The word ‘gamble’ means to ‘play games of chance for money’ or to bet on an uncertain outcome. It also means, to ‘take a risk in the hope of gaining an advantage or a benefit’. Gambling is big business around the world today. It plays on the imaginations of men, women and young people who develop the illusion of becoming rich overnight and making a lot of money. Because it’s a game of chance, people do win. But the majority always fails. All they get is the usual empty pocket.
Gambling does not guarantee the player success at the end of the game. When attending high school, I remember entertaining myself playing the 20vt “place your bets” game down at the seafront during Independence celebrations. That was an entirely foolish act. A lot of ni-Vanuatu citizensstill enter the betting shops and casinos in town to try their luck at those machines. It has become an addiction to them. They can’t walk past that hotel or that casino place without dumping a few hundred or thousand vatus into those faceless machines. As a result, the gambler goes broke before the next payday, the family suffers, and there are other social and economic consequences that go with it.
The gambling this article discusses though is not about those gambling machines, or the casinos. Rather, it looks at how TRUST is being gambled in our society today. It takes time to develop a trusting relationship between two parties, whether they are individuals, organisations, leaders or countries. Deceive the other side, fail to fulfil your part of the deal and trust evaporates on the spot. Building it in the first place is hard enough, but rebuilding it after it has been broken requires extra effort to regain that trust and confidence.You are, from then on, treated with suspicion all the time, to ensure you do not fail again – that’s if the other side gives you that ‘second chance’.
If anything significant and big is going to happen within the next four months in Vanuatu, it is going to be a massive campaign for trust, or a ‘Trust Campaign’. Those who are eager to retain or gain power are going to lobby, lie, propagandize, present half-truths, fabricate and invent ideas and sell those to citizens from north to south, east to west to win that one thing, trust. Roads are being built now in places that will become cliffs tomorrow never to be traversed again for a four year term till the next trust campaign, or even more. Promises are going to be made now that will never be fulfilled as they never have. Some people have been given more than second chances, maybe countless chances. It is so very strange that they can win trust and dump it so easily, and the next time around regain that trust to deliver nothingness yet again.
On this note, it reminds me of a very funny character who has found herself amid a bed of hornets on ‘Yumi Toktok Stret’ – a character who wants to enter National Parliament and lead a country, but who has no substance, who employs falsehood, cooked up conspiracy theories about Windmills, the World Bank, the WTO, the EU and everything international that she knows only the surfaces of to be debating meaningfully. She just spews out hot air and expects to win points. But the strategy is not working as she’s quickly found out; she has received bullets from left, right and centre, some of the shooters being well educated citizens who cannot stand the noise of an empty drum.
There’s this other new candidate vying for a seat within a province up north who has a very strange and disappointing track record behind him. He is now pushing to stand for people to donate him their trust. Gaining others trust also means that you get to represent them, that you can listen to and take their needs to heart and be their voice under the red roof. What is really strange about the candidate is, he could not even take care of his very own blood parents, and it seems he couldn’t care less what kind of a life they lead, and whether their welfare was taken care of. How does he stand to represent others who only know him by the campaign propagandas he is into? How can he mistreat his very own parents and expect to faithfully commit himself to people who don’t really know who he is? One wonders whether such individuals still have some sense of dignity left in them.
But then, such is the nature of some heartless individuals in our society today. He sells his birth right for a bowl of soup, and suddenly now he is ready to be a ‘man of the people’.
The NGOs and other civil society groups are doing a great job in raising awareness around the country. Hope they do a good job of it. At least, what they should be doing is telling the people – as they have the power of choice through the ballot box – to take back their trust, to begin with. Trust is not to be sold cheaply to any Tom, Dick and Harry who passes your way and who does an effective job of selling you nicely prepared words to earn your affection and confidence. Why so many people sell or gamble away their trust so easily is very sad. Others get threatened to give some people their trust or else they lose their jobs. Trust is a human right that cannot be traded for money. Trust is worth more than money.
To the many voters in the urban, out in the rural, in the provinces, and in the villages, guard well the most powerful asset that you have – the trust that is in you. Do not exchange it for a cheap individual who comes around to win your trust with money or other things, including promises, especially when his or her history has nothing positive to offer you. The potential candidate is one thing. But the other more serious issue to worry about are those that are doing the campaigns for the individual. Some are genuinely interested in development and helping to reduce poverty among the poor. But there’s another group that comprises a pack of wolves in sheepskin. They are the ones to be feared most, it seems, as they have a tendency to suck financial blood out of a good candidate once he or she is in power. Those kinds of unstable individuals are to be avoided at all costs.
To the individual voter, don’t gamble away your trust for a cheap product. It is not worth the risk, and certainly not worth four years of heartache, neglect and pain.
>>The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and are not necessarily those of the Vanuatu Daily Post.