Undercurrents in Trinidad and Tobago

Undercurrents… Our society is teeming with them. What are they?

Undercurrent: a hidden feeling or tendency that is usually different from the one that is easy to see or understand.

An underlying feeling or influence, especially one that is contrary to the prevailing atmosphere and is not expressed openly.

Trinbagonians are known for handling rough situations with a swig of beer and some soca, and have been ranked in the world among the “happiest alive”. Lately though, our repulsion for the negativity embedded in our social fabric has not been so hidden. People have begun speaking out on issues and aggressively drawing them to the attention of our leaders.

The reasons that these issues have been allowed to fester and the reluctance to address them even to this date, are deep-seated and complicated. It requires a deep evaluation of our harmful cultural habits and decisive (and no doubt, unpopular) action to change them. Too often even our own citizens who travel abroad and are exposed to progressive and mostly law-abiding societies, upon return are shocked and disappointed by our people’s antiquated behaviours and close-mindedness.

In noting the need to thoughtfully articulate our issues with a view to churning out creative interventions, some of the social issues faced are hereby listed:

  • Inequality and inequitable distribution of resources
  • Discrimination (economic, racial, physical, etc)
  • Larceny and armed robberies
  • Poor criminal detection and solving rates
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Child abuse and pornography
  • Failure of the judicial and prison system; overpopulated jails and tardiness of hearings
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Violence and murder
  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual offences
  • Kidnapping
  • Youth disobedience and school violence
  • Road carnage; ineffectiveness of Traffic Policing
  • Littering; ineffectiveness of environmental laws and policing
  • Inefficient Government processes
  • Ineffectiveness of existing communication channels

It is useful to note that businesses which address and provide solutions to social undercurrents tend to be wildly successful . They alleviate day-to-day frustrations in highly bureaucratic and often very corrupt systems. Ian Alleyne’s televised Crime Watch programme is widely perceived as a much-needed intervention against criminal elements in Trinidad and Tobago.

To be fair, some progress has been seen;

  • Government Ministers now utilize social media as a public relations tool to showcase the work being done in their Ministries and to answer the questions posed by the public.
  • Most trending issues on social media tend to be picked up by news stations and discussed on a national level.
  • Online petitions are now used to illustrate a unified stance against unpopular government decisions and less-than-appropriate comments made by persons in positions of leadership.

Can we develop other interventions to combat the issues faced in the listed areas?