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Tipping points

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Have we achieved the vision of Independence—the idea of a vibrant and successful nation whose people invested their energies to build it guided by the watchwords “discipline, production, and tolerance?”
It would be thoughtless to deny the substantial progress since Independence although we have not scaled the heights of El Cerro del Aripo. In present time, virtually all citizens have access to an education, health services, potable water, own homes and other necessities, and many businesses have flourished creating wealth for their owners and the country. We are still among the wealthiest nations in the region and attractive to investors.

There were tipping points that led to the 1970 uprising and the 1990 attempted coup. In 1970 it was social injustice, deafness to the voices of the people and corruption. Years later in 1990, the Government had failed to heed warnings of an imminent insurrection, and there was procrastination by the Police Service and ineptness. It is why we should never take for granted the social inequity that corruption breeds, the weaknesses in the Police Service and National Security, and the growth of armed gangs.

The tipping point of the next catastrophe stares us down. Criminal gangs operating in this infinitesimal land mass numerically rival law enforcers on duty and they have fangs in all sectors of society. The tendency to think they only take out each other is begging for bloody trouble.

We have not modernized the systems supporting the delivery of essential services, and which are necessary to achieve the orderly development of society–a society with waywardness embedded in its DNA. It is not that the policymakers did not have viable plans to transform the culture from indiscipline to one with respect for law and order, excellence and innovation. Implementation of sound policies was stymied by incompetence.

Opportunities are also staring at us. The land holds excellent promise for the exploitation of agriculture if we are to reverse the high food importation bill and create jobs in agro-based industries with opportunities to increase exports. There are many other prospects for investments in technologies that are shaping the future of other societies. The digitization of matter or 3D printing is creating physical materials instantaneously and transforming building industries. Incredible advances are happening while we are spending billions of dollars to build mega highways blind to the fragility of surrounding ecosystems only to reap worsening flooding disasters rather than the development of sustainable communities. Existing infrastructure rots and reveals the dearth of wisdom in the allocation of scarce financial resources.

The expanding world of technology in education, government and business is an indication of the future direction of progressive societies. The internet is a robust societal influencer that challenges parochial methods of teaching, parenting and law enforcement.

In education, analytics and data are guiding reforms in teaching and learning, especially among children at risk. On other fronts, countries have moved apace with recycling, even running out of rubbish and creating economies by importing other countries’ garbage to recycle. Some are achieving targets in solar energy and reducing their electricity cost. With all the advancement in science and technology everywhere, art and culture remain vibrant earners of tourism dollars. Here, the curtain of riveting street theatre has closed, and the wittiness of hilarious double entendre has morphed to boorishness symbolical of the lowest denominator in standards.

The Government has to reflect and drag whatever competencies it possesses to the fore to inspire confidence in its stewardship. It has to share a vision that would energise us. It has found itself in the same old rot as past governments; with an increasing chasm between itself and the people, and rising crime—tipping points. It still has an opportunity to reverse the negative trend more so as it hasn’t occurred to the Opposition that the country is choking on backward opposition politics—oppose.

We will get nowhere unless we switch gears from the constancy of backwardness. A bright future awaits.


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