Some well-intentioned citizens are trapped by a nectar of their own creation

Dear Editor,

There are new and revolutionary standards of conduct on display in this country.  Self-respect and the principled are out; ugly and shabby are considered good.  It is part of the continuing appalling classlessness that is as reflexive as it is pervasive.

First, there are the applauded and the sometimes admired, who take bold brave stands against the odds on the scorching issues of the day.  They should be complimented.  But not when there are errors of context, errors of content, errors of judgment, and errors leading to unnecessary conjecture, misplaced suspicion, and reputational damage.  The latter can be to one’s own self or the object of the original battery.  The intentions are to denigrate, score quick points (cheap ones), and titillate an already aroused crowd.  The problem is that once initiated through such squeezes, the toothpaste cannot be returned inside the tube.

Now in another era, not so distant, the honourable thing to do, the only decent step that was taken was to issue a retraction through an unqualified apology.  Well, that is of the past, and not in operation anymore.  In fact, such may be scorned and dismissed as being out of touch and a downright anachronism.  I must wonder: has this society become so modern, so cavalier (so degraded) in its own eyes that a simple correction, or withdrawal, or apology is viewed as effeminate, if not dishonourable?  I think it is more manly to own up to momentary lapses, than continue to plough ahead at full throttle, as though nothing of consequence did occur.

Next, there was that past action of the new Gecom chairman that was disinterred for public dissection and public revelry.  Before proceeding further, let me say again that I disagree with the appointment of the chairman in terms of the way it unfolded.  But I am perplexed and disturbed on any digging up this matter of him being a pallbearer: since when is the solemnity and dignity of a decent burial shattered and trampled upon for mileage of any kind, anywhere?  The attachment of that moment to criticism of any kind has to sink all of us to the bottom of the bottom, and perhaps beyond even there.  Where is the bottom of this nation’s depthless gutter?  That pallbearing can rise to the level of commentary, whether purposeful or incidental is more than mere aberration; it is an abomination.

Editor, there has to be some things, some places, and some obligations that are sacrosanct, and hence prohibited territory.  None should go there; especially the Pharisaical political class.  If pallbearing is indicative of egregious transgression, then by the same measurements, tragic and unending, I suppose it would be a sign of unfitness to weep; or to say sorry or thanks.  Such is the pathos of a place now long lost, and not even knowing so, perhaps not caring, too.

Then, there is the matter currently roiling an ever-receptive environment, and which involves developments at the Bishops High School.  The headmistress is under fire for ill-chosen, ill-timed words.  While I think she could have contextualized better, I will give her full credit for reacting (and react she did, possibly from her own rearing) in a time-honoured way dedicated to high standards, iron discipline, and soaring expectations.  I can identify with the BHS head, as that is my context, too.   What is her sin?  Is it for saying what everyone in this society retreats from facing and cowers from uttering?  Clearly, a grand sprawling hypocrisy flourishes in this country.

As if on cue, the pavement revolutionaries came out in force, as they took aim and sniped at a readymade convenient injustice.  Ask them to show some flesh and protest (even partner) for those close to them, or the educational delivery standards in general, and it is flight into oblivion.  It is considered sophisticated chic to rail publicly against this or that deficiency.  Make no mistake: there are those and more than is acceptable.

On the other hand, on matters closer to the hearth, there is conspicuous absence and conspicuous cowardice.  Citizens in this country are afraid to stand alone and face the music on their own.  There is only quick telltale shrinking; indeed, the cover of the herd brings false loud courage to the fore.

This, then, in three not-so-small snapshots is a composite of the ongoing impoverishment of societal standards and individual contributions to what pretends to be national conversations.  Some well-intentioned citizens have allowed themselves to be trapped in the nectar of intoxicants of their own creation.  And there they celebrate with Dionysian abandon.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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