ACCORDING to my third favourite dictionary Merriam Webster being Tone Deaf is defined as: Having or showing an obtuse insensitivity or lack of perception particularly in matters of public sentiment, opinion, or taste.
With this in mind, along with the basic awareness that thousands of Trinbagonians are now catching their tails to make it through this period of shut down, I believe it would be more than fair to label our Prime Minister’s sentiments regarding the calls to reopen business as tone deaf.
It’s been a week so allow me to refresh your memories, speaking at press conference on Saturday April 25, our PM was doing pretty good until he dropped this line regarding people demanding they be allowed back to work, “This is a country where people like to stay home from work. What’s happening?”
He then added that people were essentially being paid to stay home so everyone should just enjoy it.
Puh-pump dem brakes home boy!
In a statement from the Ministry of Finance it was disclosed that 30,300 applications were submitted for Salary Relief Grants since they were announced on March 24.
These 30,300 are the people who both qualified for grants and had access to the grant applications.
The reality is there are thousands more, who for one reason or another are not eligible for grants, did not have access to the applications or could not complete the process.
These are the people demanding to go back to work not because they really want to but because they have to.
It’s easy to call them selfish or ignorant to the dangers of a widespread break out of the virus, which would easily collapse our healthcare system, our economy and force us into an even longer, stricter state of lock down.
But imagine being in a position where your cupboards are bare, you are behind in rent, your landlord (who has financial obligations of his own) is breathing down your neck, you are suffering, your family is suffering and there is nothing you can do but hope for that grant cheque or some other form of charitable relief.
Being in this situation, it would be easy to rationalise the need for businesses to open. You would be willing to risk your health to ensure your family can stay fed.
This is the reality of many citizens who we see begging for businesses to open or at least partially open.
It’s not foolishness, it’s desperation.
Honestly it is extremely upsetting that those in charge fail to see this, that they think everyone should just be glad they are getting a food hamper, a $1,500 grant cheque and an extended vacation.
It is further puzzling that they seem to think people who have been approved for grants all are hunky dory. Might I remind you that businesses shut down and grants applications opened in March and here we are on May 2 and the first 1,000 grants were only distributed this past Wednesday…over a month later.
So explain to me what the Government thought people were living on for the last month?
The large majority of those laid off or those who are self-employed, live paycheck to paycheck, so when that last dollar was spent bellies had to be banded.
Perhaps I am being too sensitive. Having been indoors for such a long period of time has given me way too much time to think and create imaginary moral dilemmas where I emerge the voice of the downtrodden…it’s a curse.
I just believe that the leaders of our country need to be more understanding of those they represent.
I know somewhere an Opposition supporter is reading this and thinking “Yeah! Daz what we sayin! Open tings up!” but I would be lying if I said I truly believed the Opposition was being genuinely altruistic in their calls for businesses to be opened.
Because let’s be real, it’s election year and politicians are like vultures who feed on the pain of people, tricking them into believing they would act in their best interest, when in reality they would do the same exact thing.
Personally, I am not in favour for the process of opening businesses to be rushed.
So far, I think the Government and our sweet-faced CMO have done a pretty swell job in ensuring we don’t end up in an end of days-type situation.
The last thing we need is a second wave and to be put on an even longer shut down.
Everyone’s experience is different at this time; none of us are in the position to judge what someone may be going through. Some of us are doing quite well and some of us are struggling to survive and we need to recognise this.
All I am asking for is that we learn some empathy. That our leaders try their hardest to slip out of their Prada loafers and put on the rubbers slippers, many of their citizens wear, to truly avoid making such bold Tone Deaf statements.