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Normalizing Non-sense

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 22, 2016

One of our problems in Trinidad and Tobago is our attempt, sometimes, to normalize non-sense and call it wisdom. Take the non-sense offered by Joan Yuille-Williams that Patrick Manning called the 2010 election to expand our democracy or that by so doing he expanded our democratic possibilities. Not content with such non-sense she threw God into the mix as if to say, "God make him do it."

Now there is non-sense, common-sense and in-cense. Non-sense revolves around the proposition that the actions someone takes does not accord with what the average/normal person seems to make, as my sister would say, "any good sense." Hence, one is acting stupidly.

Common-sense has to do with the ability to judge things in a way that is coherent and worthy of serious consideration. It involves a feeling that a person's action is reasonable and is likely to result in a good outcome.

In-cense (my punning) is a variation of the same theme. It has to do with the dulling of the senses by any poisonous ology. Inhaled in correct doses it allows one to believe that one possesses a special pipeline to God. It also helps if one has an intermediary through whom one speaks directly with God.

In her recent memorial address, Yuille-Williams argued that Manning "gave voters a choice, and they made it in keeping with their own reading of the facts. Manning ... let the voters choose. He was not foolish. He was the ultimate democrat. He believed that God would lead voters to make the correct choice and give him a mandate, just as ANR Robinson had chosen him after the 18-18 election tie" (Selwyn Ryan, Express, August 12).

Given such magnanimity, PNMites should not blame Manning for the loss of the 2010 election. Williams says: "People should blame themselves for not choosing him.... A number of people blame Patrick Manning for the loss of the election. I stand here on this platform and say: 'No. I don't. I don't blame him at all. It worries me all the time when I hear people say it. He was a man of principles.'" (Express, August 12).

Not content with such non-sense, Ms. Emily Dick-Forde went a step farther and "repented on behalf of the nation for the wrongs that were perpetuated on [Calder] Hart and Manning, hoping that one day 'the light will be turned on and many would be made ashamed" (My emphasis, Guardian, August 12.)

So, "People get ready, there's a train a comin'/You don't need a ticket, you just thank the Lord."

What, indeed, can any rational person make of these heart-rending affirmations of faith? Manning allowed his ego to get the better of him. He felt he was God's chosen one so he acted in an irrational manner. Anytime one believes that of the 7 billion people on earth, God seeks him out to talk to him exclusively, one knows that such a person is on the road to self-destruction.

Manning had become so drunk by his own foolishness that he really believed he was speaking to and on behalf of God. In 2007, when Benny Hinn, another fraudulent character, came to Trinidad, in the fullness of his in-cense, Manning told Hinn that he had his own seer-woman and didn't need him to intercede with God anymore.

Hinn called Manning a "foolish man." (YouTube, August 6, 2009.)

Manning explained: "I take her with me everywhere....God speaks to me through her. She has been a great blessing to the Government. I'm thinking [about Hinn] 'You foolish man.'"

Benny became incensed. He refused to meet Manning's prophetess. How dare Manning replace him (Hinn) in this business of his interceding with God?

That incident made many pause. One knew that Manning had imbibed the wrong doses of non-sense and had given himself over to spiritual death.

People knew Manning had lost touch with reality. He had inhaled too much incense, the whiff of which was pulling him in directions they knew would lead to disaster. It does not help to prettify this non-sense in which Manning engaged in his last days.

Those who live by the sword die by the sword; those who inhale too much incense become giddy and thereby betray their God-given talents. While all of us should listen to that still presence within us and follow the dictates of our faiths, we cannot burden the world with our anxieties that transcend rational and commonsensical discourse.

At the end of 2010 Manning became incensed with power for which he and his party paid dearly politically. There is no need neither to blame the nation nor to repent for using our common-sense. Manning's story might just be the tale of a mortal man who forgot his mortality.

And therein lies the fate of Solomon Gundy.

Professor Cudjoe's email address is He can be reached @ProfessorCudjoe.

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