EVERYTHING BUT . . . : Words of nothing
HAVE?YOU?NOTICED that gracefulness and refinement and polish are making a hasty exit from our social life?
That argued nonsense now earns rah-rah acceptance, and bellowing tongues are cheered – most inappropriately – for their brand of oratory?
Make no mistake about it; the yakking is not confined to those hotbed pulpits we all know of, or those hot-spot religious radio programmes we can’t help but hear. Trivia, parading as a subject of substance, has fully infiltrated every office, the newspaper, radio, TV and Parliament.
Parliament is the most smitten of all, and unfortunately its too robust goings-on are broadcast for the world to see. The mostly rambling and empty presentations of many an MP – as does the ineffectual posturing – never fail to be discussed at the office, and are replicated for days by the media.
Regrettably, the Speaker of the House can only rule on conduct, parliamentary language, compliance with the Standing Orders, points of order, and relevance.
Oh, that he might have been able to determine substance and intelligibility.
“The Honourable Member is making no sense. Honourable Member, please take your seat!”
But somebody from the madding crowd of rights defenders and of trivia dispensers will shout: “Freedom of speech! Freedom of speeches!”
Time was when we didn’t mind the speeches; when we didn’t get enough of them on radio and TV; when substance was revered and trivia frowned upon; when asides had literary value; and crosstalk bore no anger.
Time was when the definition of oratory hadn’t yet been altered; when words were well spoken and not unceremoniously stuttered.
Oft-times I yearn for the sophisticated nuances in speech of an Errol Barrow, a Tom Adams, a Henry Forde, a Branford Taitt, a Richie Haynes, a Louis Tull, a Billie Miller in scintillating cut and thrust of debate in the House – but to little avail.
With very few exceptions, the voices of MPs which I’ll be hearing for the next two to three days of Parliament’s sitting will be a pain – at best, a thundering bore.
We will all have to endure the ever swelling snide asides, the unnecessary interruptions, the possible non-points of order, the remonstrating. And at the end of it all, we are not going to be much wiser, or any happier.
And the same old voices with the same old views will be calling the same old radio talk show hosts in an unending cacophony of disputations: arguably nonsense in the guise of informed debate – tempered only by the occasional call from the one who feels compelled to quote passages of scripture for the good of the nation.
Which we really need more than. We need as much luck as we do the Bible. We need even more courage than we do prayer (said quietly).
When all the obfuscation of the expected two per cent, 2.5 per cent and three per cent growth in the economy clears at the end of the Estimates debate, backbone – a rare commodity among Caribbean politicians these days – will be all that is left for the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to have to drag this country from the clutches of the recession and challenging deficit.
The continual nit-picking between Owen Arthur and Chris Sinckler won’t cut it. This is no time for intellectual parleying.
But wasn’t there to be a putting together of heads across the political divide on how we might pull ourselves up by the bootstraps out of this economic quagmire?
It was probably simple noisemaking. Wouldn’t it have been far more invigorating for there to have been a truce between parties, so that together they might have all settled on the same page with a bona fide rescue plan?
And once the answer to our problems were in place, we could have gone back to the bickering and backbiting, which we seem to favour.
Maybe I am talking nonsense – and should take my seat!