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Put the body politic first

The nation is fearful and tense. Despite all medical attempts to flatten the curve, infections continue at an alarming rate. Medical statisticians cannot say with certainty that the spike was a post-Easter phenomenon, whether by people flocking to family gatherings and beaches or 50,000 going to Tobago. In any case, what is of greater concern right now is keeping the infection rate down and not overwhelming the parallel hospital system.

How can we achieve this? One important way is through good leadership. We are grateful for the Prime Minister’s regular press briefings and genuine concern. We think the medical fraternity has done a great job in keeping us abreast of the latest developments. But we too, like so many, think much more can be done.

Why this rancour between Government and Opposition? They have settled for an acrimonious relationship instead of uniting to fight a deadly foe. We know they can do better.

We want visible signs on both sides of putting country first, not tribalism and fighting for votes. It would be a great example of leadership if each were to praise each other for the good done by both sides during the pandemic.

It would be even greater leadership to take a negative and turn it into a positive. Not every charge of recklessness on one side should be met by an equally reckless charge on the other.

The atmosphere is also ripe for a language of empowerment. Like a mother constantly urging her children to follow the right path, so our leaders must encourage us and affirm us. Psychologists tell us that if we want to be successful at behavioural modification, the fewer “nots” we use, the better. Honey, not aloes.

In the gospel for Corpus Christi (June 3), Jesus says: “Take it; this is my body.” He spells out the uniqueness of His body but also of all bodies.

Corpus Christi proclaims all bodies are important—our bodies, our neighbour’s body, the body of the Church, the body of the nation, and of the world since the bread is “fruit of the earth”.

The President used Corpus Christi language at the recent National Day of Prayer when she said, “we are first and foremost Trinbagonians, members of one body”.

Corpus Christi also invites us to feed hungry bodies. The State of Emergency may help keep us safe from that lethal virus, but it will not feed us.

There needs to be a comprehensive communication strategy involving government, private sector and civil society aimed at, on one hand, encouraging the population to live safely. What better way to achieve this than to flood our TV and social media screens with ads towards this end?

On the other hand, we need to know through smart advertising how we can feed ourselves at this time. We are proud of ourselves for we are a generous people. Now we are called to be even more generous.

The gospel accounts of the multiplication of the loaves and fish implies the Lord calls us to abundant generosity.

As we celebrate another Corpus Christi under lockdown, we are saddened that we cannot process and adore. Let us then gaze on the inside. Let us hear the Lord urging us to adore His body by honouring the bodies of our nation’s citizens.

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