On reflection at the beginning of this New Year, there is some merit in Colin Frith's recent letter to the editor concurring with the findings of the poll that we are indeed the fifth happiest people in the world.
After all, when the average Trini at one level was enjoying a rum—indeed a Black—and a ponche de crème with parang or chutney to go with it, and at another, some were either at the Hilton or at the Hyatt dinning on shrimps, steak and lobster, elsewhere, some were facing the uncertainty of a suicide bomber as in the Mid-East, or the prospect of mortar shells invading their homes as in Syria, or somewhere in Equatorial Africa or even in India on a bus, a soldier rapist or a group of retards ready to strike at the dreams of innocence.
The letter goes beyond the happiness of Christmas. Dominating his list of criteria for our happiness as a people is the all pervasive word "free" —free tuition, free books free lunches, free bus rides, free hampers, free food, free houses in some instances, and I could add to this, the common practice of "free wuk" depending on who you know.
How progressive it would be for us to earn our happiness by working for what we enjoy, like the sacrifice our parents made for our schooling or building a house through thrift and discipline or our giving a fair day's work for a fair day's pay rather than running down the clock or leaning on our shovels or sleeping at our desks, or trying to advance our careers through hard work rather patronage.
Happiness through hard work is the means to our dignity, our self- realisation. Any other form as that based on Colin Frith's "freeness'' pales as an alternative.
Dr Errol Benjamin