THE EDITOR: In these troublous times our minds are often confused by what passes for “truth” but is not worth the while to lift the lid a little to those truths and see what lies (no pun intended) beneath?
For example, Trinidad should be proud of its covid19 numbers: 116/8. The BBC has rated us and there is talk about emulating the “Caribbean way” in dealing with the virus.
But of the same statistics of which we are justly proud, are there questions to be asked? How authentic, one may ask, are these numbers considering the reported limited testing to date? And why not facilitate private institutions to assist instead of having them enmeshed in red tape of one kind or another?
Again why would people, reportedly, be reluctant to test? Is it because of a loss of trust and confidence in the process, considering the “horror” studies about quarantine conditions and the problems about testing, such as inaccurate results or the use of outdated swabs at the San Fernando General Hospital?
Are the attempts at dodging “covid19 tracking,” as reported by one female doctor in central, a clear indication of the public’s negative attitude?
On the same continuum, would the, authoritative, talk-down-to attitude adopted by some officials on the platform, laying down the rules and threatening punishment, even extending that approach into actually visiting vendors et al in their workplace in true headmaster-style, help to alienate a fairly disciplined public looking for a more information-based, persuasive approach?
And further, did the lack of proper example, not wearing masks while lambasting the public for not doing so, add insult to injury? And what about these same officials not doing enough to bring back nationals from abroad, as other countries like India were doing, the intense suffering of these abandoned nationals pitifully encapsulated in a telling letter in one of the dailies from a student abroad approximately 8,698 miles from home, wherever that may be, with seemingly no hope of ever returning home?
Is maintaining the numbers such an inflexible priority that our nationals must continue to languish abroad? And even for those here, must officials continue to follow the relatively easy policy of one size fits all and not do the hard work of clinically sifting where “starts” can be made to give back people their jobs and allow small businesses to thrive again?
The numbers are unquestionably important but isn’t there the other side, taking something of a manageable risk for the above? But if the hard line about the numbers continues, does it not provoke the inevitable question of a possible political undertone to appearing to manage the pandemic well, come the September 2020 election?
I write this way not to find fault with a fairly commendable effort but to make a small effort to instil in our people the need to avoid accepting things at face value and to lift the lid a little and ask questions about them.
It is hard I know, for we are a happy-go-lucky people, and in the politics blind loyalty based on the tribe has been our way. But maybe we can begin to grow by starting with the tenet: “All that glitters is not gold.”
DR ERROL N BENJAMIN