Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A path out of mayhem and murder

On my way to a river lime ('cause it In We Blood, if you know what I mean), but since you asked for a quick statement, here is, until I have time to review what is being said.
The Paris experiences in the midst of the attacks both within and outside UNESCO have made very real to me how fragile is a democracy, and how one or a few misguided individuals can precipitate violent extremist behaviour that is damaging to an entire country or the world. On the other hand, it also brought home to me the need to focus on areas of my much neglected private life, which I am trying to do, for there were times, caught near the attacks and in the ensuing panic aftershocks following the November 13th Paris attacks, I was not even sure if I would make it back home.
I am not a political football, nor ever envisioned being the subject of the latest episode of the national soap opera of slash and burn when I accepted the requests and nominations to serve by legitimate established processes including to serve as Chair of the Education Commission in a process that began at UNESCO in April 2015.
At a time when school children are being murdered, butchered, brutalised, raped and executed on our streets, and schools are increasingly becoming zones of violence and bullying, amidst a host of social ills and economic woes, it is astounding that persons have the time to train rhetorical and metaphorical guns on me, a citizen.
There seems to be a lot of misinformation in circulation that could easily be resolved through dialogue if officials wish to be so engaged, without turning all into a national and international circus. As our leaders set the national agenda, they ought to be sensitive to how their actions impact the society and youths and those who are looking for role models and patterning their behaviours on what they see being played out at senior levels.
I have not yet had the opportunity to examine what was said from the Hansard and I have no intention of engaging with anyone in a ‘he said, she said’ battle as I have been trying to recoup my energies as it was an extremely traumatic situation within UNESCO and outside with the Paris attacks.
When one is abroad it is the national flag one waves. I assure the national community that at all times I sought and received the best possible guidance from UNESCO officials and colleagues to manage some very precipitous situations not just in relation to the Trinidad and Tobago delegation, but other countries’ as well, with internal issues and strife much greater than what we profess to have.
UNESCO has a vast array of experience as a competent organisation charged with ‘building peace in the minds of men and women’ with a lot of experience in managing such situations and I was fortunate to benefit from that expertise in piloting through the challenges being presented as a national in an international environment and I thank the UNESCO officials for this. This was to ensure that the integrity of the established processes were maintained for shaping the UNESCO Global Education Agenda to 2030, which included addressing the rising violence and extremism in societies, failure and drop out rates, the digital divide, illiteracy, and poverty and disempowerment. To all reports those interventions were well administered and well received and there is a solid and forward looking global education agenda to the year 2030 with budgetary provisions that was adopted by international consensus.
UNESCO is a rich arena for workable solutions to many of these social ills that are not just localised to Trinidad and Tobago and energies of those attending the meetings should have been focused on harnessing those opportunities to maximum benefits they could bring home. Perhaps there could have already been pre-emptive interventions implemented to begin stemming this haemorrhaging of our youths in bloody attacks. Perhaps one or two of those lives that have been taken over the past weeks could have been saved, had such energies been redirected to find solutions. Paris itself is a city with a history of struggle in carving, developing and building the world's democratic traditions, as Trinidad and Tobago could well be too.
 One expects that when there are so many demands on our resources, that our country and its leaders are refocusing energies to harvest every opportunity and harness every talent, skill and experience in trying to tide through very challenging social and economic situations and utilise the invaluable opportunities of being at a space as UNESCO, overflowing with visionary solutions for many of these social ills and help positively impact the national psyche.
This is what I am trying to do at the moment, drawing on international knowledge and experiences, those within UNESCO and in the context of the Paris attacks to examine and identify avenues for impacting the levels of violence and extremism and other social ills in our societies. One’s perspectives on life changes when one comes so close to near death, you see, and there were times I was not sure that I would see home again so I have never been so appreciative of meh friends and family and dem, and meh people, people.
As with all my other undertakings, I have tried to perform tasks assigned to me in relation UNESCO to the best of my abilities and to hold up my country in the best possible light in those functions. I hope that I would have contributed something to enlightening and enriching those spaces as they have augmented my life experiences.
None of my work over the last three decades, as a journalist, nor my involvement in strengthening civil society, national and international multilateral and international processes is dependent on the politics of the day, nor the office, nor title I hold which I view as mere transient spaces to be utilised, not to own as one’s private or individual serfdoms, although it is important that the political process understand, engage and dialogue to ensure that benefits are consolidated for the best roll out for the society. I imagine that that was how they have been using the time in Parliament.
I continue to wish the Honourable Ministers and Government every success

Postscript:  I am on private time at the moment, much needed after some 30 uninterrupted years in public virtually round the clock. Could hardly bring myself to listen to the Parliamentary records just based on the feedback I am getting. My work speaks for itself. 
Devoting much needed time to close friends and family only for some much needed regeneration of spirits and re- immersion in my country in perhaps the best season to so do, Carnival.
Hope and trust the public can respect that. Will revert with responses when I feel sufficiently renergised to resurface.
I continue to wish the Ministers and Government every success, and a happy Carnival to all.

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