A couple nights ago, I woke up to an email in my inbox from a friend of mine and well-known local activist Ishmael Samad (best known for breaking Calder Hart’s gate and getting fined a couple thousand for it). Recently, he attempted a citizens’ arrest of Wayne Kublalsingh, citing a law that prevents suicide.
Apparently, someone emailed him the other day asking if he’d lost his mind to try to do that to Wayne, who had been fasting for about three weeks as the time and was surrounded by all his supporters and well-wishers. He responded to that question of his sanity via email to all his friends and fellow activists, saying that Trinbagonians love and cherish life and should not put that at risk for a ‘lost cause’.
I don’t want to put the man on blast, because he’s my friend. But on this Human Rights Day, I thought it was pertinent to share my reply…
It’s good to see this in my random hour of consciousness. When I heard what happened on the news, I meant to email you and ask what caused you to do such a thing.
I couldn’t help but linger on the words ‘lost cause’ in your email just now…that re-routing the highway is a lost cause. I am not at all certain whether that is true or false, but for an activist to say so says something saddening to me.
I still remember standing in the hot sun with you and your twenty-something anti-death penalty posters. It was only five of us in the party, marching up and down Woodford Square opposite the Red House, getting cuss from passersby and run from police officers.
Was that a lost cause? Yeah, in the greatest sense. All we had to show for it was a few pictures from a journalist and each other’s own friendship. It’s been more than a year since then, and nothing’s changed where the death penalty is concerned. But those Christmas days where you stood outside the jail on your own were not impeded by the idea of a lost cause. The idea that you could hold maybe the most infamous ‘ole thief’ in T&T’s history was not impeded by the idea that if the government wasn’t holding him, you sure as hell couldn’t. That was a lost cause. But it was a cause you were willing to win, at costs that no one could expect. But you paid those costs and then some…
I am no fan of Wayne Kublalsingh passing away. The same day that the strike was ended, I remember saying to a class full of high school students, “It’s sad, but if he don’t stop today, he might go to the bitter end…” But I said it as a lesson in determination, in purpose and meaning and staying truthful to yourself and your convictions. I told those secondary school students the same thing I told everyone – I am not in love with what he’s doing, but I am completely enamored by why he’s doing it. And for that, he’s got my complete support.
Right next to the life that Trinbagonians Love so much, there needs to be a Love for the right and just. There needs to be a Love to do what must be done to achieve that justice and fairness, even if it means using that much-Loved life as the greatest weapon that the gods have granted. Indeed it is – every decision we have ever made, from standing in the hot sun with placards to holding meetings to solidarity marches to mashing up gates, is us using our lives as a weapon for justice. And, if life truly means anything, then Dr. Kublalsingh’s actions had to have been recognized. No lost cause there…
I never want to think I fight a lost cause. Not for the rights of all sexualities, or to bring an end to life-changing pandemics, or to end cruel and inhumane punishments. It does not phase me that the road is long and painful. I can see my future – I could very well get a fine like you, and one day might get so mad I sit in Parliament with a noose for a tie around my neck. And I could see myself right where Wayne was, so hungry for the civil right and privilege he’s owed that he couldn’t eat anything else.
I hope that the activist in all of us never see the loss in the cause, but see the cause worth the loss. I hope we all recognize that the only weapon we truly have is our lives, our whole lives and nothing but our lives. And I hope we wield them mercilessly but deliberately, fearlessly but thoughtfully. I hope we believe a thing so strongly that the flight of those lives have no choice to hit the mark. And that our Love for life only make us stronger, and we settle for a truly empowered life, and not one of lost cause.
Blessings, Compassion, Peace & Love ,
Have a worthwhile Human Rights Day, folks!