Sunday, May 26, 2013

The roots of our problems: The Peter O'Connor commentary

It was early in 1987. The NAR had won the general election in December. I was in the St. James Police Station to renew firearm licenses for those shot-fired nail guns used in construction. 

Although I had an appointment, the surly sergeant kept me waiting. When he summoned me into his office, he shoved a daily newspaper across his desk at me, saying “You see allyou, people like you and Elias, is allyou who cause things like this!” 

I was nonplussed; the headline was about government decision to clamp down on hospital staff who were “taking home”, basic foods, soaps and detergents and even linen. Sergeant saw my confusion, so he explained: “My wife is a matron at POSGH. You know what this is going to cost us?”

Move to 2005, in the Hasely Crawford Stadium. I was there to help set-up the stadium for an International Friendly for the Soca Warriors. The stadium had been in use earlier, a POS area Primary Schools Sports Meeting, and the children were all leaving the stadium, walking along the athletic track and out through the Marathon Tunnel. 

Some little boys wandered on to the playing field, and a security guard asked them not to walk on the field; they move off, quite willingly. But this upsets a female teacher of little obedient boys. She raises her voice imperiously: “Who say allyou cyar walk on the field? Look, allyou walk on the grass if you want!” Little boys stick out their chests, watch the security guard “cut-eye” and strut defiantly on to the field.

Now to 2013, and the scion of our corporate growth and development, Lawrence Duprey, ensconced in Miami, and wanted in Trinidad for questioning about the collapse of the Empire he built with other peoples’ savings, demands an apology from our Attorney General, and scornfully tells us we could take back the National Honour we had once bestowed upon him.

These are three little threads that form part of the rope which binds us to our corruption, arrogance and total lack of any sense of patriotism or decency for country or society.

A police sergeant, sworn to uphold the law, has his household supported by his Matron wife stealing goods from the hospital. He, of all people, sees nothing wrong with this “fringe benefit” his wife has ascribed to herself. And it is the fault of Peter O’Connor and Emile Elias that this catastrophe has befallen his household. He, like thousands, had this “right”, this “all ah we t’ief” attitude to theft and morality. But he would not understand this. Do you?

A school teacher, now seven years on, may be wondering about the seventeen year old who just murdered someone she knew. But he could have learned this senseless bravado when that teacher inexplicably told him to disobey reasonable authority and strut his power into a life of wrongdoing. That teacher bears a huge responsibility in how she misdirected the lives of, undoubtedly, dozens of young men, into defiance and violence. But she would not understand this. Do you?

An icon of our corporate world, a major player in insurance and banking, among much else, a man who we are “conditioned” to trust, and invest our pensions in his schemes, sees his follies cause a collapse and then cons a government into promising to “rescue” the situation, giving all the victims their money back. But the icon gives nothing! He has done no wrong, and he is not going to answer to anyone for the damage he has caused. And he is not paying back a cent so far! He pretends he does not understand what he has done. Do you?

This is who we are folks, and make no bones about it. From the little thugs we raise, to the people at every level stealing from the State, to our corporate icons, we accept that T&T is a trough full to the top for us all to gorge our greed even as our bellies are full.

All of the persons who gambled with Duprey’s schemes tell us that they were entitled to full compensation from the State. That is their right, the same “right” of the hospital matron, and the “right” of the teacher to instruct the little boys to disobey. These are “rights” we have, to steal, to cheat, to disobey, and to declare our defiance about it.

So nothing should surprise us anymore, whether it is the government plotting via e-mails to subvert justice, or the opposition fabricating a whole mess of lies. Both are now plausible scenarios. This is where we are right now, and where we belong. The roots of corruption, scheming and crime are deep in our native soil, feeding the body politic, the corporate sector and everyone else.

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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