May your wishes come true - mine won't

Cassandra's Candid Corner
Stabroek News
December 31, 2000

Tomorrow a new year, a new century, a new millennium begins. And everybody has an opinion about the future. Some renowned, accomplished and globally recognised personalities offer futuristic scenarios that have diametrically opposed fundaments. Edmund Burke, for example, in a letter to the French National Assembly stated that one can never plan the future by the past. Pearl S. Buck, on the other hand, advises that one faces the future with one's past. Similarly, one Frederick Harrison writing in The Meaning of History argues that all our hopes for the future depend on a sound understanding of the past. But the much maligned Nietzsche, one of the true realists the world has seen, proposes that we must consider the future as decisive for all our evaluations - and not seek the laws of our action behind us. Then there are those who feel compelled to create the future.

Kissinger, the Teuton, feels that the future must be shaped, otherwise it will impose itself upon us as a catastrophe. In other words he advocates creative evolution; you know, the future belongs to those who earn it. Kissinger was not in the predicting business. He, who knew politics and diplomacy and the historical dialectic, couldn't and didn't foresee the collapse of the Soviet system and Eastern Europe.

Of course, there are those who make their livelihood from professional futurology. No, I'm not talking about Madame Seefar Fakesight and her crystal ball, though her predictions seem often to have the same statistical significance of the Toflers and Mr John Naisbitt who deal in megatrends. Look, the more I read these people the more I know that the future is not new. For example, Naisbitt speaks of the move from a representative democracy to a participatory democracy. Really? Since when do the masses think and participate meaningfully. When will they possess independent thought and not blindly adopt what the authoritative opinion moulders dish out. It has always been so; and now that the facility to transfer information is ubiquitous, we can see an increase in dummification. The dissemination of opinions has never ever been left to chance or choice, never ever. It might be dolled up to give that appearance, but in the end the mind-bending superman will say when I want your opinion I'll give it to you. The masses, huddled or otherwise, don't recognise this, and those that do become indifferent.

In all of this there is only one reliable soothsayer, and that is Cassandra, who recognises a few basic if unoriginal truths:
(i) The future has only to do with staying alive with the least possible attendant pain.
(ii) The future is something that is at the rate of sixty seconds a minute and sixty minutes to the hour - irrespective of what you do or who you are.
(iii) There is nothing new under the sun.

Bearing that in mind, Cassandra, who has been bludgeoned into indifference at not being believed, only has an interest in the future because it is the place and time where the rest of one's life will be spent. There was a lot of philosophy inherent in the graffito which said, "Due to a lack of interest, tomorrow has been cancelled".

Having exposed the level of my burnoutness, ergo my indifference, I can still muster the last vestiges of energy to document at least one element which I would love to experience in the new year. I would need to see more responsibility and sanity in the TV stations. I have in the past alluded to the fact that Justice For All has nothing to do with fair play, impartiality or propriety; instead it is 'Publicity For All.' Any candidate for or escapee from the Berbice looney bin (mad man, mentally impaired/handicapped cerebrally disabled, mentally instable/disequilibrised/disadvantaged, mentally otherwise able - choose one) can leave the torment of the road and enter Channel Six's sanctuary and find the brother who is understanding, who is willing to allow the scoundrel with attitude and agenda to vent his or her feelings by ranting and raving against an upright, law-abiding and decent citizen. The TV hosts then add their own support to and even emphasise the slander by making their own disreputable comments about people they do not know.

How can these TV pretenders get away with such wretchedness and slander? Ministers of government and senior civil servants are fair game. Yet they do nothing to defend themselves. The policy of the government is pacification and acceptance. Well, in my book it is pusillanimity, plain and simple. They are afraid that people will say that they are muzzling the media. Well, as SN's editorial of 27.12.00 pointed out, some of the unsubstantiated attacks on citizens by so-called talk show hosts border on treason and are in direct contradiction to the laws of the land and against internationally recognised and accepted standards for decency in the media.

What is worse is that the other technicians and professionals are so cowed, that they do not come out in support of their colleagues. They just hope that the slander does not touch them. Shades of Hitler's Germany to be sure. There should be an uprising against Benschop, and Sharma (and Moore, though the latter is unapologetically political - but using the dangerous vehicle of race), not lastly by their peers and colleagues. Unfortunately, as is reflected by the types of callers to such programmes, the ignorance and anarchy that pervades our society is escalating irresistibly. In this cowboy country the natives love the anarchy in which they can excel and, with few exceptions, the professionals are too weak, timid and unwilling to dispense with the pseudo security of not being attached.

So the Sharmas and the Benschops ride roughshod over common decency, fairness and media ethics while playing to the gallery of the ignorant, and from time to time even recruiting technicians and professionals with a vested interest who have an axe to grind.

Ah well, this is but one wish I would have for the new year. You dear readers would have many more. May your wishes come true; I know mine won't. That is the curse placed on Cassandra by the God, Apollo.

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