Editorial: The Twilight Zone

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Many of us can remember the excuses that we often offered to our teachers when we’d neglected to do our homework. They ranged from, “Current (electricity) went off” to “Somebody stole my book,” to the universal classic, “The dog ate my homework.” Of course, it was all malarkey, and of course, none of our teachers ever fell for them. In hindsight, we can see how ridiculous those excuses were, and we chuckle at our feeble attempts to avoid the inevitable detention or caning.
Here in our fair state, we have been deluged with a plethora of equally lame and ludicrous excuses for a failure to deliver on a promise or meet a deadline, or the mishandling of an issue, or fecklessness, or plain incompetence. On an almost daily basis, the litany of excuses flies fast and furious, with the result that there is much despair and despondency in the body politic.
The most recent was the hollow excuse about the quarries not being able to keep up with the demand for aggregate, hence the delay on the Friar’s Hill Road and the Sir George Walter Highway. Before that, it was the September rains. And so on and so forth!
The fishy eBooks fiasco was explained away as an oversight with no “hanky-panky” intended. The release of the American visitor with a gun and ammunition in her possession by one entity, and then the after–the–fact rectifying of that legal breach was waved away with a trite excuse. The recent release of eight inmates and then their re-imprisonment without any consultation with the victims and their families, mind you, was also rife with silly excuses. Last year, the heavy over-growth of bush at the sides of our roadways was ungratefully blamed on too much rain. The lack of garbage receptacles in St. John’s was blamed on people stealing the receptacles. The debacle in the Barbuda recovery was crudely blamed on the Barbuda people, their lack of insurance, international donor pledges not forthcoming, donors stipulating the uses for which their donated funds could be applied (some donors did attach stipulations) and everything else under the sun except their own bungling of the effort.  Indeed, in Barbuda and elsewhere in our fair state, “Where their sins of omission and commission did abound, the excuses did much more abound!”
Of course, the excuse to “trump” (pun intended) all excuses is, “The UPP ate their homework!” Every blessed failure on the part of this administration is blamed on the United Progressive Party (UPP) ad nauseam! Give the people a break! When will this administration of self-proclaimed and self-ordained wunderkinds, who promised to remedy all that ailed us, accept responsibility for their dismal stewardship? When? And why the false equivalency – the tiresome and illogical default reasoning that “It was the same thing under the UPP!” or “UPP was no better!”  Yes, the deplorable conditions at the Fiennes (thank God, the residents have finally been moved), Clarevue, Her Majesty’s Prison all blamed on the UPP. The water woes, which the geniuses promised to fix in fourteen days, blamed on the UPP! The failure to deliver on the 500 homes in 500 days, blamed on rain and yes . . . you guessed it – the UPP! Goodness gracious!
Naturally, this unseemly resort to excuses after excuses has given rise to low expectations here in Antigua and Barbuda. These days, whenever the administration makes grand pronouncements and declarations, there is a collective shrugging of the shoulders and the resigned, “Whatever! We’ll believe it when we see it!”  So sad, an administration that has lost faith with the people because they have cried “Land of Milk and Honey” for so long, and delivered only “Wormwood and gall!” Every thing is riddled with missteps and mistakes and “oversights.” Think the gang that can’t shoot straight!
And so it goes –“Tell-the-people-what-they-want-to-hear” deadlines (Friars Hill Road and Sir George Walter Highway will be completed within this year, what with the addition of two new aggregate-supply machines), then make up another pathetic excuse when the deadline comes and goes with the roads to nowhere still incomplete.
And speaking of roads, we find one of Rod Serling’s introductions to his TWILIGHT ZONE series to be a fitting summary to this unfunny comedy of errors: “You’re traveling through another dimension; a dimension not only of sight (filthy Gray’s Farm) and sound (excuses), but of mind (everything will be just fine); a journey into a land whose boundaries are that of imagination (the most absurd and fanciful excuses). That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

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