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Interesting times

Interesting times

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There is an old expression, usually associated with the Chinese, that when translated to English means “may you live in interesting times.”

On the surface, it seems like a harmless or well-meaning pleasantry that one party might extend to another. In actuality, the expression is ambiguous and its ambiguity hinges on the word “interesting”, since interesting could be used to describe times fraught with chaos, famine, war, and great troubles in general. The opposite is peaceful, or boring, since that is essentially what peace would mean.

Currently, it feels as if we are living in interesting times, especially since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Among other things, his election ushered in a period of much anxiety and unease, mainly because many were unsure as to what type of leadership to expect from him. Thus far, Trump has not done much to assuage that anxiety. He has not conducted himself in a manner that would assure other world leaders that he is rational, reliable, consistent, or even a statesman. He has engaged in missile rattling with the president of North Korea. Every Monday morning there is a new scandal, every Friday afternoon a new crisis. Additionally, the White House seems to have a revolving door, with many of Trump’s staff either having resigned or having been fired. His ascendency to the helm of a major world super power has many biting their fingernails, scratching their heads, palming their faces.

Recently, reports have emerged of him having made some very disparaging comments about immigrants from countries, and a continent, whose populations consist of predominantly brown or black folks. These comments haven’t been denied outright, and they have made their way around the world with great speed. They highlight his ignorance, lack of compassion and, some would argue, his bigotry. What’s more and very unfortunate, his utterances embolden the worse type of racist nationalism in sections of the population of the USA, a country that has stood as a beacon for people who are forced to leave their homelands for various reasons and who want to make a better lives for themselves. These days, with Trump in charge, America does not seem very open or welcoming.

We, in the Caribbean have received nothing more than neglect, so far, from the Trump administration. Perhaps it is the best that we could hope for. Better the tyrant not really pay you any attention than turn his gaze your way, I guess. Nevertheless, we would be naïve to assume that his politics, his policies and his bigotry would not affect us in some way. Scores of Caribbean citizens who have made their homes in the USA could face the brunt of his xenophobic policies, if they are enacted. His disregard for climate change could lead to dire consequences for vulnerable states like ours. We should pay attention, and gird our shorelines.

We are definitely living in interesting times. In the Caribbean, especially, we should turn our eyes with interest to the news from the North and check the temperature of the wind, and hunker down as this tempest Trump rages on. Hopefully, soon, at the end of all of this, we will be happy to have extended periods of uninteresting times, because heaven knows we need it and the whole world needs it.

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