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In my small corner

By Martin Daly

 Many years ago when Vision 2020 was first touted and 30-odd sub committees were being formed I took the position that I would not be interested in participating unless there was a committee on civilisation.

I gave as an example of our lack of civilisation the common occurrence of the bodies of fatal accident victims being left on the road for hours until a district medical officer arrived to view the body.

This occurrence was symbolic of an indifference prevailing among officialdom to the treatment of citizens of our republic.

The failure to seek any justice for the death of Akiel Chambers was an even more prominent example of an establishment that was indifferent to wrongdoing, even when children were brutalised.

A Prime Minister underlined this indifference when he described the shooting death of a young woman outside Movietowne as “collateral damage”. I wrote several columns lamenting that our rulers were unfeeling kings.

As my columns were published one person, well ensconced in the establishment, told me that I was a nihilist. It was his protest against my maintaining that as an electorate our political choices were really illusionary and that neither side had a vision to reverse the indifference and the damaging consequences of it. Perhaps his comfort zone was being disturbed.

I maintained my opinion because I firmly believed that our choice was Bim or Bam, who were not differentiated by knowledge on our part of any principles or issues for which either stood. If there was any shred of rational difference, it was submerged beneath shouts of “you tief” and “you tief more”.

While this political condition prevailed and juicy money was being made through shady State procurement, the society was declining at an alarming rate.

Between elections, the requirements for prudence and probity in the conduct of the peoples’ business are lowered further and further, week, by week. We have now reached another low water mark with the proclamation that admittedly “injudicious” behaviour as a director is ok for the chairperson of a State-owned bank.

Hopefully the Minister of Finance, himself a former banker, does not share this view and will not practice indifference in order to preserve the status of the favourites of the current political establishment, and what of our ambitions to be a finance centre?

I did not take on the nihilist jibe. I understand nihilism to have two limbs. The first is skepticism about prevailing norms and practices. The second is a belief that nothing much has any value and life is senseless.

Nothing I have said or written suggests that life is senseless. On the contrary, this column has consistently advocated that we appreciate, invest in, elevate and nurture the many talents that the country has. I have specifically identified sources of hope but I very early forewarned against the consequences of the outrageous indifference to promoting any level of civilisation.

Now we have deteriorated so far that, one by one, my fellow columnists in all three daily newspapers are also railing against our sorry state, questioning what is happening to us and lamenting moral decay and cruel fantasy prevailing over reality.

I assume that by now it is no longer considered nihilistic (not that it ever was) to reject root and branch inadequate norms by which constitutional and political power is won and exercised.

It is sad to be marking firmly a decline that may become terminal on an Easter Sunday when resurrection and a promise of eternal life is being celebrated; but sad and inconvenient truth though it is, some of us saw this coming and bore the occasional shunning and sanction.

So, in the spirit of Easter, I would like to turn to the Sunday school hymn of exhortation which refers to the bidding of Jesus to try and make a difference: “Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light, like a little candle burning in the night in this world of darkness. So let us shine—You in your small corner and I in mine.”

It was a conversation with a trusted compere that reminded me of the small corner that each of us inhabits. Distressed by the current state of things and the fact that others, not bought and sold into silence, could see the extent of the decline, I had sought a reality check.

He said in the course of the conversation that, as so many persons had accepted the blurring of right and wrong, he felt that the corner containing everything with which he was compatible had become so small.

Can I ask again,in the interest of the resurrection of a civilised way of life, that those able to put on a light in their corner stop playing safe with the politicians and urgently put on a light in their not so small corner to banish the darkness of compromising silence? We require both sides to up their game.

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