Some time ago, I read an interesting post on the blog "Occasional Ramblings". It is titled, "To Die For" and explores what it means to be a patriot. It begins,
"I wonder just how many of us Trinbagonians would be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and die for our country?"I didn't comment because I wanted to think about what he had written. It's been at the back of my mind ever since and I realise that I didn't write earlier because I have no well thought out views on patriotism and what it means to be a patriot.
As I read Geoffrey Gonzalves' post, I got a sense of his frustration and it reflected the exasperation that most of us feel when obstacles to progress refuse to budge. Although it is not for us to know or to decide the time of another's exit from this world, the consolation is that eventually there will be no sidestepping Mister Basil, by surgical bypass or otherwise, when he comes for each of us.
Your question about whether there are Trinbagonians who would make the ultimate sacrifice, that is, to die for their country, is an interesting one. Apart from reminding me of that joke where the answer would be a resounding, "NO!! Ours is an undying love!" a question like that also highlights the neglect that has led to this environment where such drastic measures should even need be contemplated.
I'd like to think some more about your question and your thoughts but in the meantime I will ask another question, "Where are the Trinbagonians who, without any fanfare, are sharing the ultimate gift of LIVING for their country?" Among these are the ones who ARE highly competent and extremely civil servants, the ones who, in the face of the pall of pessimism, try to live productive and peaceful lives, the ones who hold on to their families and children, who love them and try to teach them what is right, the ones who do want to and do try to "vote dem out", the ones who (and I am certain that you belong to this group) are in fact keeping this country afloat by doing their parts to hold its corners together? They do not receive the international and national acclaim. They are not regarded as heroes. They are the unsung and steadily plodding draft horses who continue to pull this country along.
So whether the kamikaze patriots plan to join the guerillas plotting revolution up in the hills or resort to praying that an extremely unforgiving Grim Reaper will pay a timely visit to either or both of these leaders, just remember that these puppets are only the front men of the system in which we are all rooted. There is a reason why they remain where they are, and when they are no longer there, the reason will continue to exist unless we recognise its roots. What really will change if those leaders are removed? Who will they leave behind?....the same visionless people who are doing nothing now to take a meaningful stance.
Are we willing to LIVE for Trinbago? That is a less flamboyant and historically thankless calling.
The other thing is that I'm unwilling to cheer anyone's promotion of patriotism until I hear that person's definition of the concept. We can both point to examples of scoundrels in high and low places attempting to bash in the heads of their fellow men with the same poles upon which they wave their flags of patriotism and religious affiliation.
Ron Paul defines a patriot this way:
"The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self interest for himself, his family and the future of his country, to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state."Perhaps this is the definition which you support. I've embedded some video clips below in which Ron Paul elaborates on his views about patriotism and about how in the name of patriotism, populations can be made to accommodate blatant or surreptitious erosions of their rights and freedoms.
IN THE NAME OF PATRIOTISM (WHO ARE THE PATRIOTS?)
Hon. Ron Paul of Texas before the U.S. House of Representatives May 22 , 2007
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!