Tuesday, September 28, 2004

S/he made me do it!

Those are possibly the most annoying words that I hear. And I hear them more and more, over and over. S/He made me drunk and then took advantage of me. They made me go to the party when I didn't want to. They made me do this, they made me do that.

Well - I always want to ask - did they hold you down and pour alcohol down your throat, or inject it in your veins? If so, then you're right, and we need to call the police. If not - then it was your decision.

Why is it that so many people (especially young women) are so uncomfortable with the decisions that they make that they have to put the responsibility on others? Why do they want to have adult rights and privileges without the responsibilities? OK - I know the answer to that one. It was rhetorical. But I do think that it seems to be turning into a virtual epidemic.

When one makes bad decisions and takes responsibility for them, part of the effect that I believe that this has on one is the lessons learnt. If nothing bad is your fault, if you never make a mistake, then where is the learning opportunity?

And of course, what is bad?

If it is necessary to absolve oneself of responsibility for a night out, then maybe what you did on that night out does not sit right with you, with your ethics, with your morals. If you have to have the excuse of being totally plastered to hook up with someone, then I think you need to take a good look at yourself and what you really want. Because if you want it and you think it's right, you don't need an excuse to do it. You won't be ashamed.

And that's what it's really about in the social world of Trinidad and Tobago. It's a small society, and there are many very small, petty, bourgeois rules in that society. That's why so many girls look for excuses to do what they see on cable TV, what they see others do in other societies, what on one hand they're told they should do to be cool, but on the other hand they're told "that's not right, that's cheap and slutty." So they do it, but slough off the decision. If they didn't make the decision, then they are just unlucky, not deliberately cheap.

So what should they do? I say - spend time with yourself, learn yourself, and then do what you think is right. To hell with "What town say". And I try to do it myself. But it is hard. I know that most people won't be able to do it. But somehow I still think that they are hypocrites and cowards. I feel bad sometimes for being so harsh and judgmental, because as John Locke says:
He that judges without informing himself to the utmost that he is capable, cannot acquit himself of judging amiss.

But truth and honesty are so necessary in this life. And they are in such short supply right now, I feel the need to push for honesty and integrity in all areas. Push hard. Maybe sometimes too hard.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bits and pieces

Wow - I have had so many ideas to write on that I had paralysis - I didn't write anything at all. So I've decided to list what ideas are bubbling, and then I'll do it in order (pretty much)

  1. Journalists in T&T (are there any?)
  2. Feminism and race. Do we spend time looking for discrimination where there isn't any?
  3. Personal responsibility - why do we so often say - S/he MADE me do it? Was there a gun to your head?
  4. Apathy - why do I see so many people complaining every day, every street corner, etc., but never do anything, not even complain to the people who are making the "bad" decisions?
  5. Lack of compassion and caring - Grenada is in a total mess, but there is actually a large and vocal group in this country that says - fix us first before sending our $$ to help them! Unbelievable!
  6. 9 day wonders - we live in a land that has had an MTV attention span long before MTV!
  7. AND Cricket - lovely cricket. We won the Champions Cup. The team looked like a team. Lots of work still to do, but we would (as a people) still have abused the team if they got to the final but lost. What is it that we have with this obsession for first - nothing else counts?

OK - lots to think about. I'll try to write at least every other day, now that I've clarified some of the ideas.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Shaping a Secure Society

Yesterday the Fulbright Alumni Association of Trinidad and Tobago, of which I am currently PRO, held a panel discussion on "Shaping a Secure Society". Many very intelligent people gave their views on the causes of crime and lack of security in our world, globalisation, and possible solutions. BUT there is one thing that they really never got to. The issue that I think is the meat of the problem - lack of long-term life expectancy.

Consider a hypothesis:

A 14 year old boy growing up in a depressed area. Life expectancy in the inner cities and similar areas is low - http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/314/7089/1271 - therefore there is a "discount factor " that needs to be applied. Simply put, children growing up in these areas don't thnk that they will live long.

So - let's assume that the hypothetical 14 year old boy wants what we all want - friends, family, a decent salary, ability to purchase the better things in life.

Given that he expects to die before 30, can we possibly expect him to intelligently make any decision towards a career that will require him to be in school for years? Or would it make more sense for him to drop out of school at 15, go to "work" in a gang (here he gets family, friends, "brothers" to watch his back and take care of him, more than decent money) and by the time he would normally be expected to graduate high school, be earning enough to get what he wants - a BMW, a house for his mom, maybe?

I know that as an intelligent person - if this were put to me - it makes no sense whatsoever to stay in school and get a degree and go to work in a junior position with lots of school loans to pay off. Especially if I KNOW I won't live long enough to pay off these loans and start enjoying the benefits. In this situation, joining a gang is the most intelligent choice. The reason that we don't understand this is that for most of us, life is precious and we want to cling to it and live long lives.

In my opinion, the discount applied to life expectancy by children in the inner city is a major factor in the lack of success of many anti-gang initiatives. What's the point of not being in a gang so that you won't get killed, when you get killed anyway - by the police, by gangs, by drive-by shootings, by poor health care? Better be in a gang and get the benefits while you are alive.

Last night, at the panel discussion, there were many comments on the lack of vision in these youth. I disagree. There is a vision. It just isn't as long term as ours would be. The problem we face is to replace this gang and drug-related career vision with another equally valid one.

And going to school and studying hard isn't it right now.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bloggers - please use English!

As you probably have noticed I have a major issue with the misuse of English, especially in blogs and email. Sometimes I do split my infinitives - I'm not a total tight-arse, but...
This is a really nice blog about English grammar and good writing in your blog. Everyone should read it and consider. At least those who write in English. Other writers should take the lessons to heart as well.

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