The pursuit of self vs self-respect
Whatever sceptics like myself will say at this time of celebration, we have much to be thankful for in this country and which we often take for granted. For example, we were virtually indifferent to weather system Isaac, while our neighbours reeled in fear and others would pay later, as if God is truly a Trini.
Still on safety, even as criminals are threatening to spoil it, we can still walk the street, while elsewhere a suicide bomber can end your life in a second; here also, you work and you are paid, if even you did not work, while in other places "subsistence" is the substitute for "salary".
Again in this country, you can sit in your "hall" or living room and enjoy family, while elsewhere "family" is a two-by-four refugee tent: here, a child is going to school in September while elsewhere he is a soldier in waiting with a gun bigger than himself; here too, you can worship as you will, but elsewhere you meet your maker sooner than later if you dare to offend another.
And there are other " blessings", but these have been selected because they are "basic" survival privileges we enjoy in this country, for which others long and for which we should be thankful.
But man cannot live to merely survive. "Survival of the fittest" is for the beasts of the field—which we are not! Our humanity is a gift which takes us beyond mere survival. It endows us with an intellect, which if allowed to develop, can help us to be more progressive in our thinking, and by extension in our lives and the national community of which we are a part.
Sadly, however, this intellectual development is stymied by a politics which thrives on our continuing simplemindedness and ignorance, which deludes us into seeing tribe as our means to self-realisation as against a kind of co-existential oneness as becomes a multi-ethnic society; into making the pursuit of self instead of self-respect our guiding mantra, no moral and ethical constraint barring; into showing a preference for appearances and passing fancies as a substitute for sober reflection and interrogation of the people and issues which impact our lives.
Maybe this is part of our growth process as a nation reminiscent of the infant "mewling and puking in the nurse's arms" in Shakespere's "seven ages" of man (As You Like It, Act II, Sc VII, 139-160), presumably delighting in colour and flashes dangling in its face, soon, however, to see the true light and be able to tell the difference. If such is the case, then we have hope yet!
Dr Errol Benjamin