Who says life is a bed of roses? Only fools think so. The wise one knows that life is a daily struggle. I recalled Basdeo Panday being laughed at when he said that ‘we must struggle.’ And when asked ‘what’s next,’ his response was ‘struggle.’ Life is crisis after crisis with short breaks. It is those who believe that life is eating, drinking, and making merry who are the biggest casualties of history.
Successful people in all walks of life have limited time to fool around. They are always on the grind-the Oscar-winning actor, the billionaire or the ace student. Life to them is the joy of daily struggle. They know that if they take a rest, they would be run over and trampled, falling victims to the charity of Mother Teresa, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Living Water Community.
Like it or not, we are going through a process of natural selection or the survival of the fittest. Cultures and nations are being tested. Those that have failed to put measures in place are going to go down. It is the way of nature and must be accepted. Why have so many species, cultures, and languages gone extinct? It is only because they have failed to survive crises.
Mao, Gandhi and Ho Chi Minh did not get their countries’ independence from the European people on a platter. They did not dress in jackets and ties and visited Marlborough House in London to receive a piece of paper; they wrested power from the colonial powers with bayonets in their hands.
Mao would always be painted as a scoundrel by the West but he remains one of the greatest freedom fighters of the 20th century. He defeated both the Japanese and the nationalists who were backed by the western powers and drove them out of China. The same can be said of Ho. After defeating the Japanese, the western power reinstalled France and Ho resolved to continue the fight. Even the US failed in its mission to defeat the will of the Vietnamese people!
Gandhi rejected the trappings of western cultures and political ideologies. While freedom fighters in other parts of the world were engrossed with communism and socialism, Gandhi opted for Ramraj, the glorious reign of King Rama of Ajodhya and never compromised his Hindu values.
Colonialism was worse than this pandemic. Interestingly, the nations that are performing best under the pandemic are those that have defied their colonial masters, not adopting a knife and fork, bow tie and Jesus is the Answer culture. Look at the performance of Vietnam in its struggles against the pandemic: 8 million tests, 13,483 cases, 5, 299 recoveries and only 69 deaths in a population of 96 million. That is the spirit of a people who have never bowed their heads to a foreign power!
Independence is a word that some nations don’t seem to understand. They associate independence with a flag and standing at attention when the national anthem is played as the ultimate in patriotism. Striving toward self-sufficiency and building a robust health system that can stand up to a pandemic are never within their radar.
Trinidadians have to learn to stand on their own feet and that entails some effort. Without such effort, we are going to be eternally dependent on others, not just for vaccines, but even dhal, rice and sugar. By the way…do we produce pot salt in Trinidad and Tobago?