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TALK, TYPE, WRITE – Just help to lift us

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There is certainly no shortage of comment, in the traditional and non-traditional media, informed and not-so-informed, on topics ranging from the narrow parochial to bigger ones with international implications. Judging by the volume of comments, we seem to have experts on just about everything.

The pity is that the content of those voluminous comments reveal that it is not so much informed, educational and uplifting, as personal and politically partisan, even misleading at times. For a country struggling with development issues in the 21st century, we appear to be shooting ourselves in the foot, proverbially speaking.{{more}}

Weekly, daily, by the minute even, there is a multiplicity of issues requiring informed intervention and guidance, from those in the best position to do so. What is more, is that we do take pride in our intellectual stock, both the recent products of our educational revolution and their predecessors. Whether home-based or in the diaspora, there is no doubt that we possess a pretty impressive store of human resources, persons qualified in a wide range of fields.

Our country has produced economists, engineers, social scientists, persons who have excelled in all kinds of areas. The challenge is how best to deploy them, and to utilize their talents, both in the public and private sectors in the best interests of the country as a whole. It cannot just be a matter of fulfilling personal ambitions, but how to match these with the overall development goals of the society and in so doing to uplift the rest of the society as a whole.

We have not been too successful in this regard, neither in the public nor private sectors. As a result, there is a widening gap between the educated and qualified personnel and the rest of the society and we have not been able to begin to bridge that gap. Worse, rather than help to clarify, provide informed guidance and direction, too many of our intellectuals are either silent, or pander to positions they know not to be factually based, for one reason or another.

This is a world in which formidable challenges confront us, challenges which many of us, not adequately trained, find difficulty in understanding. But populism, ill-informed comment and emotionalism rule the roost. Just think of the direction which could have been given if those with the knowledge had participated effectively in guiding us on such issues as the cross-country road, the construction of the international airport at Argyle, the bridge over the Rabacca river, to name a few.

We had an exhaustive national debate on constitutional reform, yet were we not sold short when those best equipped with the knowledge on constitutional and legal matters either were not sufficiently proactive in providing guidance or engaged in narrow politicking on issues which went far beyond the partisan political pale?

Since 2008, our country, like others in similar position, have been struggling to overcome the legacy of the global economic and financial crisis. Not many of us are economists, nor experts in the field of finance, so it would have been much appreciated if the experts could have spoken, written or typed something to enhance our understanding of the issues, not just to make partisan comment in one way or another.

There is climate change, a very real threat to vulnerable societies like ours; sustainable energy, including the proposed geo-thermal initiative; global trade issues; the debt trap; and a range of social issues. How many contributions, of substance, do we get, especially those with no or little access to the Internet, to enable us to comprehend these issues and respond to them, outside the ULP/NDP context?

We desperately need the guidance of our intellectual army to help to broaden our vision and develop our confidence in grappling with the complex issues of today’s world. To be fair, often persons are reluctant to offer opinions given the viciousness of our political culture, but we have to find ways to deal with it. Even the basics can help.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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