During an Easter Sunday break from my column, I was forcibly struck by the disconnect between the official messages about Easter from those clothed with high constitutional authority and the grim reality on the ground.
Many persons would have been engaged in pleasurable activities over the Easter weekend. However, the country remains gripped by fear of violent crime in respect of which the official messages have long ceased to be comforting or inspiring.
How can it be otherwise when, in addition to rampant murder, we are frequently confronted with the results of brutal home invasions?
I hope that my commentaries about the blinkered approach to violent crime, our gravely disproportionate socio-economic conditions, the failed education system, the absence of an enlightened policy on the performing arts and culture, and the lack of even-handedness in the distribution of assistance from the social safety net were clear.
Only citizens blinded by partisan loyalty still seek to find some excuse or deflection of responsibility for the sorry state of our country, which one or other of the two major political party blocks has governed badly for several decades while supported by the indifference of the validating elites to the likely outcomes of the bad governance and neglect.
Thinking about the failures of successive grappes of elected leaders—clothed with the constitutional authority of the Executive but being impotent to help us—led me to re-read the old Hans Christian Anderson children’s story about The Emperor’s New Clothes, a tale of a vain emperor who gets exposed before his subjects.
Two wily weavers of cloth persuaded the Emperor that they could provide him with new clothes of a splendour never before seen by his subjects in front of whom the Emperor regularly paraded.
By analogy to contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, the wily weavers no doubt got access to the Emperor without going through a legislated procurement process. Perhaps, had airplanes been already invented, they could also just as easily persuaded the Emperor to build a splendid new airport with some hidden profits.
Returning to the tale, the wily weavers persuaded the Emperor to undress and mimed a pretence of fitting him with new clothes, while all of his courtiers told the Emperor how well the clothes fit and how splendid they were.
The mime continued in the form of a procession before the people, who dutifully applauded his new wardrobe, too scared to tell him the truth that he had no clothes on and was in fact naked.
Then a child in the crowd cries out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all, and de mark buss that the Emperor’s new clothes were nothing but an illusion.
The tale has given rise to the saying “the emperor has no clothes”—used to describe “a situation in which people are afraid to criticise something or someone because the perceived wisdom of the masses is that the thing or person is good or important”.
Currently, we are in a more perplexing state of self-deception because it is not likely that it is the perceived wisdom of our masses that things are good.
In fact, our Emperors are forced from time to time to acknowledge certain things are bad. On Easter Sunday, for example, we read of a reported ministerial confession that the Water and Sewerage Authority knows that corrupt employees may be switching off the water supply in certain districts.
What is the state of the Authority’s management and supervision? Is it too lame and unable to monitor its own equipment and to seek to protect it—before communities are desperate for water and in a state of dangerous protest?
Subsequently, as recently as last week, a dead bandit was once again described as “well known to the police”.
He and those of his ilk are apparently immune, while alive, from search warrants aimed at stashes of illicit arms and ammunition and from having their premises searched, even when state of emergency powers are declared.
The Emperors bark at us and each other but they are all Emperors with no clothes. This is so apparent, yet we do not rock the status quo boat—simply continuing to acquiesce in the unpalatable political choices on offer.