I am not a seer man but I do try to pierce the fete and freeness veil drawn to conceal and dumb down the real and pressing issues facing our little country.
For that reason, like several of my fellow columnists, I am not impressed with the false images which are constantly touted and peddled to us, none more so than the milk and honey version of our economy.
The electorate is currently being induced to salivate at the slew of rosy promises falling off the election platforms. However such promises are out of sync with the reality of falling oil and gas prices.
The last national Budget was premised on US$80 a barrel. It was revised downwards to US$45. Now the oil price is US$38.
How will the rosy promises be kept?
Last week’s column critiqued pledging too much credit on the energy sector card. Likewise, other commentators were warning about the unsustainable cost of the manifesto promises of the two main contenders in the imminent General Election.
Almost simultaneously the oil price dropped to US$40 per barrel.
The problem is many have so long worshipped the graven images of fete, freeness and false status that those images prevail over truth and reality.
Indifference to poor governance is ingrained to an extent that Terrence Farrell has asserted that our economy has been recklessly endangered.
Indifference has a high price. It inhibits the development of moral authority.
That is why, for example, the Debates Commission failed so humiliatingly, coming as it did from a section of the society generally quiet on matters of governance vital to the country but seeking to jump into the political gayelle and pompously pat itself on the back for a flawed intervention.
Professing to help the nation mature requires much more than a flawed intervention. Continuing attempts to save the egg-laden face of the Debates Commission are futile.
Flow, a cable channel provider whose belly must be already full to bursting, has also insulted our intelligence by seeking to justify charging its subscribers the same money for significantly less product.
Surely the inanities of the Debates Commission and Flow must be hugely embarrassing to the private sector.
Meanwhile action by the pock-marked Integrity Commission is puzzling us again.
What would motivate the Integrity Commission to re-open the Leader of the Opposition’s 2004 declaration of assets and liabilities, eleven years later, in the face of that Commission’s previous Court defeat in litigation brought by Dr. Rowley?
Was it vexatious to give a 14-day deadline to respond to a request for information in the middle of a bitterly contested General Election?
Graven images are a biblical reference carrying the authority of a commandment, one of ten hallowed prescriptions. Biblical scholars assert that the commandment against worshipping graven images is important because we become what we worship and if we worship idols we become deaf and blind to the true word of God.
Respectfully put into a secular context, it might be said that if we worship freeness we become freeloaders; coarsely put, we does eat ah food and spit out principle.
I suggest that where we are at the moment is that many more of those who have been indifferent to decades of poor or corrupt governance are becoming victims themselves.
The accelerating institutional decay, against which they issued little protest when it began or as it visibly accelerated, will ultimately disrupt their nice living too.
Our visit to the polling booth is a week away. What to do in there? An equally important question is what to do afterward?
Many know that the act of voting once, every five years or so, does not give us sufficient leverage over our Government, whomever we elect. I don’t know when we will ever find belly enough to speak out at least as part of a group—one not stimulated exclusively by narrow self interest—if the individual heart is too faint, but we should bear in mind the corrosive effect of silence and indifference.
A well known US educator and writer defined the threat to democracy as follows: “The death of democracy is not likely to be assassination by ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference and undernourishment”.
While election campaigns are conducted, like the current one, with little serious discussion of major issues and, as long as those with the capacity to speak up or make a contribution to the general good remain silent or are indifferent to institutional decay, our democracy will remain undernourished.
In these last weeks reckless operatives have been spreading visceral fear. There is also “a corruption is inevitable” narrative that seeks to have the nation accept corruption whatever the under the table cost of visible infrastructural projects and regardless whether part of the Treasury is effectively handed over to favoured members of a State funded ‘contractocracy.’
Will our democracy decline from undernourishment to being terminally poisoned?