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Painful but Precious in Its Truth

Painful but Precious in Its Truth

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Published by: silkcottonjumbie on Aug 05, 2012
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08/23/2014

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HOME NEWS SPORTS BUSINESS FEATURES EDITORIAL LETTERS VIDEOS PHOTOS ADVERTISE CONTAPRINT CLASSIFIEDS ONLINE CLASSIFIEDS ARCADEEMAIL THIS ARTICLESHARE PRINT THIS ARTICLE
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By Sunity MaharajStory Created: Aug 4, 2012 at 10:57 PM ECT
(Story Updated: Aug 4, 2012 at 10:57 PM ECT )
Now that the shock is beginning to subside, weshould consider thanking Therese Baptiste-Cornelis for the raw insights she has given usinto the insidious nature of maximum power.In 37 minutes of uninhibited rambling, she blewthe cover off our political pretensions, revealingus as a people represented by arbitrary,opportunistic power to which merit andstandards are of no particular concern.We now have new raw data in the form of a firstperson account of what, under the veneer ofdemocratic political process, our politics reallylooks like. It ain't pretty but it is ours.So, despite our huge investment in denial, it would serve us better if, after we're done beating up onthe messenger of our mess, we would look into the mirror and ask: "So what are you going to doabout it?"Hopefully the political scientists at UWI already know what they're going to do. The Baptiste-Cornelisexperience is rich material for a research project designed to bring greater clarity and understandingof our representation-resistant politics, masquerading as a variant of the Westminster system.In those 37 minutes, the former lecturer of the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business provideda truly rare and privileged view into the nature of the political beast that we are up against, rippingapart the sham of democratic process and revealing arbitrary power in all its glorious nakedness.For fifty years we have been knocking our heads, trying to understand why the Westminster systembequeathed to us by the departing British has been failing us so badly; why we remain so powerlessand trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with our politics.Why, with all the trappings ofdemocracy—free and fair elections and parliament and all—the will of the people is reduced to theimpotence of a dipped index finger once every five years.Lloyd Best, long ago, gave us a fully explicated theory of how and why, but we have needed learningmoments like this one to see in concrete terms what he so easily grasped in the abstract. Having
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Painful but precious in its truth | Trinidad Express New...http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Painful...1 of 405/08/2012 12:26 PM
 
provided such an opportunity, Baptiste-Cornelis should now go on to pen her political memoir of realpolitik T&T style. Our politics needs to be informed by more than zeppo and grapevine; we need her tobreak the pact of secrecy that binds the cohorts of power. So Madame, please tell us more!It is good, too, that in her casual innocence, Baptiste-Cornelis has pushed us to the point of pain. If wecould hold on to the hurt and trace it back to its origin, we might find that it leads to a deep,unexpressed love for this place. And because love brings compulsions of its own—often dangerousones—we have preferred to bury it under a flippant cynicism, afraid that it might ask more of us thanwe feel able to give. But what if we did allow ourselves to become articulate about our love for thisplace? And what if we found that, having done so, we could release the energy for its demands onus?Can we not sense that with every fall down the spiral of possibility, what Trinidad and Tobago is reallyasking from us is a declaration of love of an order higher than that which we proclaim?Now that the undiplomatic diplomat has helped us to know better, are we still willing to be countedamong the cheering masses, mere grist for the political mill?Will we still pour praise and stain ourfingers for now-for-now politicians who got on the ticket because the leader called them to service onemad night? Will we still refuse to scrutinise credentials for cabinet duty and fitness to act on ourbehalf? Will we demand no guarantees about expertise in dispensing our resources representing us tothe world?This is the culture of collective unresponsibility that has given rise to the political phenomenon ofwhich Baptiste-Cornelis is only an extreme example. She is no aberration; just a logical outcome.Yes, she scares us, but only because she presents the awfulness of a truth we would wish to deny inour pretence to be a sophisticated electorate in a fully functional democracy, led by real leaders,capable of change and of taking the world by storm.The truth is that we are a people easily fooled, not because we're not smart, but because of ourcapacity for self-delusion as a means of escape from the effort required to act on our own behalf.It is the hallmark of our disempowerment that we are willing to accept that our world is completelybeyond our control, rather than exert ourselves to let change in. So much better that we start fromearly to line up the bobolees to beat when things go wrong. As they surely will.First we invite them to 'fool me nah!'; then we complain 'they fool we!'What does it say about the representational aspect of our politics that it repeatedly throws up leaderswho know so little about the country and its people? If we think better of ourselves, how then do weexplain the crop of leaders we repeatedly end up with as representatives of us?What does it say about us that having exercised our right to vote, we must stand bypowerless,watching government after government become a train wreck?In our impotence, we resort to the standard weapons of the disempowered: character assassinationand personal humiliation. We boo, we spread rake, unable to access institutional tools for initiatingchange.Based on the current explosive levels of impotent outrage, the forecast now can only be for plentymore booing. If not worse.Still, all is not lost.In our defence, we should admit that, relatively speaking, we are new to the exercise ofself-responsibility for which political independence is merely one conducive condition.We can also admit that our history of material dispossession makes us prime targets for bribery and,therefore, for early compromise and quick surrender.
Painful but precious in its truth | Trinidad Express New...http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Painful...2 of 405/08/2012 12:26 PM

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