“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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.