Trinidadian culture as reflected in their appreciation of food, is one where if it isn’t bold and explosive then there is no interest or appreciation in it. This is no more apparent than in the news and entertainment industries, and even spills over into romantic affairs. As a society we have become numb; numb to the vicissitudes of life, and numb to the beauty of it. This is because as a society we have not yet found ourselves, we have not found our legs and because of our colonial history we are barred from seeing our way forward. Not in the way you would think, based on slavery and an ethnic divide, but because we feel the need to cling to that and we use it as a crutch for our actions. So we cripple ourselves, using it as a cop out and not holding ourselves to the same standard as the rest of the world.
We are so quick to say that it only makes sense that rest of the world is better than us or more developed than us, because they had more time to do so and built their wealth and society on the backs of slavery. Yes, they may have, but if we sit and complain and expect them to fix it then nothing will come of it. As a society, it is time to shut up and get in motion. We have many great resources and brilliantly talented young minds. We have competent legal, musical and political minds. We need to invest in ourselves. Everyone lacks faith in our country and our future, everyone is simply trying to grab what they can before someone else steals it. A great man once told me “invest in yourself,” it’s all you have and it’s your biggest bargaining chip. As a country, we must begin to foster some faith in ourselves and remove the shackles binding us that prevent us from believing in ourselves. Even if our voices say we can’t, our actions will say otherwise and demonstrate that we are moving forward.
In our society we have constant conflict that inhibits our agendas and our society’s ability to progress and move forward. While opposites and oppositions are some of the things that can spur progress, in today’s world one of the most widespread endemics is the ploy of one side of people to remove the voice of the other in order to achieve their ends. We see it with liberals and second wave feminists where they try to silence the voices of those conservatives who they think are too out of place or too conflicting in their views. People are no longer afforded a fair hearing before they are silenced, so long as their view is conflicting or far right. The liberal norm has become conformity. This may be an unpopular opinion, but while sexism and racism aren’t good things, the true height of liberalism isn’t censoring them but allowing them to air their views and then dealing with it. Such an attempt to introduce parental controls on people’s speech will surely inculcate a culture whereby people become closeted racists and sexists and begin to clothe their actions behind the veil of circular reasoning. This further dulls the society we live in. We are dull to everything but the most radical extremism and the most powerful sedatives. Dull to the finer parts of life that make life worth living.
Children today are told that they should not be bullies, that they should all get along; the ideal in education has become participation medals and no form of competition, aiming to make all children feel equal. Rather than this is erroneous ideal that leaves children and the coming generations unfit for life, we should instead encourage competition and let that competition bring out individual talent. For indeed it is only when compressed does carbon become diamond. Which is why there now exists a generation of millennials who have no place in the world and the world is nothing like they have been led to believe, nothing like they expected, and they are left at odds with it. And so to eliminate the bullies in a system would be akin to removing the apex predators in a food chain; and without apex predators we have no population control, we have no innovation and we have no progress. Fear and survival has forever been what has moved human progress forward, from the creation of dwelling places, to farming, to building cities. Our ability to respond to fear is what has distinguished us as humans and raised us to the peak of the world. Why then would we try to remove what has, and continues to make us the people we are today? Instead we should teach our children how to deal with the fear, how to learn from conflicts and bullying, how to better manage conflict and how to react in a healthy way. Charles R. Swindoll said that life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react to it. I say, let us invest in training the next generation of our children and finally distinguish ourselves from the world, let us show them that we can shake our colonial past, that we are not asking for a pity party and then from a place of power, we will bargain on how to move forward from our past.
Written by Vincent Patterson