Monday, January 22, 2018

Danger in excluding an entire class of people

Trinidad is still a beautiful country. Despite our many flaws, it is still a beautiful country. However, it is interesting that despite our introspection we always focus on the politics of race, which can be a deadly flaw for our heterogeneous society.

As a young person growing up, I did not see race but different people with interesting backgrounds and cultures; cultures which enriched us all. But that is my perspective.

With increasing maturity I began to realise race became an issue when people felt their basic needs of security were satisfied and they began to be upwardly mobile, and political parties and institutions began using our differences—our greatest strength—against us for their own personal interests.

But as Black Stalin said, “suffere­rs have no race”.

Material success can change us in many ways—some subtle and some obtrusive. Have you ever started to feel uncomfortable going to places where before you had not been concerned?

The question for me was why, and my personal revelation was although we were living in one physical country, Trinidad and Tobago, people live in distinct and different Trinidad-and-Tobagos, each with a different value system.

The biggest problem is that the groups of people who belong to the Trinidad and Tobago within the lower, middle and elite economic classes have similar, although diverse, value systems. However, there is a group that is not considered part of society and is excluded from the economic discourse and must be “contained”.

Are we at risk of losing the character that made us unique in the Caribbean? Perhaps it is a function of our macro-economic policy that people are defined by their utility, which leads to the growing lack of respect for others. Violence is on the rise and stories of inequality are accepted as par for the course.

Statistics may indicate how many people are under the pover­ty line, but it does not show how many people struggle to live and the indignity of their condition. But it does not matter since we are no longer shocked and we have become indifferent to any human suffering, except our own; when we are shocked we build bigger jails, higher walls and buy bigger guns.

July 1990 was a conflagration of factors. Since then, have we addressed these factors? Until we deal with these issues affecting our people, we continue to lose generations and plough and fertilise the seeds of the destruction of our Trinidadian society.

We naively tell those margi­nalised and excluded that better days are coming, but how long can we expect them to wait?

Michael Merritt

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