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Together we aspire, together we achieve

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The father of a teenager was asked by the mother to speak to their daughter to try and change her view of the world.

The daughter had become despondent and uninterested, citing the fact that the world adults are leaving for her generation is in a mess. In her view, there is no point in trying to do better when her world doesn’t look good at all.

The father also confessed it was difficult for him to change her mind because, deep down, he agreed with her.

A 32-year old, with an impeccable education, is currently unemployed after a stint in the public sector.

He joined the public sector because he felt that, as a patriot, he could make a contribution towards making Trinidad and Tobago a better place.

He is now not only without a job but also without hope.

He feels corruption and ineptitude in the public sector are destroying the country.

He looked deflated and resigned to the direction of travel of his beloved nation.

These are two unrelated but very real stories told to a staff from this newspaper recently.

They are not unique, with different versions of the same arguments depending on personal experience.

There’s a growing sense of pessimism and despondency permeating all walks of life and every corner of the country.

This is not surprising.

Our economy is heading to the rocks whilst our political and civil leadership is either absent or adding to the problems—one actually is on the record for calling our land a “blasted place.”

Violence and the causes of violence seem out of control, with the Government acknowledging that corruption is endemic in our police force.

We don’t even seem to be able to plan properly for a ferry crossing between our twin islands—a basic requirement, considering our geography.

Those old enough will remember the helplessness felt by the citizens of T&T in the ’80s, when the excessive behaviour of the ’70s turned into a horrendous and painful hangover.

Then, the same mistakes we see now were made.

No proper long term planning, wasteful behaviour and many people helping themselves to public funds led to a broken economy and a broken society.

The lost decade, as the ’80s came to be known throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, hit us hard.

The IMF—in its role akin to a social worker for failed governments—came with their tough love to deal with our structural problems.

No one looks back with fondness of the ’80s in Trinidad and Tobago.

However, those old enough to remember those awful times will also remember how the country rallied together to work on the re-building of what was then a nation barely past its teen years.

We volunteered to do what the state no longer could do.

And most people made personal sacrifices to get through the decade. We clearly did not learn all the lessons from the ’70s and ’80s or we wouldn’t be in this mess again.

But what that era showed us is that, together, we can overcome difficult times and flourish again. And that, together, we can make T&T a better place.

As we return to work following the Easter break—a time when Christians mark a moment of renewal and hope—let’s pledge to do at least one positive thing for our country every day, irrespective of how small or big that might be.

By rallying together, we can inspire our young people again and help move them from despondency to active optimism.

After all, together we aspire and together we achieve.


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