By Brian G Stone MBA, Business Consultant
According to Dictionary.com, a hero is defined as a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character. A person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal. A coward is a person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.; a timid or easily intimidated person.
‘Cowards of men’, as it applies to the socio-economic-politico ethos of T&T, is appropriately defined for the purposes of this article by the poetic words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “To sin by silence when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”
I ask you if in practice, relative to Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s definition, are you/we who call ourselves citizens of T&T, not guilty of cowardice? Is there not an absence of true heroes that lead by example, set the high standards of values, principles, justice, integrity, and fair-play?
‘Cowards of men’, I accuse, are sinfully responsible and accountable for our nation’s woes: the economic rape of our gifted national treasures of oil and gas; the plunder of our once rich (peoples’) treasury; the squandermania of a nation’s wealth over decades of horrendous corruption and thievery; the dirty environment and crime-ridden streets; the ugliness of racism; the injustices of class inequalities… and ultimately the destruction of a truly unique, proud and happy society we lovingly called our sweet sweet T&T. Sadly, the evidence indicts our homeland of approaching failed state status, and in the absence of heroes, the cowards’ rule is bringing us to our knees.
Who are the ‘cowards of men’ you ask? Why it’s you/‘we the people’ of course!
In the infamous words of the ‘cowardly’ ruler, the Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, he charges every citizen of cowardice when he raised fuel prices twice and threatened to repeat the painful economic burden again because you/’we the people’ “ain’t riot yet.” From insult to injury, he laughed at the people’s silence to protest… are we not then, true [to Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s] ‘cowards of men’?
Surely our children were frightened when the Member of Parliament Laventille West/East Morvant Fitzgerald Hinds cowardly attacked little (rasta) boys when he growled, “I saw an idiot little rasta boy kissing the Prime Minister’s (Kamla Persad-Bissessar) palm…That made me sick. And if I had my way, I cut every dreadlock off his head”. Did the public, parents of ‘idiots’, child protection institutions, not ‘sin by silence’?
Did not Prime Minister Keith Rowley insult every voting citizen when he bellowed that “Trinidadians are stupid”? Yet, is it not true ‘we’ the ‘stupid’ public were silent in protest? I ask you, when the Prime Minister literally victimized women when he used “Kyat’ in abusive language and condoned the act of grooming women like the grass on his golf course, did women who face sexual harassment in the workplace rise up in protest? When Ian Alleyne aired on his program in 2015 the criminal accusations by a (staunch PNM) mother and her child accusing Keith Rowley of sexual harassment (inappropriate touching was alleged) of a minor, did not the sins of silence of an electorate who voted him in government rear its ugly head in contempt of doing what is right? “Not a dog dare bark” is the PNM legacy of fear-mongering that has now unleashed the colonial slavery whips of sedition by attempting to punish the very man (Watson Duke) that will unseat their abusive power in Tobago. “Shut up,” said the master Prime Minister to his subjects, and not a ‘dog bark’.
Missing in action
Many of our iconic Businessmen today, so-called heroes of commerce, are entangled in cowardly acts of corruption and deals for profiteering at the expense of the public good. The business community is infested with predatory pricing and deceptive marketing schemes that fleece the unaware and naive consumer. In fact, every bribe paid to a government official or politician involves a business transaction, and it’s business as usual in T&T.
‘Cowards of men’ is a present-day manifestation of a mutation of our T&T DNA. Hence our nickname up the Islands, “Trickeydadians”. When our country was sweet T&T, we were not so lazy, complacent and fearful of protesting against abusive, corrupt and authoritarian forces of the aristocracy.
We had real heroes then! Our heroes today are missing in action! Heroes like labour leader Buzz Butler (awarded the Trinity Cross) of the famed Butler riots is credited as the man who struck the first damaging blow against colonialism. Makandal Daaga,, political activist and former revolutionary, was the leader of the 1970 Black Power Revolution which to his credit forced the then PNM government to enforce equal rights for black citizens.
Adrian Cola Rienzi was another hero of the people and fought courageously for Indo-Trinidadian rights. Courageous men also include a (Tobagonian) man named Sandy who was an enslaved African who led the first major slave revolt in Tobago in 1770. Role models like Audrey Layne Jeffers, and Jonas Mohammed Bath, a Black Muslim priest, enslaved and appointed as an overseer or “colonial negro” with pay. From the money he received, he acquired enough to pay for the release of 200 of the enslaved Africans on the island – a hero indeed!
Be the hero
Our country’s citizens’ electorate, the public, is the only hope we have to save our homeland from its demise. Citizen actions, activists, protests, civil disobedience, and even democratic revolution to remove and replace a failed and dangerous government is within the power of every citizen, even the ordinary man in the street.
Our constitutional Revolution comes every five years and it is the most powerful force that no government or army can defeat. Your vote, the people’s ballot, is the most feared weapon against tyranny and corruption. Be a hero and protest with your vote to rid our homeland of this failed, abusive, arrogant administration that is killing our nation and endangering our lives. Whatever you do, please vote… and do the right thing and vote with your conscience.
“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”. Larry J. Sabato