Governing by the words of Thomas Jefferson
Increasingly, I have been reflecting on the quality of leadership which prevails in the seven major institutions in Trinidad and Tobago—family, community, religion, academia, business, media and government. My findings so far have not been encouraging.
Wherever, I look I see an absence of vision, inspiration, collaboration, and meaningful patriotism. Almost all actors seem to be concerned only with self. Everybody now wants to drive in an expensive SUV or luxury vehicle, own several houses or at least one big mansion, with all modern furniture, gadgets and facilities. Indeed, everyone is now fascinated with foreign travel.
Because of limited space, I now shall apply my comments specifically to the institution of government. While there is much that I can write about the role and impact of good government, I am satisfied in this letter to share some words of wisdom from the second vice-president and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Listen to him: “...a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it [should earn]”.
It seems to me that—and I say this without malice or prejudice—the present political directorate is failing to provide a realistic vision for the nation, inspiration for a clear way forward on today’s competitive global landscape and a framework for meaningful citizen collaboration and patriotism. Furthermore, I cannot truthfully say our present political directorate can come out with flying colours under the scrutiny of Thomas Jefferson. Before other political parties express unnecessary glee, let me hasten to add that no political party in the history of Trinidad and Tobago since 1962 would pass Jefferson’s scrutiny with distinction. All have fallen short of the glory of Jefferson.
By way of conclusion, my words of advice are that all parties which are determined to govern—at local or national level—Trinidad and Tobago should integrate the words of Thomas Jefferson into their manifesto or political philosophy. Indeed, it is critical that we as a people observe what has been taking place in the world. So far, we have been fortunate. How long can we escape unscathed?
Raymond S Hackett