New year, not so new worries

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Columns

New year, not so new worries

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, January 10, 2020

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January 2020 has certainly extended the fireworks past the midnight hour; and not in a celebratory fashion. We've stepped into 2020 but some worries that we face continue from the past year.

On the international circuit, the US and Iran continue to have an acrimonious relationship. US President Donald Trump stirred up tensions in the Middle East when he ordered a drone attack in Iraq, which killed an Iranian strongman on January 3, 2020, claiming credible information that plans were being made to start more trouble.

Heart rates all around the world certainly went up as the Iranian authorities vowed to exact revenge and, earlier this week, the Iranian military bombed US bases in Iraq in retaliation. So far, there are no reports of death, and the international community is hoping that this will turn down the temperature.

The laughing is a little quiet and cautious, as no one knows how this latest US/Iran argument will play out in the next few months. So far, there have been more US sanctions applied and Iran has said they are abandoning what was left of the nuclear deal. Those actions are a more diplomatic way of dealing with the issue, and hopefully no further bombs and bullets will be deployed.

In our region, closer to home, we have watched and heard in distress the destruction happening in Puerto Rico, which has been dealing with a series of earthquakes and tremors since the end of December. Another quake struck on Wednesday, causing further damage to buildings and roads and other infrastructure. Many Puerto Ricans are without light and water, and are scared stiff of what the next bump and rumble may bring. It can't be easy for them, as they are still working their way through the after-effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017. We certainly hope that the worst is now behind them and the steps of rebuilding can begin.

Once again, the planet that we live on has shown us just how precarious our existence can be. Australians are battling one of the worst fire seasons right now and, even as social media posts instructions to “Pray for Australia”, others are fighting over whether the fires were started by environmental activists trying to prove the effects of climate change on the land. To date, Australian officials have found no proof that the fires were a result of arson, and are more focused on how they will make out in the next few months as they continue to go through summer in that part of the hemisphere. Whatever you choose to believe, what is obvious is there are more severe weather patterns happening.

Back home in JA, we continue to find ways to batter and beat up on ourselves. The year 2019 was one of the worst years for road safety. We careened around corners, overtaking blindly, and drove up the death toll to over 400. I don't know what it is that happens to some of our people when they get behind a steering wheel. A roadside vendor with whom I chatted the other day joined me in amazement as we watched a car, laden with passengers, wildly overtook a line of traffic within sight of a police station. “Is like dem head tek dem, Miss,” she said. The “shotta” drivers don't fear the law, nor do they seem to fear death.

“Tek time, mek haste,” Granny would say. But it seems like the things of the past that called for patience and understanding and caring have been left behind. Another friend of mine says it all began with instant coffee. “How coffee get mix-up in this?” I asked. He replied, “Once upon a time you had to wait for coffee to grind and then percolate, now is just scoop up a spoon, put in hot water, and coffee ready. Today, you expect everything to come to you in minutes. We must have everything now-now.” This has fed our expectation of fast living and, sadly, it is leading us to a fast destruction.

This week the Government announced that changes will be made to the procedure of getting a learner driving permit. Applicants will have to sit the road code test before they are legally permitted to get behind the wheel or climb on a motor bike. It is hoped that by being more aware of the right and proper way to conduct yourself as a motorist, we can cut down on the lawless and reckless behaviour that has infected our roads. That should hopefully take care of new drivers, but what of those who already have their licence? What can be done to bring the others back in line? Let's hope the worries of this year will be met with wiser answers.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com.


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