To be "developed" has little to do with skyscrapers, multitudes of shopping malls and myriad fast-food chains. It is more about nurturing the capacity to diagnose problems and devise and implement processes and systems that can create the critical mass of "thinkers" and "doers" that will serve in good stead to make the society meet and surmount all challenges.
It is only then that a society can inculcate the confidence in itself to accomplish on its own with its own insights and take full responsibility for its own path forward.
Being "developed" has nothing to do with a culture of dependency nor has it anything to do with the imperative and necessity of seeking validation from anywhere else but ourselves.
Material accomplishments are secondary and incidental, merely the "bells and whistles" and not the spinal centre of what "development" is meant to be.
Our deep malaise lies in our failure to comprehend the science of how things develop and that affects our approach to all that we do.
For instance, last week we got a perfect example of the depth of our stupidity. According to Shadow, "what goes around, comes around." It was announced that Bertille St Clair is to be reappointed coach of our national football team with a view to him taking the team forward to the next World Cup.
When St Clair, this local coach who has the honour of being the only coach, foreign or local, to have taken a national team, the Under 23s, to a World Cup, was fired the last time, he had just taken the national team to the semi-finals in the Gold Cup, its highest placing ever.
The team was united and motivated and playing some of the best and structurally-tight football we had seen for quite a while. The chemistry among the players was just right.
The so-called administrators who understand nothing chose at that very moment to fire St Clair and break the momentum. What followed was the inanity of the unrelated sojourns of a few foreign coaches of questionable competence who merely flattered to deceive.
"Big white-men", of course, who knew nothing, and cared not to know anything, about our natural flair and style, and so could not pay any homage to that which is intrinsic to us nor could build on it.
It is that lack of self-confidence, this deep cultural malaise, that serves to have us in a constant muddle, running around, rudderless, like headless chickens, always going backwards instead of forward.
In the '60s and '70s our football development was on par with countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia, etc. In the 1974 campaign we defeated Mexico handsomely. But like everything else, instead of putting the proper scientific systems in place to keep apace with world developments in football, we implemented nothing, instituted no visionary plans, and soon every other country in the CONCACAF region went ahead of us, including the USA and Canada.
Gally Cummings and St Clair were the two coaches who began to turn the tide but both were to face the proverbial axe. The end result after St Clair's demise was that our football suffered greatly and we dropped to the lowest position ever on the international rankings.
Not to mention that our best players became quite disillusioned and some opted out of national service altogether in favour of their professional jobs with international clubs.
At the same time our know-it-all administrators were busy expending great energies, time and much money on setting up a national professional football league that was to be based on very thin ice indeed.
Many warned them that football development in T&T was based on the rivalry of solid communities. The great clubs of the past such as Colts and Malvern of the '50s and '60s, TESCA, Memphis and Civic Centre of the '70s, etc were nothing without the communities of Belmont, Woodbrook, Tunapuna, Arima and Point Fortin that provided sustenance for them in all forms.
We pleaded that for a professional league to be successful, the teams involved had to emerge out of united communities. But their idea was to facilitate rich industrialists and contractors setting up teams, buying and trading players while the communities remained largely uninvolved.
Nobody, now and again a mere smattering, turns up to see the professional league games. And the administrators are mad that crowds turn up to see secondary school Intercol games. They do not understand that each school is a community.
Football is a spectator game played with passion. The passion flows back and forth between players and community supporters and die-hards. Without the songs and the trooping of the colours and emblems that identify one community from the other, the game is nothing.
The British professional clubs and league grew out of competing communities such as Manchester and Liverpool, as their very names do signify. These clubs derive their longevity from their attachment and affinity to the communities. Why should it be any different here, particularly as the history has been quite similar?
Already since the announcement of the return of St Clair, the professional footballers plying their trade abroad have all, without exception, indicated their willingness to be a part of the new thrust. And Bertille himself has said that the door is open to all who will be willing to subject themselves to the demands of the programme he intends to implement.
At this point it may be essential to say something about Yorke and Latapy. They and Lara make "big news" which sell newspapers. The print media, both local and international, have therefore not been kind to them. We understand that now.
They play hard and they celebrate victories just as any other sportsmen. Why single them out as if celebrating in their case represents some innate character flaw?
One recalls that after our national team defeated Mexico at the Oval, Yorke and Latapy were taken by helicopter to Piarco to catch a flight back to London as had been prearranged with the managers of their clubs.
On reaching Piarco they took a taxi back to Port-of-Spain and were severely chastised by all and sundry when that report hit the news the following day.
Only recently someone close to them provided this explanation: they were sitting at Piarco talking when it suddenly dawned on them that T&T had not defeated Mexico in over 20 years, that if they were citizens of any other country in the world they would be part of the celebrations particularly as they had combined their particular skills to score the goal that defeated Mexico.
They began to think about the rest of the team and the rest of the nation celebrating all over Port-of-Spain and St James, and began to feel "left-out" and marginalised.
There and then they decided to return to be part of their nation's celebration with the resolve to suffer any consequences the respective "gaffers" may bring to bear on them. And if we are talking here about a sense of community, how can we ever fault that?