Friday 21st July, 2006


Dion Jeffers

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Dion Jeffers

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What’s the use?

“Why bother to spend precious time awakening the conscience of citizens, some of whom prefer to live in a state of blissful denial… If we continue to accept the nonsense and insanity that has now become the order of the day, then really, what’s the use? (Gillian Lucky, July 14, Guardian.)

Like many other countries and societies in the world, T&T laboured through the processes of many fundamental changes. The freedom and opportunities we enjoy today are as a result of the struggles of an optimistic minority who struggled for us.

Had they asked themselves “what’s the use?” then one can only imagine the type of world we would be living in today. What if some of our great heroes and icons had asked that question?

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King Jr was a civil rights activist, a very controversial figure in his time. He is famous for leading the great bus boycott in the US that lasted over a year. During this time there were many people who had no problems with being treated as second- and third-class citizens and defied the strike mandate.

King was arrested, persecuted and his home firebombed. He could have given in to the abuse and torture he received from all sectors. He could have asked “what’s the use?” and hung up his gloves. Instead, he fought oppression and when the bus boycott ended 382 days later, he got the laws of segregation on buses to be reversed.

Rosa Parks

A quiet, soft-spoken and diplomatic young woman was tired after a long day at work. All she wanted was to sit on the bus and reach home. The US laws at the time segregated blacks as the seats at the front of the bus were reserved for white people only.

When asked to move to the back of the bus, Rosa Parks could have said to herself “what’s the use?” and do like all the others who had no problem being in the back of the bus (although today many people rush to claim the back seats of vehicles). Instead, she stood firm against the laws of Jim Crow. The rest is history.

Audrey Jeffers

There was one woman who worked very hard for the underprivileged people of our country, who gave of her time and efforts freely so that those people may have an easier life. Her name was Audrey Jeffers.

She was born on Baden-Powell Street, Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, on February 12, 1898. She was born into an upper middle class family, a fact that did not deter her from her mission in life (Trinidad Guardian, August 1, 1998, page 41).

Jeffers didn’t have any need to be concerned with the people around her who were subjected to abject poverty. She was born into a well-to-do family and had things going for her. Regardless of whether the people in her neighbourhood were satisfied or contented with their socio-economic position, the fact remained that better could be done and she became the pioneer of many of the facilities we enjoy today.

A complex society

In the society, there exists a group of people who are complacent and contended. These are the people who live their lives comfortably without any thought for those around them and, as the adage goes, “couldn’t care if Sunday falls on a Monday.”

Then there are those who, because they lack the motivational fortitude to stand and be counted, remain contented simply because they don’t have the self-confidence to stand on their own and challenge issues.

And, of course, we cannot forget those who are so blinded by political affiliation that their party’s interest takes precedent over national development.

But the most important of them all is the optimistic minority.

The optimistic minority

These are the people who stand up and are counted. They challenge issues and effect change. Sometimes they themselves may ask “what’s the use?” because, as it is rightfully said, most times the end result is ingratitude. But are we to let this ingratitude get the better of us?

People like Lucky and the many countless unsung heroes, whether in public life or not, have a responsibility to T&T. We are the ones with the voice, we are the ones with the influential capacity to warrant the desired results that this country needs. We represent the voices of those who fall victim to cynicism because of their social situations and believe that they are powerless to act.

At the end of the day, we all live in T&T and regardless of how many are contented, there are many more who are not and the voice of the optimistic few must be indicative of that.

No society is ever perfect, but the optimistic few are the ones who see the bright future ahead and must work steadfastly to secure this.

Many of us experience denials at some points in our lives. It takes the optimistic minority to awaken our consciousness. The question “what’s the use?” should never even cross our minds.

Deon Jeffers is the chairman of the PNM Youth League

Contact NYL with comments at [email protected] or editorial committee, National Youth League, Balisier House, #1 Tranquillity St, Port-of-Spain








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