Friday, February 23, 2018

Running out of breath

For some time the population has been holding its breath in the hope that things will settle down and the country will be able to go about its business as usual.

But things have been anything but “usual”. During the past few months, tragic and disturbing events have taken place which have rocked and shocked the nation.

Whenever a tragedy or calamity has occurred, we have been reminded that the stress caused by the particular incident will pass and that we must move on.

While these words of comfort have provided some solace for those who have been placed under tremendous pressure, the reality is that matters appear to be getting worse and we are at the point at which mere words are insufficient to calm a nation that feels it is under constant threat.

The level of paranoia is so high that lies are able to travel miles before facts are able to catch up and lay the falsehoods to rest.

It is a sellers’ market for all traders of untruths and they are raking in the money by the millions.

Our society must take full blame for allowing itself to be manipulated by those with ugly agendas. Currently we have hit an all-time low having lost the ability to separate fact from fiction.

Last Friday, what began as a prank turned into a serious matter when word was spread throughout Port of Spain that there was a pending coup.

It is reported that the misinformation went viral on social media, resulting in hundreds of workers fleeing the city before the alleged coup occurred.  By the time the matter was brought under control with official word from the Minister of Communications Senator Vasant Bharath quelling rumours of an impending attack on the democracy of the country, many persons were already traumatised, genuinely believing that another 1990 was at hand.

Certainly, those responsible for spreading the malicious old talk fall squarely into the category of persons that this Minister has previously described, on a completely different matter, as “merchants of mischief”. The fact remains however, that people were panicked enough to take action when the word of a coup was spread.

Although  many would understandably  argue that Trinis would do anything to  run away from work, the reality is that our society feels so much at risk that it takes little or nothing to frighten the average citizen and the pranksters exploit the situation.

And because citizens are trained to connect imaginary dots, it is easy for a substantial fraction of the population to be victims of exaggerated truths and matters blown out of proportion. It is little wonder that citizens have not yet gone insane bearing in mind the madness that we face on a daily basis.

We have gone from bad to worse in record time and it seems that we are spinning, if we have not yet spun, out of control. One must feel sorry for the leader of this country who has been outing fires on a regular basis because there are forces bent on causing destruction rather than building the nation.

All hell appears to have broken loose with standards falling and improper conduct becoming the norm.

This has made the job of those fighting for justice even more difficult.

While there has always been a concern about the brain drain amongst our young professionals and academics, now more than ever there seems to be little incentive to encourage these brilliant minds to stay in their country and work for the national good.

The young generation is starving for mentors and exemplars and we are losing our youth to those who glamorise the life of crime.

I am not suggesting, as interpreted by some readers last week, that we are devoid of patriotic and talented young people, but if the present trend continues, such individuals who can make a positive contribution will be in the minority and in a more disadvantaged position to take the country forward. 

As it stands, the entire country is living in fear and despite the best efforts of the diminishing number of persons who are prepared to do all within their power to provide a safe and secure environment, the criminal element has gained significant strength.  

The criminals know that the law abiding citizens are terrified and the former are using all the deficiencies in the law enforcement and justice agencies to ensure that they are not brought before the courts.

While we are holding our breaths, these outlaws are laughing at our high level of discomfort. It is all a game for them and they are enjoying torturing the nation.

In order to restore justice, those brave enough to take on the bandits must be given the support and tough decisions have to be made if we are to win the war against crime.

It is not about scoring political points but rescuing a country that is under siege.

Citizens will be patient provided that those in authority are prepared to implement without delay, policies and plans that will address societal ills and restore public trust and confidence.

All persons who are Trinbagonians to the bone do not want to witness our beloved nation go to the dogs, so we continue to hold our breaths while the reparative work is being conducted.

That being said, however, citizens are anxious to exhale because we are definitely running out of breath.

• Gillian Lucky is an attorney-at-law and presenter of the television programme Just Gill