Pour Encourager les Autres

I had my first coup d’etat at around 4 years old. It was 1990 and a local terrorist organization clumsily tried to take over Trinidad & Tobago from one of our only upstanding leaders, ANR Robinson, who recently passed-away. Shots were fired, people died. Robinson had a gun staring him in the face and still motioned an attack with full force; he was subsequently shot in the leg. Those were the days. When the captain at the helm led with civilized integrity, risking all for the greater good. Today, the cretinous top of that self-same terrorist pyramid is a free man, and crime is a powerful unstoppable force in our little republic. The dark side is not cowering in defeat, it’s flourishing with help from the purported current leadership. With the death of Robinson, it was like the last gust of dignified air escaped the balloon above, the only thing keeping us from crashing to the ground. We have nothing, as the operator of said vessel i.e. the current leader, really likes her juice. I’m sad, for the potential of my people being squandered by such powerful incompetence. I’ve always been desensitized by violence, i’ve lived a stone’s throw away from it as long as i can remember. I had street smarts i didn’t know i had, i would watch foreign friends who grew up in the cushiness of the first world step in dangerous territory with this milk-tooth fascination, whether it be seedy individuals or an even seedier part of town. Even a few teachers at my international school were doomed by their prairie naiveté. I remember a European friend regaling me with his scary experiences after moving to “little Trinidad” in Brooklyn, NYC. Gunshots and curry goat. There it was, that fascination. I laughed, silly white boy.

I’ve been back a few months and recently faced a cavalcade of police cars as i drove to work past our Country Club; an old plantation estate, a once coveted childhood haunt, that is now decrepit and falling to rubble. History means nothing here, the present even less. Sirens blaring and lights pulsing at two in the afternoon. I’d just driven past 5 mins ago, what could have possibly occurred? I found out later, shots were fired, a man was dead albeit a gang member but still, a mess was made on the sidewalk. A blood puddle seeping down the walkway marked primitively by two stones, blood from stone. It’s too good a metaphor to pass up and apologetically my frankness is a reflection of that desensitization i mentioned previously. I felt no sympathy for the man that died, only anger at the criminal progenitor to come. His death makes no difference or dent, our crime wave has evolved into a Hydra. Cut one head, two more grow in its place. A problem caused by our irresponsible governance and the disease of “community programs” an idea they inflicted on our lower, uneducated classes. In opposition to education initiatives, they throw funds at elected community leaders. Now these people are not schooled or sufficient but yet are given upwards of six figures to improve their residential area. We citizens are investing in the inferior. You give a starving lion a carcass all to himself, will he share? No. As Syrus stated; “Poverty wants much but avarice everything.” What fights avarice? Morality and what aids morality?…Education. Even that can be argued but in this case, it’s a workable alternative.

But, pittance is given towards societal improvement and the rest is invested in the drug trade and from that, gang formation and a veritable deadly armory at their disposal. Instead of a park, a criminal syndicate. They kill, they rob. They are funded by the government. Blood is on their hands, the Hydra sits outside their door. We have an army but all they do is cause traffic. A traffic i sat in, blindly vengeful staring at the congealed criminal blood near me. Why haven’t they cleaned it up? A government motorcade passes and I flip them off. I no longer care. We are pre-Giuliani, we are Johannesburg, we are Escobar’s Colombia. We are fucked if they don’t wash the blood off, more will come but it’s a start right?  I drove past the next day, the blood was there, black from the scorching sun. The next day, the blood is there still. Elections are on the horizon and the alternative is even worse than what we have now if that’s possible. The solutions are laid bare at our feet but the right proprietors are not. Even if good is to come, those future leaders are sitting at a broken school desk in a hot classroom with an absent teacher. Without change, they may grow up to leave more red cells on the sidewalk.

In Voltaire’s Candide his characters, upon witnessing the execution of an admiral for shoddy leadership, utter the famous line; Pour Encourager les Autres meaning; “to encourage the others.” It’s an ironic sentiment meant to enliven proactivity. Leave it to the French. So how do we do the same? What will it take to hasten our pathetic admirals? All I know is it will be harder than drawing blood from a stone or washing it off.

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