When missing Shannon Banfield’s body was found in a building in Port of Spain the nation was outraged, heart-broken, filled with disgust. We have to pray for this country. (8th December, 2016)
When 6 year old Sean Luke was sexually molested, buggered and murdered in a cane field, the nation was outraged, heart-broken, filled with disgust. We have to pray for this country. (28th March, 2006)
When 6 year old Marc Prescott went missing from the front gates of his primary school the nation was outraged when he was never, not to this day, found, the nation was heart-broken, filled with disgust. We have to pray for this country. (May, 2003)
Tonight, a woman, Jamilia Derevenaux, has been gruesomely murdered in the Movie Towne parking lot. (5th February, 2017) #prayforTnT
Can you tell how the nation is reacting?
Hint: The nation is outraged, heart-broken, filled with disgust.
You may as well stop reading here because what I have to say isn’t going to sit well with you. Perhaps it is going to make you more uncomfortable. It doesn’t make me comfortable. It tells me that I’m part of the problem as well.
- We react, over and over and over. Reacting is easy, reacting is emotional, reacting gives us space to mourn. The more we react, the more the burden from the event is reduced. We post Facebook statuses, we talk about how horrible it was, we hashtag ‘prayforTnt’, we carry on.
- Prayer is supposedly powerful so we pray in a response to these things. We pray in our homes, in our cars, in our offices, in our schools, in our places designated for worship. We pray, we pray, we pray. By praying and emphasizing the need for us to be praying, every time we pray, we feel as if we are contributing to the ‘change’. Yet, there is another murder, another kidnapping, another rape.
At what point do we realise that our method isn’t working? At what point do we take this situation into our own hands? A long time ago, when I was a child and there was that kidnapping spree, I expected a revolution, I thought that something would be done. I saw children my age go missing and never return, show up dead, have a hefty ransom staked against their lives. I expected a revolution from the adults because the crime was getting so bad and it was all that the adults spoke about.
That revolution never came.
We prayed, sometimes we marched, we talked some and then we prayed some more. We never had that revolution. I remember talking about migrating with my parents. I remember distinctly driving past Artie’s Meats in Diego Martin and telling my mother that I would not leave because if we left then the bandits were winning. At that time, I didn’t know much about white collar crime. I knew about the sensationalised crimes and the children my age who we disappearing.
I thought that we shouldn’t leave because we should fight back. (If you know me, you know that I am 100% about peace, you know that I can’t even watch shows with violence.) At the time, fighting back didn’t mean physically getting personal access to guns and maze for the citizenry’s personal protection. To me, fighting back meant being vigilant, both fixing the me in criME as well as having the police service work efficiently with all of the tools that they needed.
I didn’t know how corrupt the police service was. I didn’t know that the ones whose job it was to protect and serve were sometimes more interested in protecting criminals and serving their own back pockets. I didn’t know that the judicial system often worked in a way that ensured that only people of certain races would ever end up behind bars. I didn’t know that justice was not always the order of the courts but also under the table cuts and shares. I thought that when someone ran for the office to lead our country they were committed to making our twin island republic a holistically better place. I didn’t know all of these things yet I thought that our country needed a revolution.
Now, I’m twenty-two years old. Now I’m an adult. Now I have those conversations that I used to listen to as a child. Now I have a five year old god-daughter who is listening to those conversations that I(we) have. Soon enough, she too will realise how bad things are in our country. Soon enough, she’ll know the things that I know and then, soon enough she too will be an adult.
Now I’m an adult and when I think about crime in Trinidad and Tobago, I think about a body. I think about a body that has a severely damaged brain. That body cannot function effectively, slowly, it won’t be able to function at all. Unfortunately, our twin island state is not a body; we cannot disconnect the life support and let that body die. We can’t because we are the body, and the trees are the body, and the beaches and birds, and the rainforests are the body. We can’t call game over but we can slowly and eternally die which is exactly what is happening. Things get worse and we accept new normals; we accept worse normals.
I thought that the adults would have started a revolution.
The revolution never came.
I became an adult, my thoughts changed over the time. I did anything to be able to spend less time in Trinidad. When asked, I always say, I love the topography of Trinidad but other wise I hate the crude, corrupted place. I hate that I live there, I hate how much more intense my anxiety and depression is because of Trinidad.
Whenever I shared these thoughts the response was >90% always the same. Sure, it is bad, they said, but there is crime everywhere. The only thing was that I did not give a flying fuck about anywhere else. I was angry and saddened that my home was so overridden with crime. I didn’t care that there was crime elsewhere, I cared that we made excuses for ourselves.
I became an adult and the revolution never came.
I became an adult and I never started the revolution.
There was no revolution, we reacted, we were passive, we prayed, we talked, we shared statuses, we were sad. We were scared, we prayed. We stayed at home, we got home early, we got burglarproofing, we built tall walls, we got automatic gates, we got security cameras, we were scared, we played carnival, we were merry, we went to church, we prayed, we had a state of emergency. It was very easy, we all did it together. My behaviour and response to crime in my homeland was mirrored by everyone I interacted with.
I’m an adult now and I haven’t started the revolution.
However, from 2012-2014 I was part of a small revolution that my dad started against corruption in government organisations. From that experience I can say that it is both scary and difficult to start a revolution. Those that you fight against are part of the system that runs the country. They spend hundreds of thousands in advertising each month; the media won’t cover your revolution. The people would be hesitant to join you because the revolution might not reflect well on them even if they believe in the cause. Yet still, revolt.
I’m an adult now and I wonder about the success of revolutions. I think that perhaps once there is change, any type of change, a revolution was successful. It means then, that there was action instead of only reaction.
I think that the revolution isn’t going to one about praying. I think the revolution is one about cleansing. I think that a poorly functioning brain or heart is more likely to significantly affect a body than a strand of hair, or a broken fingernail.
I’m an adult now and I have more ideas about what the revolution should look like.
The ideal revolution’s outline:
All members of present government (in power, opposition, affiliates with a political group) will be relieved of their responsibilities. The positions should be filled by an elected (or otherwise appointed) group which will use true democracy. For every bill to pass in the house, every citizen of the country should have a vote on it. Every citizen should be taught and should attain an understanding of the system of government. Thereby making them better decision makers. There will not be political parties and ideally no elections for the first few years of this system. There will be a group of people, held constantly answerable to the population (after a certain amount of general education) and replaceable. These will not be positions of power nor prestige but of diligence and service.
All members of the present police, army and coast guard organisations will be relieved of their positions. Every citizen will have the responsibility of ensuring her or his security as well as that of her or his’ neighbours. There will be no nation wide court system for the first few years. Each community will come together and formulate their own set of laws concerning their responses to crime and what is considered crime. Those who commit offences in communities outside of their own will be tried according to the system in place where the offence was committed. There will be a national medical service and a national fire response service. Additionally, there will be a coastal response service which will seek the safety of mariners. The borders of the country will be open to all drug trafficking. However, human, animal and plant trafficking will not be permitted. Each community will draft laws concerning this. The use and production of marijuana will be decriminalised and legalised. Resources will not be utilised nor wasted on these matters. Citizens will not make outrageous profits from the transshipment nor redistribution of drugs.
The nation will move away from its reliance on nonrenewable resources. This will be attained over time. The length of time will be determined by how soon the country can become self reliant as well as how quickly it can terminate contracts with foreign enterprises. The country will move away from importation and dependence in all areas from food to technology. The work week will be adjusted as well as the value of money and its position in the society. There will be no difference in wages and opportunities for males or females. Quality and quantity will determine pay levels. Sustainable agriculture will be the focus of the nation. Work ethics will be created in every citizen. Citizens will contribute in a variety of ways to the nation and the nation will provide for them.
There will no longer be classification according to skin colour nor the ideas of the concept of race. There will be no admittance of foreigners to the nation (for the first few years). However, locals can come and go as they please while spending the majority of the year in the country. There will be a nation wide ban on all games, shows and movies that showcase or endorse violence. The elderly will be cared for by the larger community; they will still have responsibilities nonetheless. There will be nationwide programs connecting the citizens to the earth and nature. There will also be community organised, nationwide arts and crafts. There will be a very high sense of individual responsibility to the country.
Then, you can #prayforTnT.
This won’t happen though, we’ll just keep on getting scared and not calling out those around us who commit crimes (ills against society/another). We’ll depend on a body with a poorly functioning brain to somehow be dependable. We will blame political party after political party for not doing anything to fix crime. We will continue to look towards systems riddled with corruption to ensure our security. We will continue to #prayforTnT. That is a lot less time consuming than starting a revolution.
RUSHELL ROUSSEAU- Another, fed-up, frustrated citizen doing nothing about the situation while dreaming of a revolution.
PS. If the use of the word ‘fuck’ in this essay deeply affects you in a negative way I simply ask you to understand the weight of the word and why it was appropriate. I also ask you to consider how much effort you put into focusing on stray chin hairs. (I have PCOS and quite a few! They are societally unsightly and entirely harmless but they tell of a much more serious occurrence in the body. )