By Laura Ann Phillips
A toddler stood staring, intrigued by a cluster of holes. The pink pocket-princess doll was perfect; her fairy sword just the right size. Its tip moved closer to the cluster… nearer, yes!
No. The fairy sword was captured.
Mama held the pink pocket-princess hostage, looking back and forth between her and the talking man in front, hissing about “de plug” and “no behaviour in church”.
She feigned a new interest in the curved wooden edge of the pew until, eventually, Mama relaxed, now looking more at the talking man than at her. But, the sword of the pocket princess, once released, returned unabated, to its former mission.
As long as Mama kept looking the other way.
We never seem to outgrow the urge to show a most wonderful face to the world! Always at our smiling best, courteous, absolutely honest! Turn your back, and that perfect picture turns with you.
Classroom mischief thrives for as long as the teacher faces the whiteboard. Motorists are model drivers at intersections where traffic wardens are visible.
And, so, we never seem to quite master the lesson of doing the right thing, even when no-one is looking.
On February 28, 2018, Transparency International (TI) published its “Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2017”.
The CPI, according to the TI website, “ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople”, using “a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean”.
Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) achieved a score of 41.
In the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2016-2017 report, T&T ranked 83rd out of 137 territories. Assessing particular factors such as “health and primary education” and “business sophistication”, the WEF includes data from its Executive Opinion Survey (EOS) and the International Monetary Fund to evaluate each territory’s economy.
The EOS survey identifies the “Most problematic factors for doing business” in each territory. For T&T, “Poor work ethic in national labor force” ranked first, while “Corruption” was ranked as the third most problematic factor.
Now, who are these corrupt workers with poor work ethic? Any of them come to Mass this weekend? Most assuredly.
In the gospel of the 4th Sunday of Lent (Jn 3:14-21), Jesus taught Nicodemus that God loved this world so much that He sent His only Son to save it.
But, people would reject the offer.
“Though the light has come into the world, men have shown that they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And, indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed.” (Jn 3: 19-20)
What are you hiding? What do you enable by looking the other way?
Turning to the light isn’t always a simple or safe thing. But, God truly is “an ever-present help in time of trouble” (Ps 46:1).
May He inspire us with good ideas and the courage to do the right thing, even when the surveillance cameras are off.
World Economic Forum:
The Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017:
Transparency International: https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017