Curfew done, but it’s too soon to…
Curfew done. Praise de Lawd. Hallelujah. If you’re guilty of shouting this when the honourable prime minister announced that the curfew had been lifted, doh feel guilty. I did it too. Doh mind I eh go a place to lime as yet, and, since then, I’ve always been home before 11 p.m.
Between the celebratory reflex actions and simultaneous grumblings, because we aren’t really free, I got to thinking about all the things that some of us have been too quick to do. Let’s start with the obvious.
Jump up for joy and lime with abandon
Have you seen Ariapita Avenue since the curfew was lifted? What has South or Arima been like? Looooook at people dey!
The whole reaction to the curfew being lifted reminds me of animals being let loose from a cage. Freedom they think, in that moment of instant gratification, not realising that there are still snipers and hunters out there waiting to get them. In our case, the bandits and murderers are the hunters, and while the police may not have paid mind to Minister Volney’s previous, giddy-headed comment that people caught outside of the curfew would be shot on sight, let’s admit it, most of us are even less trusting and even less excited to see a police officer.
We’re not free; we just have a bigger backyard to run in. The fact that the state of emergency is in effect means yuh still have no rights. You know that. I know that. As a friend said, on Facebook, “One handcuff has been removed, yet the other one remains… Should I celebrate? Should I be thankful? Or should I continue to fight for the removal of the other?”
Fall for the same tricks
On another level, this whole thing reminds me of Aristotle’s days, BC, when the aristocrats decided that they knew what was best for the plebs (middle and lower class), and they’d play little mind games or use tough tactics to keep them in order.
Every regime in T&T has always played the game of distraction. We’re so distracted by the thought of jumping in our cars to go for a doubles or to the club, that we don’t realise that these periods of distraction are when some bills pass through Parliament, and when the majority of us – who would be just as incensed as “activists” over their contents – would barely stop to make a ruckus about it. Do you know about the DNA bill? Are you still watching the news, now that you have entertainment options? Do you remember the Facebook note a friend or two posted, listing exactly what a state of emergency entails? Did you ever get around to learning more about the constitution, which you told yourself you just had to do, when the SOE was first called?
Forget to think about the future
I’ll be honest. I’m one of those who are caught up in their own life – busy, busy, busy, as a bee. So much so that it’s really easy to go about life as usual. The problem is that we’re not living as usual.
We’re unsure about the future of our country. We’re unsure about what succession in politics looks like for T&T. We’re unsure of whether the state of emergency will even be lifted, because everything is being evaluated, as we go along. We’re unsure of whether the curfew will be reinstated. Let a week pass by, and we have five murders, it may bloody well happen.
Yes, the majority of us haven’t had police banging down our doors, yanking us to cramped jail cells, at two in the morning, and thankfully we don’t have any Gaddafis in government; but just because the removal of our rights hasn’t reached apocalyptic, critical mass, that doesn’t mean we should be lulled into a state of complacency. Maybe this is why the curfew was probably seen as an inconvenience at best, and not a threat to freedom. It was just about a physical leash.
Personally, I never like to criticise, and say Trinis doh care, Trinis like it so, and all that jazz, so I’m not going to. I have no idea as to where the answer for a better future comes from. I have no idea, as to whether we’ll ever get governance that we can be 75% pleased with.
What I do know is that this is a crucial juncture, where amidst all the liming that we love, that we should be stopping and thinking, before operating by reflex. Where we should forget about political allegiance, and saying “Mannin’ woulda never do dis”, or “Kamla doing a good job”, and really think about our future, and the value system we want.
The people who will save T&T aren’t the ones who are happily riding around in a benz or beemer. They’re little people like you and I, who can do our civic duty in being watchdogs, who bark AND bite, and show support for those who will actually throw us a bone. And not a dry, tasteless one. A real, meaty one that will make us cocksure when we say T&T is sweet.
Seven days since no curfew, is life better? What do we plan to do when the SOE is lifted? Like I said, I don’t have the answers. But I hope that our generation can further the discussion, and start brainstorming solutions. And as the lawyer and university lecturer, Clarence Rambharat, rightly said in a recent column in the Trinidad Express, this discussion needs to happen before the SOE ends.
Talk is just talk, but what citizens need to decide is whether they will remain quiet about things they aren’t pleased with, or whether they will show that we are a society that does not sit back and let things happen. This is the critical juncture we’re at, because if the SOE ends, Christmas comes, and Carnival plays itself, we’ll just go back to life as usual, accepting whatever is thrown our way.
Check out the rest of this week’s issue (14/11/11; Issue 81):
- Top Ten Outlish Articles for October 2011
- Keegan Simon: 1 Mysterious Individual. By Joshua Ramirez-Wharwood.
- Ian Alleyne: Less Batman, More Booster Gold. By Karel Mc Intosh.
- Confessions of a Church Girl. By Nikeisha Joseph.
Look out for a new issue of Outlish.com every Monday!