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Letter to the Editor: Is T&T cursed by our horsemen of the Apo-calypso?

“How else can one explain our two honourable Houses of Parliament, Upper and Lower, that seem to be ordained never, like East and West, to meet?

“Where parliamentarians and some senators too seem to spend more time in the highest courts of the land trying to embarrass one another, to win pyrrhic victories in verbal battles rather than in serious debate on pressing national issues?”

The following Letter to the Editor, which links Revelations’ Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to the T&T reality, was submitted to Wired868 by Mr Kelvin Scoon:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (centre) speaks in Parliament flanked by acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert (right) and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.. The country's fate, the behaviour of many suggests, is in their hands. (Copyright Parliament.Org)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (centre) speaks in Parliament flanked by acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert (right) and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. The country’s fate, the behaviour of many suggests, is in their hands. (Copyright Parliament.Org)

These musings were prompted by a good friend who challenged me recently to name the five most important problems that we in Trinidad and Tobago need to confront and manage in order to make T&T nice again.

No, I am not proposing a winning Trumpian slogan for the next election cycle. But his question and our subsequent discussion of my choices triggered a thought that sent me to the biblical story in Revelations, Chapter 6, in which John of Patmos reveals the breaking of the seven seals by The Lamb of God and the revealing of the prophecy of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, seen by scholars as symbolising Conquest, War, Famine and Death.

The White Horse

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (Revelation 6:1-2)

The rider on the White Horse armed with bow and arrow represents the evil conquest of all our governance systems and institutions by the combined forces of anarchy, greed, corruption, mistrust, misplaced loyalties and an apathetic, benumbed citizenry.

How else can one explain our two honourable Houses of Parliament, Upper and Lower—that seem to be ordained never, like East and West, to meet? Where parliamentarians and some senators too seem to spend more time in the highest courts of the land trying to embarrass one another, to win pyrrhic victories in verbal battles rather than engaging in serious debate on pressing national issues?

Photo: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) and former Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal. (Courtesy Baltimore Post)
Photo: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) and former Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal.
(Courtesy Baltimore Post)

What sort of devil wields the power that has prevented two—or is it three (I have lost count)—separate teams of 41 honourable men and women from agreeing over more than 48 months and how many parliamentary sessions on the criteria and procedures that will govern the selection and allocation of resources for the appointment of a tenured Commissioner of Police?

Meanwhile, citizens continue to endure a constantly deteriorating crime situation and the incumbent is into his eighth—or is it his ninth? (I have lost count)—six-month acting appointment with all the uncertainty and inaction that such a situation implies.

The situation is even worse at all levels of local government, where what should be the nurseries of political training for service and the places where more citizens can become directly involved in managing their local communities have deteriorated into areas of political skirmishing. There, resources are more likely to be allocated by spite and favouritism to the party in temporary control rather than by consensus on community needs and solutions of merit.

Promises for local government reform are regularly made in each election season. then just as regularly disregarded and mothballed, only to be conveniently dusted off and included in manifestos full of vague promises when the next election season rolls around.

Photo: PNM supporters celebrate the September 7 election results at Balisier House. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: PNM supporters celebrate the September 7 election results at Balisier House.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Meanwhile, name any branch of government services and you’ll find hundreds of citizens who can recount chilling stories of malfunctioning systems, waste, disappointments, malfeasance and favouritism. And at the same time, I guarantee that there are thousands of hard-working public servants and police officers and councillors, all citizens who share the same concerns.

The Red Horse

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come and see!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. (Revelation 6:3-4)

The rider on the fiery Red Horse is he who was called “Mr Divider by calypso griot Stalin.

He continues to swashbuckle his way across our two islands, using his big sword of divisiveness, constantly cutting the ties that bind families, friends, neighbours, communities, ethnicities, religions, and economic groupings and preventing us from working together, pooling our thoughts, ideas, cultures and resources in the interest of finding solutions for the benefit of the common good.

Photo: Five-time Calypso Monarch, the Black Stalin. His "Mr Divider" remains as relevant today as it was decades ago when it was first sung. (Courtesy NCCTT.org)
Photo: Five-time Calypso Monarch, the Black Stalin. His “Mr Divider” remains as relevant today as it was decades ago when it was first sung.
(Courtesy NCCTT.org)

The Black Horse

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Revelation 6:5-6)

On the black horse rides yet another ‘divider,’ carrying the balancing scales that should symbolise justice equally balanced and administered, but unilaterally proclaiming loudly, the sole right to determine the terms and conditions under which such justice is dispensed.

That situation has guaranteed continuous friction between owners and workers, masters with mistresses and servants, which has left us with recurring seasons of labour versus management strife, has obstructed the growth of institutions like the still-born Tripartite Commission, stunts our creativity, imposes limits on our productivity and keeps us close to the bottom of any international measurement scale of competitiveness.

Photo: With the scales of justice in the background, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah (left) speaks while general secretary Akins Vidale looks on and listens.
Photo: With the scales of justice in the background, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah (left) speaks while general secretary Akins Vidale looks on and listens.

The Pale Horse

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8)

On the pale, colourless horse rides Death, the ‘cleaner’, who takes advantage of the trails of chaos and confusion created by the anarchy and divisiveness of the other apocalyptic riders to clean up and spread death and destruction. It is his handiwork we now experience every day of our lives as we read about, listen to, and view the gory details, now no longer described as “killings” or “murders” but sanitised and upgraded to the Latin-derived term “homicides”—and occasionally “collateral damage.”

While we live in constant fear, we gather and bury our dead, shed our tears, share our frustrations, continue to call on our leaders and the validating elites to create solutions. We do not, however, realize that each one of us has a role to play in finding solutions and that in the end: it’s up to me.

Maybe there is some significance for us that three of the horses in the prophecy are in our national colours, white, red and black—our horses. The problems and the solutions we may, therefore, conclude are in the riders, and they are us, we, me.

Photo: Murdered WPC Nyasha Joseph.
Photo: Murdered WPC Nyasha Joseph.

I shall reveal my choices of the fundamental problems that my friend and I discussed. In the meantime, if you have read this far, I suggest you determine your own suggestions, discuss them with family, friends, co-workers, party members and trade union comrades.

It’s up to all of us to begin the engagement in sober and useful discussion and debate with a view to finding practical solutions, keeping in mind always that: it’s up to me.

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10 comments

  1. What is my contribution, what can I do , with what I “have” and where I am? This, I think is what each of us might ask of ourselves. We always under estimate the “power” of “ONE.”

    • One person may not have the power to effect change, but you owe it to yourself, family and society to hold the people elected to serve the country accountable for their actions; be impartial in judgment, give praise and criticism where due.

  2. Very creative approach to the issues facing TNT. But religion n the bible might be more the cause of the problems than the solutions we seek.

    • Earl Best

      Is the writer proposing that we find solutions in the Bible? That’s not my reading of this piece. I think he is identifying our problems as not new, as old indeed as the reality (if that is the right word) of Revelations.

      The solutions are not, he says, in our stars or in our books but in our selves. How else are we to interpret the end of the piece, which says:

      “In the meantime, if you have read this far, I suggest you determine your own suggestions, discuss them with family, friends, co-workers, party members and trade union comrades.

      It’s up to all of us to begin the engagement in sober and useful discussion and debate with a view to finding practical solutions, keeping in mind always that: it’s up to me”?

  3. I agree it’s up to us the people. Sadly, we are a people of all mouth and no action. We know certain businesses and institutions are corrupt, yet we continue to conduct our affairs there, and just have a by the way conversation on the issue.

    What’s the solution, when we the people can discuss, debate, and solutions go nowhere because they are blocked by “the people”?

    • My thought on ‘we know certain businesses are corrupt’..but yet we (society) sometimes paint them with a different brush because they have money/influence. So we follow the crowd. I always wonder about the successful businessman/woman whose business you never even heard of!

  4. This country would be so hard pressed to populate an Honourable Bus Shelter, never mind any kind or size of “House”.

    • Good point. We see that problem every time we try to fill the integrity commission.

      • Earl Best

        Well, I agree with John’s point but I think you are being just a tad unfair perhaps. The terms and conditions attached to becoming a member of the Integrity Commission discourage any number of people who might otherwise have been co-opted. So whereas we may have 100 honest people of integrity in the country, if you look only at the IC catchment to gauge that, you may get the impression that there are only 50.

        And, just in case you’re wondering, those are arbitrary figures plucked out of thin air; the cynics may think otherwise.