A reminder of the way we live

There was something ironic about the late night/early morning deluge that brought business in Georgetown to a near crippling halt on Wednesday. While we have not yet been able to count our losses arising out of the inability of large numbers of both established merchants and street traders to do business, the extent of our vulnerability must surely have been laid bare by the chaos wrought by the filth-infested river which the deluge left on some of our major thoroughfares. Not since the floods of 2005 have our main streets been so crippled. The sight of store owners desperately trying to remove the garbage-infested pools of water (it may well have been their own garbage, in many instances) from their stores and the downtown vendors marooned on the limited spaces which were unaffected by the flooding must surely have reminded us that when all is said and done what happened on Wednesday is far too high a price to pay for the privilege of an unending and now altogether sterile debate as to  who is responsible for the state of our city.

It may well be that other factors would have helped to contribute to the refusal of the waters to go away long after the rains had ceased. In the final analysis, however, the presence of the myriad piles of garbage travelling like fragile barges on the floodwaters, served as a manifestation of our own considerable contribution to the debacle.

The fact that this time around the flooding and the filth coincided with the start of the accelerated commercial pursuits that attend the celebration of Christmas ought, surely, to be a lesson to us. The lesson is that we cannot live this way. All of us: the merchants and vendors who remain unmindful of their sickening garbage-disposal habits; the average citizen whose nonchalant disposal of Styrofoam food and drink receptacles have cumulatively created a separate crisis of enormous proportions; a municipality, hobbled as much by its own ineptitude as by the vicissitudes of a sterile political discourse with central government over whose fault it is to a central government seemingly too preoccupied with various mundane matters to put their energies into simply helping to put this Humpty Dumpty of a capital back together again; simply must begin to blame ourselves, to varying degrees and to collectively conclude that it is simply unacceptable for us to allow ourselves to live this way anymore.

So that we know now that the various anticipated responses, from whatever quarter (private sector, government or municipality) they might come can do no more than trigger another frenetic round of irrelevant debate that never really gets to the real heart of the matter and which, by the time it spends itself, induces a loss of memory as to what it is we are debating in the first place. Meanwhile, we appear not to be nearly as mindful as we ought to be of the environmental, commercial and health-related damage that we continue to inflict on our capital. We cannot go on living like this.

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