some way to try to explain why people in high places would call us schizophrenic, wayward, ill-disciplined as the virus rages and people are dying like never before.
Maybe we just don’t read enough or are not sufficiently involved with social media to have knowledge of how dangerous this virus has become, killing young and middle-aged people and not only old people, as we once thought.
Maybe we are not a “thinking” people, being Third World and all, and out of such a stereotype shaped by a politics based on race which makes us indifferent to the failings of our leaders and their having to account, only guided by whether they look like us and how we can benefit from such blind loyalty. Or maybe we have just had enough of this being spoken down to and we just need some breathing space.
Which bring us to the actual critics. Do they take us for granted knowing that they can say and do as they please without an iota of reaction because of the aforesaid blind loyalty, hence the “schizophrenia” comment, calling us erratic and delusional; the never-ending berating, leading to lockdown after lockdown and the perennial comment of a “bed is not a bed,” with many not being able to access one, as the young woman from Chaguanas snuffed out in the prime of her life.
Sure, with this new phenomenon the average person will fall short, but people have been falling in line, most dutifully wearing their masks and physical distancing. And if the ghost town that TT was on the two holidays is any measure of a hapless people fearing for their lives and co-operating in the absolute, I don’t know what is.
But the “high-ups” have stereotyped us as being simple-minded with no capacity for the kind of critical thinking to make them account, without applying the intellectual rigour to truly understand why the management of covid19 is failing.
Sure, we are culpable in many ways, but have they considered their failure to act decisively in a timely manner, like arranging for vaccines way in advance, putting systems in place to ensure its smooth administration, and utilising qualified personnel and organisations to facilitate same, inter alia?
But this continuing condescension of our senior officials out of a presumption that we are simple-minded and unquestionably loyal, no matter what they say or do, is very much at variance with an evidently discerning public wanting to ask questions about covid19 and get answers.
Iconic writers in the media, for example, question this constant “dus in we face” and the perennial “gas lighting” from the top, blaming the public for this present surge when much could have been done in anticipation of the virus re the procuring of vaccines and their systematic administration. And refusing to admit there has been much faux pas in the handling of this virus, such as the fallout from the Easter fiasco, attempting to put the blame on the Andrea Bharatt vigils instead.
Or insisting on lockdown after lockdown without attempting to balance that with the survival of small and now not so small businesses, many now in danger of extinction. Or leaving the pensioners in the cold – I mean the hot sun – not being able to access the means to their basic livelihood without a working plan in place. And converting all Point Fortin hospitals to covid19 facilities without a thought of non-covid19 emergencies, like the pregnant mother who had to give birth on the roadside, this time in the cold.
And I can go on and on and on…
Can we expect this kind of introspection from those high-ups to better serve the people in these dangerous times? Members of the public in many ways feel betrayed and is it any wonder that they seem unco-operative because they have lost faith in those who should shepherd them out of this trauma?
Public trust is the key. Can our higher-ups build that trust by levelling with the people rather than talking down to them as much as they do?
I leave that answer to you.
DR ERROL N BENJAMIN