We celebrate the 58th anniversary of our status as an independent nation without the usual degree of pomp and ceremony to which we have become accustomed. The COVID-19 virus has infected more than 1,000 people in this country alone and its reach grows increasingly wider. Independence Day 2020 must, by right, be a time for sober reflection.
Travel and information technology have minimised distances between our island-nation and far-flung areas around the world and nothing makes this reality more immediate than the spread of the contagion from far-away China to Trinidad and Tobago.
While we are bound to the rest of the global community by our common humanity, this country would nevertheless do well to examine the vision we have for ourselves and the values and beliefs that should help us to chart our own destiny. We must resist the danger of unwittingly becoming a reflection of the cultures and norms of other societies.
We dare not allow ourselves to be submerged by societal forces that are alien to us but that we ingest in our homes every day, through the internet and the television. We must ensure that we maintain our unique identity. We must be independent thinkers, even as we learn from the successes and the mistakes of other nations.
The Church is not immune to these dangers. The clergy and laity alike must hold fast to the basic teachings of the faith. Fundamental to the well-being of any society is a respect for life from conception to the natural end of life.
Pro-choice is not an option. Abortion is murder and it is an abomination. Family life is sacrosanct, and marriage must be supported and upheld as a gift and blessing mutually bestowed by husband and wife.
The scourges of racism, ethnic hatred, class discrimination and gender discrimination are intolerable and anti-Christian. This country has to deal with its own past and the remnants of the evils of different kinds and levels of discrimination but let us not import situations and mindsets which may apply elsewhere but do not apply to us.
We must jealously and zealously guard our identity as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and ensure that the fabric of our society is not destroyed.
Church and State leaders are morally obligated to exemplify ideals which uplift our citizens and the denigration of others who do not hold the same religious or political views is to be roundly condemned.
It is said that a country can be judged by the way it treats its poor, its outcasts and by extension, its immigrants desperate to escape starvation and other forms of deprivation.
Historically, the society has been enriched by the contributions of men and women from other islands and neighbouring territories. While we cannot deny the burdens and dangers imposed upon our country by the waves of illegal immigrants from Venezuela in particular, this does not give any of us the right to show hostility or to take advantage of other human beings who are seeking their survival until they can return to their own country.
We should remember that the shoe could easily have been on the other foot.
The greatest form of independence is a deliberate and conscious separation from all forms of evil. When we are free from the bonds of sin, we can enjoy clarity of vision and nobility of purpose. This can only be achieved by a dependence on Almighty God to whom we entrust ourselves and our nation.
Happy Independence to all!