Sometimes a song, phrase or expression lodges itself in your mind as if on repeat play. The one that is in my mind is the recent statement by former CEO of SWMCOL, Ronald Roach, which was reported in the Trinidad Guardian on 7 July.
“We have not placed sufficient emphasis on waste disposal. Our waste disposal methods are very primitive, and it has been so for a long time. I have been trying to change that. There is so much that needs to be done. We don’t get it as a country. We don’t get it as a people.”
He was referring to “waste disposal”, but I could replace “waste disposal” with “tourism sector”, “crime”, “education”, “sexual harassment”, etc. and the same sentiment would be valid.
We are at a place where the tourism sector has crashed; we can’t even afford to paint the white lines on our rapidly deteriorating roads; crime is out of control; 80% of students are unhappy with their SEA placing; the prime minister continues to keep from the public the details of a report on how a sexual harassment charge about a minister was handled; and I can go on and on.
For the past 45 months, we have been bombarded with the propaganda that there is not enough of anything, from money to pay public servants to hospital beds for the sick, but the huge capital expenditure projects continue to be implemented. There seems to be an insatiable appetite for building buildings and soon the road paving frenzy will unfold.
When households experience a money crunch, we do things like repair and refurbish our furniture; spend only on what is essential; gather around the kitchen table and talk about how we are going to get out of this difficult space. We hug each other and provide the reassurance that tomorrow will be a brighter day. In other words, we take the necessary action and provide the inspiration, emotional support and hope.
It is no different for a country. Our leader should be explaining that while our world has changed permanently, we are creating a new and different space for Trinidad and Tobago. He should be appealing to our aspirational selves and helping all of us believe that things can and will be better if we collaborate and take action to make our lives better.
Our leader could have identified three actions that citizens can take to make a difference. Our leader could be peddling hope instead of wasting precious communication time either cussing the opposition, defending a poor decision, or lamenting that we have no money, while finding money to allocate to a commission of enquiry, which is unlikely to finish in the remaining 15 months.
The author Tom Bodett said: “A person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do and something to hope for.”
My prime minister has a responsibility to provide our country with something to hope for.