Own it and create your destiny. There comes a time when you have to break free and listen and trust your own voice. As a parent you really don’t want your child to be encouraged to confuse his or her self-esteem with anyone else’s approval. We live in a society where independent thinking is not valued or condoned. Independent thinkers are branded troublemakers. We bring up our children in institutions that tell them what to think and how to think. We train them to seek approval, to measure up to someone else’s standards to be afraid of thinking for themselves. On Sunday, West Indies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin celebrated his second Test hundred by waving a piece of paper in the direction of the media centre. West Indies cricket legend Sir Viv Richards in his capacity as an expert analyst for BBC Radio’s Test Match Special had strongly criticised Ramdin following West Indies defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge.
The master blaster would have intended it as constructive criticism but to a young man struggling for form and to keep his place in the side, it would have seemed to be a public rebuke and belittling. Ramdin in a show of self-confidence and self-belief exercised his right and answered back with a century and a piece of paper on which the words “YEA VIV TALK NAH” were written. That piece of paper saw the 27-year-old receiving a sea of criticism from pundits, commentators and former greats. It’s the kind of reaction that alienates young people as it seems to them hypocritical and humourless. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and that right should be respected. But as we rush to judge, let’s not conveniently forgot that we were once 27 and guilty of far greater sins. It’s the nature of the world isn’t it, to forget to take a look in the mirror. Ramdin and Tino Best brought a needed lift to a besieged dressing room and a dead Test match. Heaping scorn and opprobrium on young men who are trying their best and feel under siege will generate its own energy and reaction.
Ramdin was out of Test cricket for a period of time and worked hard to get back into the Test team. During that period he would know how many of his critics reached out to him to offer a word of advice or guidance. Young people in the Caribbean suffer more hindrance than help. They lack mentors and father figures. When those they look up to hold them up to ridicule under the guise of constructive criticism, what we want our youth to do is conform, not succeed. Ramdin was neither obscene, violent nor disrespectful. There are more positives than negatives. However the challenge now is for Ramdin to appreciate that every time he steps on to the field he has to deliver the goods. In taking on the master blaster he got his groove and mojo back.
Different doesn’t have to be wrong. Wrong behaviour is not the same as different behaviour.
We must stop and listen carefully to hear what is behind the words or reactions so as not to get trapped into a negative reaction by a manner of expression that is different. Different isn’t wrong as long as it isn’t harmful; different is an excellent opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes. We hold the current West Indies cricket team to the apron strings of history.
The wrong type of help maybe worse than no help at all. Constructive criticism is of no use if it is just an opportunity to criticise.
Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the T&T Olympic Committee http// www.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the T&TOC.