We have all felt it. An unnamed anxiety. Its got to
do with these tiny islands. Some people have called it the
nausea of living in a fish bowl in which the cadavers of dead
Those immune to this anxiety live for shots of the endless
round of spectacle, of holidays in which the waist moves and
the head remains empty: wine at fetes, wine at carnival, wine
at Christmas, wine at cricket, wine at demonstrations.
Our lives in summary:
Brutal executions; bullets in the head downtown; the bones
of a brutalised teenager; unstoppable fires; filth on the
streets and highways; 500,000 illiterate; 500,000 living below
the poverty line; falling oil prices; oil and gas corporations
easing out; escaping prisoners; mushrooming gun-toting gangs;
a record murder high (averaging more than one a day); the
everyday terror of kidnappings of children, women, men and
The menacing underworlds bullet-riddled, Government-
supported, hand-out system (Cepep, URP); the highest incidence
of Aids after Sub-Saharan Africa; discrimination so oil wealth
is being poured down the drain to bribe voters to maintain
the political status quo; no productivity; marginalising of
an entire increasingly impoverished ethnic group, laid off
by the thousands and systematically dumped out of the States
safety net; an Opposition without moral authority; an even
more corrupt Government; a brain drain that ranks third in
the world, leaving behind dregs of only the tenacious and
those without options to carry on.
Just this week at St Marys College, a 13-year-old boy
sitting in his classroom calling his father after school hours
suddenly saw black. A bag was put over his head and his cell
phone snatched out of his hand. This is symptomatic of a country
that shuts its eyes between taking a wine.
We can only live here if we pretend its happening to
someone else on TV, if we tell ourselves the menace of the
child rapist, contract killer, the gangsta children is mimic.
So what do the TV-mimic-unreal-wining-shutting-their-eyes-against-reality
Remember Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrolls brilliant
book on the adventures of Alice, which begins when she follows
the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole? He is a messenger and
a herald at the Court of the King and Queen of Hearts. He
wears a waist-coat, carries a pocket watch and represents
the yes men. Just as baffling is the bizarre logic
at work in Wonderland.
Every creature can justify the most absurd behaviour, their
defence arguments meaningless. Their strange reasoning is
another source of delight for the reader and challenge for
Alice. She has to learn to discern between unusual logic and
We inhabit a country in which Mad Hatters from parties fling
tea cups at one another, while a king screams licks
for all criminals (who have escaped, are on bail and
have already murdered and kidnapped, so licks are as ineffective
as flies to them). Equally the queen speaks bafflingly of
breakfasses and exposes children to a wining calypsonian
during a march against crime, against her own king.
The king orders an investigation into the queens education
kingdom. The challenger to the kingdom, the Cheshire cat,
face fixed in an eerie grin appears and disappears at random,
forgetful of his unrepresented people. The rest are a motley
crew of knaves who stand accused of stealing the States
tarts, a bribe in Tobago, a bribe in Oil, a bribe in Works,
and instead of being held accountable, accuse knaves of the
previous administration of misdeeds.
They all go free. No one resigns. The shrewdest lawyers gravitate
towards bestial criminals. No justice.
Alice's challenge is learn the rules of each new encounter,
but retain a sense of justice and survive the menace of and
the idiosyncrasies of the creatures she meets. Ours is to
do the same.
Decent law-abiding citizens are being squeezed in the wonderland
from the top by corrupt politicians who divide with race,
from the bottom by guns. No more cowering. Like Alice, we
too can tower over those who will terrorise us. Our power
lies in numbers. Think of what we can do with that.