Sunday, March 17, 2013

Born on the Ides of March - the Peter O.Connor commentary

I set out this year to write about the environment, hoping to persuade everyone that the beautiful mountains, rivers, forests wetlands and beaches which have not yet been developed (destroyed!) are treasured assets which we hold in trust for our children. 

But the continuing scourge of crime, which has us all living in fear, has changed my agenda a bit, so I am also trying to raise some consciousness that we have the ability to deal with both issues.However, this week, I am taking a short break — sort of, because these two issues are part of me — to reminisce and wonder. 

Turning 75 is a milestone of sorts, I suppose, and that happened to me on Friday, the Ides of March 2013. Now the Ides of March became a portentous day in 44 AD when a soothsayer allegedly told Julius Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March”, and the Emperor was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate. 

So, as I look at the world today, including our world here in TT, I wonder about the impending wars, injustice, the poisoning of our planet, and here at home, the awful crime, local injustices and the ongoing destruction of our habitat.

And I wonder what my father was pondering on that Tuesday morning of March 15, 1938, when I was born in an incomplete bungalow in the new little Antilles Camp in Vessigny, south Trinidad. The old radio — he kept it for years so I remember it — would have given him the BBC news of the gathering clouds of war in Europe. My mother, his Argentine-born English wife would have had no horrors birthing me in her home. She and all of her siblings were born in remote estancias in Patagonia.

Their world must have been frightening in many ways, and for the first seven years of my life I knew of war.

Distant war, maybe, but I remember the Home Guard, flights of RAF planes overhead — the British established Carlsen Field to train fighter pilots because the skies over England were filled with German planes — and the coming of the Americans. But things began to turn around and we could hear the BBC news as the allies began to advance through Europe.

I remember the feteing on VE-Day and VJ Day, when we learned the war was over.

But we survived those dreadful years, we in Vessigny, and indeed the world, although with huge losses. So, when the world, or local circumstances tend to depress me, I try to imagine my parents’ concerns back then, and I believe, certainly I hope, that we are not facing the Armageddon which nearly consumed mankind in those times.

But need I worry? Certainly not for myself, and not too much for my now grown children. But for my grandchildren, I must.

Their world is already so different from their parents, far less than mine. I worry that the world might fail them, as it nearly failed my generation.

I worry that they may be victims of ever-rising crime, or that they may be called upon to fight a war. I worry that they might think that paving is superior to grass, or that cities are better than forests, or that milk comes from a box, because they never saw a cow.

So we took our children, my brothers and I, to learn to live in the forests of Madamas and Tacarib. Freedom is eight or ten little boys, and a couple of little girls — none older than 12 running along the Madamas beach under a full moon to marvel at a Leatherback turtle laying her eggs. And I remember members of the Earth People, those who went to live naked at Cachipa, to “start civilisation anew” after the coming Apocalypse, helping our children to carve spears — “lances” — and head upstream to hunt and fish for dinner.

But they learned enough, and loved the wilderness enough to talk about me taking their children to those places now, so our next generation can share experiences being lost to so many children. And I will take them! Because I still can. And they will learn how to survive just in case all the computers crash, because they would have learned, as their parents did, that Sligo has the knife!

So, reasonably fit and healthy, but not necessarily claiming a sound mind, I will try to preserve our wilderness for my grandchildren’s appreciation and enjoyment, and try to help end our scourge of crime and corruption.

And hopefully leave a less-threatened planet when I finally take my last trek.

Rome still stands after the Ides of March 44 AD. I survive and prevail after 75 successive Ides of March, so whatever was the threat, it must have been directed at Caesar only.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai