EDITORIAL: Dangerous seeds of shared regional plight
One of the sad realities of life in the Caribbean, particularly where English is the common language, is that despite our obvious commonalities, we seem to place so much emphasis on the things that divide us.
Then every once in a while something occurs, good or bad, that jolts us back to understanding and appreciating that we stand a far better chance of improving the quality of life of our people if we work together.
Trinidad and Tobago may be a nation with oil wealth and general economic strength that offer it some advantage over its neighbours, but the execution by gunmen there of prominent Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal last Sunday morning, an event that has been linked to a high-profile murder case she was prosecuting, ought to remind us all of our shared vulnerability.
The waters of the Caribbean Sea offer us in Barbados no insulation from such violence, and the same applies to our brothers and sisters in other member states of the Caribbean Community.
There ought to be a collective howl of abhorrence rising today from every Caribbean capital against this despicable act of violence, not just against an individual lawyer, but in essence against the very system of law and order we practise, a system which, for all its flaws, has allowed the region to promote itself as a place of relative peace and safety.
But alas, that is changing. The growing trade in illegal drugs and the clear need by those who are its leaders to protect their turf with the latest in weaponry and violence that’s becoming increasingly gruesome, leave us all to wonder where it will take us.
When we reach the point where criminals will ambush and execute a leading law officer, we all need to stand and take note because it sends a clear message that none of us is beyond the reach of these thugs.
Under the circumstances, we have no choice but to support the call from our Director of Public Prosecutions Charles Leacock, QC, for greater security for our judicial officers. By virtue of their jobs, they put themselves in the firing line, and the society owes them a duty of care – we have, to the best of our ability, guarantee their safety.
However, when we have done that, we still have to deal with the larger issues that allow such scenarios to play out in the first place. When we become less respectful of each other’s lives and property, when we value the material over the moral, when wealth must be acquired at any cost, when how we treat others bears no relation to how we would like to be treated, executing the Dana Seetahals of this region becomes easy.
Justice Randall Worrell summed it up succinctly: “When anarchy and greed and undiluted love for material possessions grab hold of a society and gain the upper hand, all of us in the society will be the losers.”