Dr. Fraser- Point of View
January 17, 2014

That classic debate with ‘Myself’

For some time now, I have had this uneasy feeling that those who lead this country and the bureaucrats who do their bidding are under the impression that the people in this country are foolish. Ever since the issue of the hundredth anniversary of Nine Mornings arose it had moved beyond a feeling and was becoming a conclusion. Despite the silence of those above the functionaries, I felt that some heads would have rolled and some inner cleansing done because of the embarrassment that it brought to the country. But it was business as usual. So, a type of callousness has arisen that could only happen in a society where people are foolish.{{more}} But I was uneasy because it meant that I was among the foolish crowd. This is not a happy conclusion to arrive at, so last Sunday, on my way to church I decided to have a debate with “Myself”.

I had first to apologise to the country. How could I, as a citizen of this country, not know that there was a war going on and that, as a foot soldier, I should not wait for conscription or to be asked to volunteer, but had to arm myself and go into action following the dictates of the Commander-in-Chief or was it the General? But how was it possible not to know about this war, when the General was already giving his command and handing out ammunition to the troops. It worried me too that I did not know who was the enemy, so even though late, I sought to find out, for I suspected that more hands were needed and I couldn’t participate in a war without knowing whom I was fighting. Fortunately for me, I read a news item that highlighted a statement made by the president of the Peoples Movement for Change. I figured that he had it wrong. He said that the war against nature was a fiction. Despite what he said, I felt that I had to be part of such a fight, a historic fight, maybe the two hundredth anniversary, for wasn’t there a similar nature war around that time in the 19th century. Whoops! I missed the mark. What I was thinking of was the eruption of the Soufriere volcano in 1812. But we started fighting our new war in 2013. Hell, I am really stupid. What does a single year mean to an anniversary?

So I started this debate with “Myself.” We focused on the war. I asked “Myself” about this war. He began to laugh and said: “Boy, you are really stupid. Nature does not fight with anyone. Nature accepts change, but wants us to maintain some balance. We are the ones who have been fighting a war, really with ourselves for we dump logs, garbage and other stuff in the rivers, streams and drains. We pollute our whole environment, spraying chemicals at random. We even pollute the air with our language, but that is a different war.”

I sat astonished. So, I have been fighting this war for a long time, but on the wrong side against the wrong enemy. The true war, “Myself” told me, is to join Nature’s ranks to stop those who are destroying that delicate balance that it has provided us.

“Myself” then asked me a question which apparently others have been asking. Why didn’t we get advanced warning of the storm? I had to admit that I had not been paying a lot of attention to it. I said however, remember it was Christmas Eve and we are all human beings and Christians, so you know…He interrupted me. “So, what happens to the nurses and doctors at the hospitals, the firemen and the police?”

I did not respond to that but said that I had heard that troughs are unpredictable and you are never sure where they are going. “Myself” said “How come last week we got advanced warning about a trough that never came?”

He told me that if Nature was really at war it would not have let us off at a time when we were most vulnerable. Then he said something else which made sense to stupid me. If something is unpredictable and we are never sure which direction it is taking, once it is affecting our neighbours, wouldn’t we put the troops on alert even if we don’t declare war? I nodded my head and said to “Myself”, “You are something else! You are so clever!”

I was also told that it was said that it is better for persons not affected by the disaster to receive aid than for “penny-pinching” public servants to be so discerning that persons affected by these disasters are inadvertently refused help. This confused me more than anything else. I could not figure out what it was supposed to mean. I asked “Myself” to explain what it meant. He said first of all it is suggesting that those who are not “penny pinching civil servants” are likely to be more generous in handing out the dole. But it confused even him that these civil servants, or whoever they were, could be so generous that those who are not affected get at the expense of those who were. At this point someone interrupted, saying something about people affected by Tomas still not having been helped. I got angry. “Lady, this is 2014, why are you bringing up history?” Then I remembered how stupid I was and ended the debate.

This was a private debate between me and “Myself”. I hope “Myself” does not make it public, but knowing him as I do, he just might do so to expose my stupidity.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.