Sunday, March 9, 2014

After Carnival - the Peter O'Connor Commentary

One of the drawbacks (or maybe the prime benefit?) of spending a few days incommunicado in the forest is the sense of bewilderment of current affairs when you return to the world of “news”. In the now normally connected world, I can connect to Newsday from any foreign land, or even stream radio or television and know what is happening in my homeland at any time.

There are really two “shocks” to face when you come out of the bush. The first is the noise and the road rage mounting the closer you get to Port of Spain, and the sense of impatience and anger emanating from everyone you meet. 

The other is the realization that carnival has passed, and you don’t know anything about it! Who won what? Who is disputing the winners? Who cares? Of course I am titillated by the media and face book pictures of beautiful Trini women enjoying themselves, and want to promise that “next year, fuh’ carnival, I coming back to play”.

Look, I could not even leave the bush and return to Babylon direct! I took the precaution of pausing at Asa Wright Nature Centre for the days following carnival, adjusting, like a deep sea diver coming up from the depths, to civilization, step by step. I returned to the city on Friday afternoon, and hope that this step by step return has reduced the sense of shock that increasingly buffets me the closer I get to what now passes for civilization.

But what now, T&T? Now that we are sober, and the music has stopped ringing in our ears, and we cooled down at Maracas or wherever, and we did not go back to work or even send our children back to school, what are we going to do? 

Oh yes, you will return to your jobs, not necessarily to work, and your children will go back to school, and everyone will tell each other that it was the best carnival ever, or that carnival dead, and all the carnival stakeholders will postpone their analyses until next year January when they are sober and have forgotten where and how they failed in 2014.

But what can we do now, after carnival? Now that we should have recovered from the fete, or the few of us from the rapture of solitude in the wilderness, can we step up and start to improve our country? Or our community, or street, or just our home and family life? Or at work, just discover the elation of really doing a good job of whatever you do? Can you, if you are a Christian, give up something really meaningful for Lent? Like greed, and selfishness, or littering, or gossiping and bad talking people?

If you give up something like chocolates or roti for Lent, then soon after Easter, you will begin indulging again. 

But if you give up selfishness, or bad talking people, or littering you may find that you do not need to indulge in those degradations any more when Lent is over. And you may be surprised at how good you feel about yourself as you realize that you are becoming a better person. And you could have enjoyed chocolates and roti all through Lent!

And if you can begin to become a better person, you will soon find that people begin to respond and react to you in better ways. Family, friends and colleagues pick up on good vibes just as they pick up on the bad ones, and your being positive about whatever you are doing will create positive feeling around you. We all know that if you approach a task, whether alone or as part of a team, with a negative attitude, you will either fail or do a poor job. But if you approach the task believing that you can achieve the goal, then you will.

Negativity abounds in our lives. We embrace it and we nurture it. Bright people have to leave T&T to fulfill their talents and goals, and this should not be. We conform rigidly to laws, rules and customs which have been discarded everywhere, because we fear the freedom that change might bring. And the enduring tragedy for all of us is that our leaders, in every endeavour are committed to the status quo, because that is what gives them “Control”, and gives them the status and the right to posture in officialdom, stultifying all of us with their pomposity.

Our country needs all the behavioural help it can get. And it is not going to get help from “foreign”, and certainly not from the leaders we put in parliament, or in business, or labour or the churches.

After carnival you need to start to make the difference and bring the changes—from the ground up.

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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