Geezers' promoting rage and war
By Raffique Shah
March 21, 2010
A seething rage has gripped this country in a manner we have never before seen. It's frightening. Ever since I was a boy, I learned that the vast majority of our people have what I can only describe as a delightful sense of humour. But for a few 'sourpusses', we laugh at everything-from ourselves to pranks people play on us to remarks made by others that we find hilarious. For all our shortcomings, our weaknesses, Trinidadians and Tobagonians are generally a fun people.
Now I am growing increasingly concerned over the undisguised rage I see, from top to bottom. I can easily empathise with the collective ire of citizens who, not having had water for months, turn delirious and vent their rage by blocking roadways and burning rubble to force the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to do what the utility ought to have done in the first place. It's easy to understand why villagers in remote districts or those in urban areas would vociferously protest the conditions of their roads.
But these are fleeting, justifiable expressions of outrage (more than rage) that subside as soon as the authorities rectify their problems. The masses have learned it takes burning tyres and other debris for them to get within hours what ministries and other government agencies fail to deliver in years.
That kind of rage I understand. What I cannot understand is the mindset of criminal gangs that, say, raid a Belmont house and shoot and kill everything that moves, even the family dog. I envisage the leader of the 'posse' briefing his shooters before the action: 'When we finish wid dem, not a soldier must be left standing!'
When, however, this kind of mindless rage reaches into the upper echelons of society, when it seethes in Parliament only to explode on political platforms, we need to take stock of just where this country is heading.
I used to think that only Basdeo Panday saw himself as a kind of 'political capo', venting his spleen with facial contortions that made him look more constipated than angry. He would snarl, bite and threaten. He took to wearing a red beret on platforms-signs of someone who always fantasised being a soldier but never got the opportunity when he was of combat age.
Now an old geezer, he donned the beret. He was lauded and applauded by some of the very people who later turned around and booted his backside out of his own house. No one had the guts to tell him: 'Olds, take it easy nah! Your battling days are long gone. Your best bet is to wear a cowboy hat, mount a jackass and ride off into the sunset!'
No, they didn't-none of them. They applauded his antics, the one-time king of the court turned jester. They didn't have the balloons to tell him the lion had reached his winter and that he should go in peace rather than end up in pieces.
Today a similar, if not identical, scenario is being enacted by Patrick Manning and the People's National Movement (PNM). A once gentle young man, Manning has morphed into a raging old bull. Worse for him, he does not realise his own dilemma. Maybe strange voices are telling him he is a born-again 'Patrick the Great', that he is ready to conquer the world, or maybe just the Eastern Caribbean!
When I looked at the Prime Minister of this country declare war against local contractors, I saw in his features and fulminations a Model 2010 Hitler, almost to the proverbial 'H'. His storm troopers wore red; Hitler's wore brown or black. But their 'causes' and tactics were similar. Attack the enemy inside their homes, if you must cross the cross! Stamp on the black and brown cockroaches that are making The Chief's life hell!
In his twilight years, when he should be thinking of playing with his grandchildren, Manning wants to go to war! What childish fantasies these old geezers seize upon as their minds degenerate. Hey, I am a trained soldier, one of the best in my day, as those who served with me would attest to. But those glory days are far behind me now. Having reached geezer status (the PM and I are same age), I would not make a fool of myself by marching down my street like the shell-shocked 'Mickey', whistling bugle calls.
True, soldiers never die-only their privates do. But responsible old servicemen have a duty to advise the young that war is never a first option, that war is always hell. Instead, besides belting out blood-curdling battle-cries, Manning is setting benchmark behaviour for the likes of Marlene McDonald. That woman comes across as someone who cannot engage in a civil conversation. She seems incapable of being polite.
How can these leaders counsel the young to think rationally, to 'chill out' rather than fall victims to uncontrollable rage? Misleading by example, they instead portray rage and war as acceptable conduct. At a time when we should be a leading light to the region, if not the world, we are descending into the netherworld of darkness. Why are we surprised at the rage exhibited by the young and daring?
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