Are the foundations of our democracy being shattered?
During my years as a teacher the subject I enjoyed teaching most was General Paper. I was recently looking at the
books I used. Among them were Straight and Crooked Thinking and Lines of Thought. The aim was to provoke thought and discussion and to exercise creative and critical powers. There were exercises in reasoning – “My sister in law is unmarried, can you tell whether I am married or not?”. Students were asked to explain the logical error in a number of statements – “Education is the teaching of truth; truth is everywhere the same; therefore, education should be everywhere the same.” I use the above as a context for what I will say next. Our education system today needs to emphasize critical thinking. Its absence is blatantly obvious when we follow the political conversations of our recent graduates and our people generally.
Illogic reigns supreme. Good governance and the foundations of our democracy are being turned up sided down in a society that has been more exposed to education, formal and informal, than ever before. There are areas that should really be essential parts of our conversation but about which, unfortunately, we seem to pay little attention or if we do, we go into the realm of the illogic and applaud what is totally absurd. It is as though the season has captured and turned us into zombies. Why are we boasting of having increased the number of people on Poor Relief, while arguing that the economy is robust? Even more amazing is the fact that some people are applauding this.
Additionally, our unemployment figures, especially among young people, remain alarmingly high, yet we are told about the amazing number of jobs that have been created. Figures from the Financial Institutions, regionally and internationally, with whom we are affiliated, paint a picture of an economy that is far from being robust. The point I want to stress here is that these issues should be a critical part of our conversation. They are pre-Covid! To what extent are we contemplating the challenges of a post-Covid environment, especially in the short run?
We seem to be operating here as if Covid is not a major issue and my worry is that it is creating a false sense of security. I dare to say that until the US gets its situation under control, we are always going to be vulnerable. The fear is that this atmosphere could extend even beyond the end of year. Have we given thought to what we are going to do, particularly in the hotel and tourism industry? Have task forces been set up to examine the road ahead? What we have been doing is giving all our attention to the demands of the Silly Season. Things that have not been done in five years, or in some cases 20 years, are being hurriedly done, almost overnight. Was this because of a lack of will or lack of resources? The lack of will tells its own story. If it was lack of resources, then we have to ask serious questions about the use of ‘Covid’ money.
The absence of accountability, a critical aspect of good governance, stands out. We are being asked to show our appreciation for the goodies that have been handed out and the best way of doing that, seemingly, is by marking an X. Is this what we have come to? Why can we not have a discussion on how our country and people have developed over the past five years? Only then can plans for the next five years make sense. The threat of the pandemic, especially during this hurricane season, should have provided an opportunity to unite the country. Instead politics rips us further apart and all that matters, seemingly, is what will happen when the bell rings and we are called to order.
Are we expected to be thankful when a road that should have been fixed five years ago is hurriedly done overnight? Is this supposed to be translated into a vote?
l Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian