Thursday, December 7, 2023

Things fall A-PATH

By Tony Deyal

“Tony, I just hear that somebody asking people on Facebook whether our prime minister is a so-so path,” said a very worried friend who called me on WhatsApp. I laughed and then replied: “Well I tried to be a sociopath once when I worked for prime ministers like Dr Eric Williams, George Chambers and even Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson but you know I’m not good at manipulating people so you could consider me a so-so path.” I then added: “I don’t think that applies to the prime minister of our country or any other. None of them does anything by halves or “so-so”. What they do is either very good or very bad. This is why I think you mean ‘sociopath’, and that is serious business. That is what people say about Donald Trump.”

My friend got upset and concerned, “Trump? They comparing our prime minister with him?” I told my friend to cool down and explained to him that in the business of politics there are different tracks or paths you can take. In fact, it is not just the straight and narrow and includes ‘socio’ path, ‘psycho’ path and ‘war’ path. I added, “It is like when there is heavy traffic on the road and you try to find a by-path or bypass. But not politicians. If I had to find one thing that all politicians have in common, it is the ‘cycle-path’. That is because all politicians keep going round and round in circles.”

My friend listened quietly and then said in anger, “Tony. I don’t agree with you. You can’t be serious to compare our prime minister with Donald Trump?” I tried to get him to cool down. I told him, “Look, I worked for four prime ministers, went to school with one, and taught another.

From my 30-years working in the English-speaking Caribbean, I know that when it comes to politics many Caribbean people are divided by race, class, colour and, what I consider to be, ‘tribes’. Even in countries that don’t have two major races like Guyana and Trinidad, there are differences built over years of infighting and family feuds.

In fact, as I have seen and many of my friends tell me, the politics in the smaller islands can be worse than those in Trinidad or Jamaica. The day after a change of governments almost everybody from the garbage man to ‘permanent’ secretaries can be, and are, replaced.”

I then added that “Medium”, an online magazine, ran an article stating, “The Rise of the Psychopath and Sociopath to Political Power” and claimed, “It has become clear to those who recognise the characteristics of psychopaths that too many of our political leaders, if not full-blown psychopaths, certainly have too many of those attributes.”

My friend jumped on me immediately: “But Tony that is psycho and not socio. I might be an old so-and-so but that is different from cyco.” I was pleased because it seemed that I was finally getting him to step back a bit and look at the issue impartially. I explained that in a clinical setting, there’s no actual difference between “socio” and “psycho” except that “Psycho” was a 1960 movie by Allred Hitchcock which left me so frightened that I slept with my bedroom light on for more than a week.

“Yes man,” I laughed. “In other words, ‘psychopath’ is used to mean a sociopath who is more dangerous, like a mass murderer instead of just an ordinary killer. He is more like Django Unchained than Roy Rogers. My friend laughed for the first time since he called me. “Oh shoot!” he said. “So you want to say our PM is a gunman?” I laughed with him, “Maybe he from another movie, ‘Gun With The Wind’ but that is not the issue. Let us say we are in a card game and I am down to Trump.”

I then told him that on one hand a lot of people support the view of Mental Health Expert, Sam Vankin, that “Trump is the most perfect example I have ever come across of a malignant, and probably psychopathic, narcissist.” Others go for Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ‘ghostwriter’ who believed, “If you Google ‘sociopath’… that is the perfect description of Donald Trump.”

What both types have in common is a disregard for the rights of others as well as for laws and social conventions. They don’t feel guilty, they lack empathy and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Worst of all, they are deceitful, manipulative and extremely impulsive. They shoot first and ask questions later.” My friend was getting bored so he asked: “So what Donald Trump do so bad that he is both socio and psycho?” This was easy pickings for me and everyone else who read the international news because Trump insults and degrades people. He does not care who he offends or deceives. He lies almost all the time. And as soon as you catch him lying he changes the topic and blames other people, especially his political opposition.

My friend was relieved. “Well, at least our prime minister is nothing like Donald Trump. He doesn’t get involved in other people’s business. He stays on the straight and narrow path all the time. He is never afraid to speak his mind and, unlike some other prime ministers, he gives his ministers a lot of room, When they make mistakes he allows them to learn from their errors. That is man!” I stepped very far away from that and left it totally untouched. What I told my friend was that the average sociopaths have no idea they are wrong. However, many of them are politicians.

According to the very popular writer of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, “Sociopaths are attracted to politics because they see it as a sphere in which you can be ruthless and step all over people. The fact that some politicians can tell such awful lies is another example of sociopath. Sociopaths lie – they see nothing wrong with it.” Feeling relieved, my friend thanked me and hung up without hearing my favourite political joke.

Almost all the ministers of a country’s ruling party were in a bus heading to the airport to meet their prime minister who was arriving from a UN Conference and had demanded their presence. Suddenly, the bus ran off the road and crashed into a tree in a coconut plantation. The owner, after seeing what happened, went over to investigate. He then dug a hole and buried the politicians. A few days later, the Commissioner of Police came out, saw the crashed bus, and asked the owner, “You sure all of them were dead?” The owner replied, “Well, some of them said they weren’t, but you know how them politicians does lie.”

*Tony Deyal was last seen saying that a bandit in a mask stopped a well-dressed man in the city, stuck a gun in his ribs and demanded all the money he had. The man was upset, “You can’t do this. I am a member of parliament!” The robber was even more insistent, “In that case, give me my money.”



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