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Realities we are not facing: the dangers of disadvantaged conditions in T&T

Even though it is said we have become desensitised, the murder rate is once again front and centre of a very grim stage and we have been told to “brace ourselves for more murders.”

This warning contains the grave implication that the authorities are not in control.

Photo: A murder scene. (Courtesy Scenecleanmn.com)
Photo: A murder scene.
(Courtesy Scenecleanmn.com)

It is also a warning that provides more evidence that we have suffered the type of coup d’etat described in so many of my previous columns by reference to work of Professor HLA Hart.

This type of coup is one in which the Government has ceded control of areas of the State to persons who do not hold constitutional authority but do not need to do so in order to be in charge. This state of affairs has unfolded during the respective rules of both PNM and UNC for two decades and the boundaries of the coup have been expanding. The boundaries now appear to have encompassed the prisons.

Throughout my time as a columnist I have related the murder rate to the dysfunctional and disadvantaged conditions in which so many of our young people live and have pointed out the unaddressed flaws in our socio economic structure.

Because of my interaction in the sphere of the people’s culture and some mentoring activities I am aware of these conditions and of those many young persons who have commendably managed to lift themselves above those negative conditions.

In the course of a continuing supportive interaction with wise young persons, who have put themselves on a sustainable course after being angry and depressed, the conversations turn to what it is like out there. I describe the reports more or less as I received them, quoting precisely some of the telling phrases.

Photo: Two Arima North Secondary students take it easy during a 5k against school violence and bullying on Friday February 12. (Courtesy Arima North Secondary)
Photo: Two Arima North Secondary students take it easy during a 5k against school violence and bullying on Friday February 12.
(Courtesy Arima North Secondary)

Before I do, it must be emphatically acknowledged that many single mothers provide for their children and equip them by way of upbringing for a growth path.  So do some single fathers.

Young persons on their own initiative manage to overcome hardship and emotional deprivation or damage.

My informants state that a majority of their twenty-something generation come from families that are not “properly structured” or “not stable or firm”—85% in some areas, bearing in mind not only the state of single motherhood from the onset of pregnancy or from soon after the child’s birth, but abusiveness in relationships between couples and the incidence of hostile separation.

“Coming out of that situation young people need leadership but leadership is lacking in all corners—communities, churches, schools and work.”

Reasons are provided for this statement.

In the communities, persons are encouraged and “celebrated” for taking the easy route to material success like selling drugs.

“Is a easy thing to sell a drugs” because so many in authority are doing it, financing it or taking pay offs from the trade. In those circumstances the wrongdoer can expect to conduct his business with impunity.

Photo: A drug deal.
Photo: A drug deal.

“He done covered up already.”

Schools are hotbeds of violence. Some churches cannot lead because they press for conformity to rules not well explained and do not understand the difference between being spiritual and religious.

At work, authority is also dominant.

“We have bosses but not managers.”

For example, if an error is allegedly made you must do it over “the right way” without any explanation of why it is the “right” way or any receptiveness to an alternative.

Obtaining things “now for now” undermines the development of positive leadership in communities. The pressure for instant gratification also militates against patience to build something sustainable.

For young women casual sex or a porn movie role will pay more than a regular job. They too, like the young males, have not benefitted from examples of the longer term worth of loving relationships but sex can go wrong because teenage pregnancy can be an irreparable setback and earn scornful labels.

Young men deprived of seeing any or any positive interaction between a father and a mother may learn only that the business of a man is to put food on the table and some gold adornment on the body.

Photo: A hooded man prepares to fire. (Courtesy Moderncombatandsurvival.com)
Photo: A hooded man prepares to fire.
(Courtesy Moderncombatandsurvival.com)

“They have never seen a man love a woman the way it ought to be.”

Males do not know how to show affection. Young men sell dreams of material advancement. If a young woman falls only for the dreams, she may not grow to understand her own worth or value.

“You get fight down” on account of colour, bad address and perceived class. The wrongside alternatives are an easy, if sometimes fatal, option to instant material success. Anyone successful in the underground economy can jump out and “buy a land” in an upscale neighbourhood.

The conversation closes with an assertion that that those in authority do not have first hand knowledge of these realities.

Heeding all this, my question is: Are the authorities looking but not seeing or turning a blind eye; or is it that they are too compromised to care?

 

AboutMartin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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14 comments

  1. Interviewed a clueless MP once. She wondered why it wasn’t enough to build a community centre and basketball court. Many of our political leaders may genuinely have no clue about the psycho-social interventions required to lift communities out of violence and poverty. And they’re not inclined to listen to the people who do know.

  2. But he is accurate. It is our inability to define a collective economic space compounded by our history that has us in the mess we are. He may not have touched on all the issues but it is pointless to kill the messenger.

    • Earl Best

      …or to target him, Shireen, simply because he speaks with a different voice in his day job. The calypsonian who said that ‘each of us have a role to portray” was oversimplifying things; the fact is that each of us has several roles to play on this stage we call life.

  3. I have a hard time listening to Martin Daly who is the defense lawyer for the thieves in Clico. Steups

  4. OK so what Martin says in his column is more or less said a million and more times ad nauseum, save and except for his generalized personal experiences. But he fails to say how or what specific approaches can be implemented to reverse the curse, and what triangulated mechanisms or measured can be employed to monitor and track progress. We all know what the problems are. We need solutions. And, not just talk. We need action. I’ll look out for Martin’s solutions in next week’s column.

  5. The underground economy provides job security for life. Regardless of how long or short that life may be.
    That can’t be an unattractive reality to a certain mindset in a country in the midst of a recession and where so many university graduates are underemployed.

    • Earl Best

      To be fair, Chabeth, one has to acknowledge two realities that impinge on the instant issue:

      (1) The “recession” is a relatively new phenomenon although poverty, dispossession and ketcharse have been around for ages.

      (2) Many university graduates are certified but far from qualified.

    • Earl Best comment: To be fair, Chabeth, one has to acknowledge two realities that impinge on the instant issue:

      (1) The “recession” is a relatively new phenomenon although poverty, dispossession and ketcharse have been around for ages.

      (2) Many university graduates are certified but far from qualified.

    • University graduates of UWI or globally?

  6. However The society will pay

    Nothing happens without consequences

  7. I love when we act as if we didn’t know these things before

  8. I love when highly paid lawyers tell us about our realities and give it straight. I really wait for the crumbs of their marvellous advice to trickle down to the lot of us: the poor and feeble who don’t know better. 🙂