The Thema Williams judgment sits as one more example of corruption among those entrusted to dispassionately look after our best national interests. Brick by brick we dismantle the foundations of trust, essential to the proper functioning of our society.
From 2009, when the first local polls tracked the public confidence in our leaders, we have seen a steady decline in faith in both our leaders and our institutions. The only sparks happen when we hitch our faith to new messiahs—a new president, a new prime minister—but the core faith has been eroded.
We no longer believe that our public figures and institutions are trustworthy.
The MFO Petrotrin poll lays bare our tragedy: faith in the technical leaders—the trade unionists, the board chair—is pitifully lower than our trust in the political leaders, who are supported by traditional voting blocs.
We argue that ‘nobody has our interests at heart’ and blur the lines about who has expertise and whether anyone can act objectively for the good of the country. This is the challenge of BATT in the current struggle for compliance by our banking system with the global demands: do ‘we’ trust them to speak the truth?
We miss the strategic correspondent banking arrangements concern which can turn out to be detrimental affecting us all because we do not believe that the bankers have our best interests at heart, considering their declared profits.
There has been the systematic dismantling of the faith in the Judiciary—our confidence in it has halved between 2011 and 2018 to a place where only 10% of our population has confidence in it.
Our trust levels have fallen below the critical level for the functioning of our society. When our trust in technical leaders dissipates, we have an insurmountable hurdle. This is akin to what happened in the UK with Brexit and in the US with the climate change discussions.
How will we know truth? If there is no honest sharing about critical information, how do we go forward together as a nation? Lack of faith, in those who ought to be dispassionate, will feed us to fear the ‘others’.
Why is there this loss of public confidence in public figures and institutions? Our penchant for ‘bussing a mark’ which feeds the spread of truth mixed with lies is an enabler. The ability of social media feeds to serve ‘hot’ but unverified leaks weakens the perceived trust in journalism.
The Jamaicans have a saying loosely interpreted as ‘if it nuh go so, it near so’ to mean that a half truth is good enough. We now prefer to listen to who ‘breaks the story first’ instead of examining whether there is a bias in the news feed. We care less about wanton lies that appeal to our core perspectives rather than who points the finger.
In our case, often people of dubious morals enabled by raw partisanship speak the loudest and hold the most press conferences. People we should reject become paragons of virtue as they present ‘insider stories’ that unveil the fraud and corruption. But we have moved from ‘checks and balances’ to ‘destruction’.
We will throttle potential investments because of scepticism about protection of the rewards. Or as our Syrian- Lebanese community has found out to their chagrin, we characterise the success of others as ill-gotten gains or as the fruit of some form of unfair advantage.
Unemployment now rises in the face of rational individual behaviour reinforcing the view that ‘he or she don’t care’. Being hurt and being left defenceless, the poor will understand the pain which others seem not to. They either mask that pain or their pain will be leveraged by others seeking ammunition for their own agendas. The poor loses either way.
This loss of trust masks the potential for intervention not by a new political party—that is too much hard work—but by conniving, deeply amoral rabble rousers. The danger ahead is neither 1970 with its ideological underpinnings nor the 1990 insurrection with its narrow ends, but a greater one given the presence of guns and the lack of moral moorings coupled with immense frustrations of our young.
We now run the risk of greater financial and public corruption protected by partisan positions or an attempt to overthrow the civil framework in place. Both options are disastrous as we become dogs fighting over discarded scraps.
We can behave as jilted lovers in a domestic violence setting: if I cannot have you, nobody else will or we can be discerning about our best interests and work out our differences.