There are times when the physician must pay attention, not just to the symptoms that the patient might display at a particular time, but all the vital signs and all the data. Only then would she be able to make a diagnosis and prescribe the remedy to cure the ailment. Let us look at the patient T&T.
Trinidad and Tobago has been among the top five countries in searches for pornography on the internet. In 2016 and 2017, we were the number one country per capita searching for porn. Now we are in the top three countries in the world searching for gay porn. The numbers are extremely high, with most searches originating mainly from rural areas. This should be alarming to us for all sorts of reasons.
Neuroscience tells us that addiction to pornography might be as dangerous as addiction to cocaine. The brain on porn lights up in the same way as the brain of someone using cocaine. This should tell us something. Also, we are in the top four in the world searching for black gay porn.
Among our youth population, I would say that pornography addiction in T&T is a pandemic. Young people are stumbling into porn as early as five years old. This is traumatic for a child. The pre-pubescent child does not understand what is happening in their bodies when she or he is being exposed to porn on the screen.
When we consider the high ratio of searches for porn, what does it say about our beloved nation, T&T? There is a serious cry of distress in our nation that we need to hear, address, and heal. So, pause a while and listen to this cry.
We are ranked the sixth highest for violent crime per capita in the world. The nations with the highest crime rates are: Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Afghanistan, and Honduras. These nations have high national trauma and much more political instability than we have. Why are we in this group?
The national murder rate has been a topic of conversation for the last two decades. While successive governments have campaigned on this topic, no remedy has been effective. The murder rate continues to rise, despite the efforts, investments, or tactics of those entrusted with the safety of our nation.
On its own, our murder rate is alarming. But looking at it together with all the other social evils, it may tell a story about us and our desperate need for healing and redemption.
There is so much that is good about Carnival. I have explored that in much detail elsewhere. However, the growing indecency both in costume and behaviour is embarrassing.
Our young women are in public in clothes that border on exhibitionism. Costumes no longer leave anything to the imagination. There seems to be a need to expose the body in the fete, in the Tobago lime after CXC, or in this or that Carnival band.
There is something about decency and prudence that is rejected today. In rejecting them, we deny that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
I am aware that this is driven by international fashion that has filtered into weddings, with as much cleavage exposed as possible. But the local costumes push the boundaries way beyond other areas of fashion.
If Carnival is a mirror of the soul of the nation, then there is something here of enormous depth that we need to understand.
In the corruption perception index, the lower the rank, the more corrupt. Trinidad ranks 82nd of 180 nations. This does not look too bad until you realise that Barbados is ranked 29, Bahamas 30, St Vincent 36, St Lucia 42, Dominica 45, Grenada 52, and Jamaica 70. So, among the newly independent Caribbean nations we rank very poorly.
Gail Alexander of the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian claims: “A total of 1,831 Suspicious Transaction and Suspicious Activity reports worth $27 billion were received over 2019 to 2020 by the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago—the most it has received in its 10-year history” (March 6, 2021).
We should not be surprised; remember Peter Minshall in his trilogy River, prophesied this.
Man Crab with its greed and technology was killing Washer Woman to corrupt the nation. In one interview Minshall said: “I think we have to start working on our soul; rather, on our collective soul. I think that in the 50 years of Independence, the soul of the country, with a bright glare of spotlight on it, has withered. The place is magical, but the politics has driven much of the magic underground, and I get frightened.”
Addiction to negativity
In our nation, as I have written before, negativity is an addiction. It is not just that we point out the negatives, it is that we seem committed to negativity. That is both an attitude and a way of seeing the world.
This commitment keeps us shackled in the view that we are incapable of changing ourselves, the culture, and the society at large. This is fuelled by the talk shows, the social media, and many individuals.
It is important to see this as one ailment amongst the many ailments that are glaring in our society. I also agree with Minshall that this is a challenge of the soul—a deeply spiritual problem.
In his research on the First Peoples, Eduardo Duran has coined the term “soul wound” to describe the deep collective, historical trauma that has led to social, spiritual, psychological, and medical challenges of a nation’s First People.
The research shows that “soul wounds can manifest in a variety of ways, including depression, anxiety, anger, addiction, and other mental and physical health issues. They can also lead to a sense of disconnection, disorientation, and loss of cultural identity. People who experience soul wounds may feel a sense of unease or dis-ease, a feeling that something is not right with themselves, their community, or the world at large.”
Deep trauma is one paradigm by which we can begin to examine our challenges in Trinidad and Tobago today. Consider the various ailments in our society. Consider them together and see what picture is painted—high porn use, high murder rate, the public indecency, addiction to negativity and high levels of corruption.
All these trends are heading in the wrong direction. The patient is getting worse, sicker, and sicker each day. We must find a way to healing.
I have used the term “soul wound”, to honour the understanding of systematic historical trauma. But I also want to recognise it as a spiritual wound.
I believe Minshall is correct. For healing this wound, justice needs to be restored. Individuals need to be treated for trauma.
Our vital connection to God, the individual, and the whole community needs to be restored. This is a collective trauma that we all share in individually.
We all need to take individual responsibility and collective action that is both psychological and spiritually healthy. We can’t cure or change something, until we know what is there, and admit we need help.
When you look at the vital signs, we are a nation with a deep soul wound. Trauma is manifest in so many ways.
Reflect on the addictions in your life and your family. Go to God and ask for the grace to move to sobriety.