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HEARING WITHOUT LISTENING By Ken Howell

posted 26 Apr 2019, 06:31 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 26 Apr 2019, 06:44 ]
Image result for trinidad police in action
"Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words like silent raindrops fell..."

The evidence is clear. The population is under severe stress and as a result, our ability to hear or listen is compromised. A few examples will be sufficient in order to make the point. Following a police involved shooting in Laventille, and the uproar which erupted, the Commissioner of Police issued orders to the effect that the police officers must exercise the one shot one kill policy in situations where it is believed that their lives are threatened.

Then there was the commentary by the Member of Parliament for San Juan Barataria, Dr Fuad Khan on the plus size Carnival reveller. He said that he described the lady as a fat Tub, because he wanted to cause people to become more aware of obesity and to cause them to do something about it.

But it is also necessary to add to the mix, the protest action which occurred in the depressed community of Laventille over what they perceived was an execution of the young men which the police had carried out. I cite these examples to make the point that in all of these instances, what we heard was the Commissioner telling the police to kill them, Dr Khan call she a fat Tub, and those people in Laventille supporting crime. Because we did not and do not listen anymore.

Even if we don’t agree with what we are hearing it is still important to listen. By listening, we are able to arrive at a deeper understanding of the underlying issues which might have led to the individual or organisation forming the opinion or arriving at the conclusion which they have.

If politicians listen, they will learn much more than they have been able to. But they fail to listen because of the desire on their part to constantly tell us what they think we want to hear. The Commissioner of Police and Doctor Khan are politicians. They both believe that they have the solutions to the social problems facing the nation. That might be the case. But in order to determine the correctness of one’s position, it is always safer to test it on the constituency that is likely to be the focus of the particular enterprise.

This is achieved by holding discussions with the people in order to get their views on the particular programme. But what we have in this country is the tendency to hold consultations; instead of public conversations in which the views of the population are taken seriously by ensuring that the conversation begins at the village level, so that all the concerns of the population are taken into account. But from the premise from which the two gentlemen proceeded, clearly the Commissioner believed that since he had the right in law to issue orders, he is under no obligation to listen to any other voice but his own.

In the case of the goodly Doctor, since in his last incarnation as a Minister of Health he had initiated a campaign against non-communicable diseases, all he had to do was to unleash an attack on an unsuspecting plus size female reveller and the population would rally against obesity. That is precisely the attitude which those in authority display on a daily basis. That is the attitude of the ruling class, some of the trade union leaders and politicians on both side of the political divide.

For example, when they go into the depressed communities, what they hear is the cry of the residents concerning the fear of the prevalence of crime in their respective communities. But they do not listen for the voices which propose practical solutions to their respective problems. If they do, they will hear of the high incidence of poverty; of the single parents; of the children who are unable to go to school because their parents are unemployed; of the fact that unemployed families are trapped in a web of dependence on the Drug Lord, who controls the lives of the members of the community.

By listening, they would begin to understand why the youths who experience these conditions, in trying to find a way out of the state of
Image result for poverty in laventille poverty, are sucked into a life of crime because they form the view that they have been abandoned by society. As a result they see themselves in opposition to everything which the society represents. That is why they place no value on life; including their own life. By cultivating such a mentality and combining it with an involvement in the illegal drug trade, it culminates into a life of crime.

And because of the nature of the society, crime is seen as a business. It is characterised as the underground economy. And while the underground economy continues to destroy the lives of the youth, it acts as a brake on the development of any progressive or revolutionary ideas among the youths. That is why there is a lot of controversy concerning the provision of government contracts to Gang Leaders. So instead of providing lasting, viable solutions to the problems facing these communities; one shot one kill, is the only solution that the government can come up with.

Because we do not listen, we are unable understand that the old system of government cannot meet the needs of the citizenry. If we only listen we will begin to understand that although the electorate gives to the elected members of the Parliament a mandate to govern and to manage the society, it is always necessary to tap into the wisdom of the population to ensure that the action of government is providing the necessary solutions which the population is expecting to receive.

If the politicians would only listen, they would hear the level of dissatisfaction which the citizens are expressing, because of the inefficiencies which they have been experiencing when they visit public institutions. They would also hear the concerns of their supporters who believe that they are entitled to be rewarded for their vote, because, in their view, it was their votes which put the politicians into government.

They would hear their supporters saying: the government not doing anything for us. Therefore, because of their failure/refusal to listen to the cry of the population, they do not know that a hurricane of dissatisfaction is likely to engulf the country because of their failure to listen. Because of this defect in the DNA of pro capitalist politicians and the world view which we have been nurtured to accept that capitalism is true democracy, we continue to elect into office crooks and vagabonds. We have been thought to hear but not how to listen.
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