bother to spend precious time awakening the conscience of
citizens, some of whom prefer to live in a state of blissful
If we continue to accept the nonsense and insanity
that has now become the order of the day, then really, whats
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
Had they asked themselves whats 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 whats
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.
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
When asked to move to the back of the bus, Rosa Parks could
have said to herself whats 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.
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 didnt 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, couldnt 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 dont 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 partys 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 whats 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
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 whats 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