Collective Responsibility

In   Trinidad and Tobago, we have achieved much in 49 years and we do have much for which we should be grateful.  At the same time, our nation is facing its fair share of challenges.  Among our challenges is compliance with rules.  So many of us complain about the failure of fellow citizens to adhere to rules yet we regularly break rules ourselves.  When last I counted, everytime a light turns red at a major intersection, I count on average 2 cars that break the light.  Most of us know that you never go on green…you need to wait at least a few seconds.

By way of an anecdote, I was driving along a major road and someone emerged from a minor road to hit me on the side last April.  Their insurer offered to pay only 60% of the cost of repairing the vehicle I was driving.  The reason being that if it went to court, it is unlikely that the judge would award 100% because they could argue that even though a driver has the right of way, he should still be exercising caution when passing minor roads.  In fact, I have been told of cases when drivers were hit by someone breaking the red light and have not been awarded 100% of their claim because even if the light is green, one still should be cautious.  I found this to be interesting logic but quite practical given the reality of life on the island these days.  When undesirable events occur, it is rarely the fault of a single individual.  It is so unfortunate to say, but the inability to abide by the rules is as much a problem for those who sit in the highest of offices as for those who hold the humblest of offices.

Judging by recent public discourse, few would disagree with me if I say that we still prefer to point fingers at the government of the day.  Trinidad and Tobago remains a democratic society, but it seems as if we are yet to grasp the concept of collective responsibility.  Do not get me wrong, I am very far from being any apologist for the present government.  Fortunately, I have no board position, government contract, or anything that requires that I sing ever so sweetly for my supper.  The sobering truth however, is that a government, when democratically elected, is rarely the ‘cause’ of things we dislike, but usually, only a ‘reflection’ of the wider society that put them there.  For better or for worse, we are all to blame for where our country is.

As you know, I not just work in the tourism sector (I am now on a contract outside of Trinidad) but it is a sector about which I am extremely passionate.  I received a series of anonymous emails recently which I found refreshing because in one document, the tourism decision makers admitted that the marketing of destination Trinidad, Tobago, and Trinidad & Tobago continues to be ineffective and disjointed.  More importantly, they recognize their inability to measure the effectiveness of the funds they spend.  In fact, this very well written document leaves no doubt that decision makers are well aware of the deeper issues plaguing the sector.  This, together with yet another document calls for a proper master plan to be created and put in place.  Finally we can see the beginnings of a sector taking responsibility for its mistakes and preparing a viable way forward.  Well done!

An article published in another newspaper has gone viral online.  It does a great job of explaining the popular view of how we arrived at this juncture as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.  Citizens who are now governed under the borrowed strength of a State of Emergency.  Unfortunately, it paints the electorate as innocents somehow conned into handing power over to a government gone wrong.  At some point in time, we the people will need to take collective responsibility for the part we have all played in creating the present state of affairs.  When this happens, we will be ready for another type of politics.  Until then, we will continue to get the government we deserve. IRS Singapore

Nevertheless, I make no apologies for repeating what I said last week - it is clear that our nation is at an important crossroad in its brief history.  Now however, is not the time to point fingers.  Rather we need to come together, regardless of political party, race or religion.  We need to collectively work to create a nation about which we will all continue to be proud.  My name is Derren Joseph and I love my country and my region.  I continue to have the audacity of hope in the future of this beloved land.  Feel free to email me on


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