Dr. Fraser- Point of View
October 18, 2013

The Silly Season – Pappyshow Time!

Whenever I read newspapers from other Caribbean countries, I do so with SVG in mind and try to find out what lessons we can learn from them or to what extent their description of life in their particular countries is different from ours. I was attracted to the editorial of the Barbados Nation of October 16 and a few things struck me. The editorial was entitled “Speak but Speak Wisely”. It stated, “…Hopefully, we could be forgiven for being sombre today but recent developments within the country are giving us a sense of drift and lack of direction. Yesterday, Parliament met and hopefully the impression would have been given that something is at last happening… Someone has to take responsibility to give hope to the citizens of this country.{{more}} Barbadians are more educated and are more critical of leaders and institutions. In a sense there has been more of a democratization of common sense.”

The reference to drift and lack of direction obviously caught my attention, but the piece went on to say that Parliament met and gave the impression that something is at last happening. I dare anyone to seriously tell me that there is purpose and direction in what is happening in our country. But even more, can you tell me of any meeting of Parliament where the populace felt convinced that something was at last happening? The editorial furthermore warns that someone has to take responsibility to give hope to the citizens of the country. It is my view that what is most dangerous about the situation in our country today is the lack of hope. Where there is no hope, then everything is lost. A letter writer in a recent issue of one of the Trinidadian newspapers in attempting to understand why people beg and rob each other, felt, among other things, that “They feel ‘choiceless’”. Feeling choiceless really means being without hope. Without hope, there is nothing to stimulate you and you are left with options that are not necessarily desirable. The Nation’s editorial also made the point that Barbadians were more educated and therefore more critical of leaders and institutions. In a sense it argues there has been more democratization of common sense.

Like Barbadians, Vincentians are more educated, but do the educated ones bring a more critical approach to their understanding of what is happening in our country? To what extent are they critical of leaders, and institutions? With reference to leaders I am not looking at it in a partisan political sense, for one could be committed to a particular political party without bowing to its misdeeds and attempting to rationalise its missteps. Has there really been a democratisation of common sense, using the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of common sense as sound judgement in practical matters?

This is particularly so, as we are now into the “Silly Season” and seem to lose our sense of being and of reasoning. I have again to refer to a letter in the Trinidad Express, captioned “Pappyshow politics and our votes.” Just take away the references to Trinidad and see to what extent this applies to us. “It has become starkly evident and disturbing that (Trinidadians) are now grossly accustomed and desensitised to the pappyshow that is our local politics. Between the rush of projects, blatant lies and pathetic pretensive attempts to justify actions our politicians walk around with their heads lifted high…Then again, we (Trinidadians) behave as foolish as our politicians make us out to be. After all, when we have been raped and brutalised by them, we return to the polls and vote them back into political glory.

We remain loyal to party politics. To parties who ride our backs and live off of our labour as if it’s their own, who live off of our tax dollars and the resources they command, eating, sleeping, drinking and driving around with their flashing blue lights for us to pull over in hours-long traffic so they can get by and leave us in their dust….”

A lot of things come together in the Silly Season and we appear to revel in it. Politicians whom we have not seen in some places for sometime are now around, shaking hands and chatting with us, as if to remind us of their deep seated love and commitment and certainly not something driven by the fact that we are into the run-up to elections. In this Silly period we forget the sufferings we have had to endure. Those are cast aside as we grab for anything that is offered and say “Hail Master! Bless You!”

In SVG, we sit back and accept a lot of things, arguing that these are happening elsewhere – so with crime and unemployment and general economic hardship we try to convince ourselves that these are not unique to our country. We argue that our economic situation is not going to improve until conditions improve in the developed countries so we sit back and wait. Do we examine what is being put in place to tide us over the waiting period and to prepare ourselves for any openings that might arise? While we wait as the letter writer from Trinidad notes, “…many of our brothers and sisters, including children, have no idea where their next meal is coming from…” We compare crime numbers with other Caribbean countries, forgetting that the population factor has to be taken into account. The solutions will hopefully come from elsewhere!

What the Silly Season does is to magnify these things and show that we really live in a pappyshow country.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.