Monday, August 27, 2012


Birthdays are essentially markers of time ... 'I have now been on the planet for X years' ... and are always a great time for reflection ... even for nations. And a fiftieth birthday is a significant marker, and one which should rightly be celebrated. There are several ways of looking at this particular birthday ... what have I accomplished in my 50 years on the planet? Where am I right now in this particular phase of my life? Where do I want to be? Have I achieved the goals and ambitions that I wanted to when I was younger? I could go on, but you get the point.

Except for the names and a few other obvious changes, the same questions can apply to the fiftieth birthday of a nation. Where were we fifty years ago in terms of our development? Where are we now? Have we fulfilled our potential? What mistakes did we make along the way? Have we recognised our mistakes? Are we moving to correct them? Are we on the right path for the future? If not, why not? If so, are we doing the best that we can in all of the circumstances, or could we be doing better?

I am certain that many of my readers will be able to add more questions requiring answers and introspection that are (or may be) even more pertinent than those listed above. My list is not intended to be all encompassing, but merely a guide as to the type of questions that we should all be asking ourselves as we approach the 31st August. I am going to try and answer ... or at least give my 'take'  on some of them, but, again, do not offer these views either as gospel nor as necessarily correct. They are simply my own personal views and are proffered as such. In so doing, you may notice that I have tried very hard not to be either political or overtly critical of either past or present regimes. The reason for this is because I believe that right now what is needed more than anything else is cool, calm and clear reasoning ... which I am well aware, has never defeated blinding emotions!

Starting with where we have come from: the truth is that we have come a long way. Fifty years ago there was no sharing of the national pie or cake the way that there is today. More citizens are better off today than they were fifty years ago. But, (and it is a big "but") there is today a greater level of dissatisfaction with the quality of life than there was fifty years ago. Perhaps it is because people are generally better educated than they were fifty years ago? Or maybe it is because the promises of politicians over the years have not been kept? Or maybe it is because there is a feeling that we could have done a lot better? Or maybe it is all of these things and more? But it is clear that if you go throughout Trinidad & Tobago today almost everyone you meet will complain about the quality of life and how he/she feels that things are not as good as they could or should be.

So, have we recognised our past mistakes? Because, if we haven't, then we certainly can't fix them! You could argue that we have and that is why over the years we have elected and removed various governments because they had failed us. On the other hand, you could argue that we haven't because the fact is that we have been unable to change the mindset of our politicians who, once they get into office, behave exactly as their predecessors did. My answer to that criticism would be that this is more a fault of our Constitution and that as a people we have failed to have any intelligent discussion on constitutional reform. In fact, I will go so far as to say that unless and until we discuss constitutional reform in a meaningful way that every single complaint that we have today and had yesterday, we will have tomorrow regardless of who is in power.

Could we do better? Oh yes! Definitely! But you must remember that there are in this little twin island republic many entrenched 'status quos' , and the problem becomes more acute when you recognise that the slightest suggestion for change always means death to some 'status quo'.

To quote Shakespeare, "the fault dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves"!

So, I say happy birthday T&T. May we all go forward towards that "shining city on the hill" that we all so aspire to achieve. In the words of the calypsonian, "we can make it if we try".

1 comment:

  1. Dear Robin,
    Happy Birthday to T&T. !n 1962 the middle class was small. The majority of the
    population was poor financially or slightly above poverty. They had no time to criticize the
    government in power. They were busy looking after their own wellbeing in an honest manner.
    They have improved themselves socially, educationally and financially. But today the situation
    is different. There is money for the criminals and those who are not prepared to
    work for a living. They do not care. They will destroy the country, the gov't., anybody.
    There is another section. They are in the middle class. They are educated, ambitious
    and hunting for political power. They believe T&T belongs to them. They also will do anything
    even if it means destroying the gov't or damaging the image of this country. There is
    another section which has no love for this country. Just as they came here they will
    leave with $$$ all over the world. The will suck the lifeblood out of this country and
    pretend to be national heroes. Then there is the majority, a band of true patriots. They are law abiding,
    hardworking, loyal, honestly charitable and kind. They love their cricket, football, fetes,
    sea and sand. They are trini to the bone. But they will not articulate their views. In such
    a scenario it is easy for the wrong people to rule this land. Your Blog is necessary.