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Peace must take precedence over power

The gospel reading from Matthew this weekend (Mt 22:34–40) underscores the two greatest commandments: to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself.

However, there appears to be a profound disconnect between these teachings and the current state of the world marked by wars, gang warfare, power struggles, and a pervasive absence of love.

Failing to recognise that every person we encounter reflects Christ, we find ourselves amidst a global landscape where the pursuit of power often takes precedence over compassion.

Jesus taught us that how we treat the least among us reflects our treatment of Him. This truth resonates painfully in conflicts such as the Israeli-Gaza conflict, the Russia-Ukraine war, internal struggles in Africa, gang warfare in Mexico, and the alarming rates of criminal and gang activities in the Caribbean, including right here in Trinidad and Tobago.

In the face of these challenges, there is a compelling need for believers to internalise the teachings of the Bible and set an example for non-believers, fostering a world where people see Christ in each other, cultivating love and understanding.

Likewise, political leaders must recognise citizens as partners in building a better society, working together for the common good.

While Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley sought help to address the crime situation in CARICOM and Trinidad and Tobago during his recent visit to Canada, there is an opportunity for both the government and the opposition to come together and engage in constructive dialogue on this issue.

It is essential for leaders to put aside partisan differences and collaborate in finding effective crime-fighting strategies that will benefit the nation.

In the face of these challenges, the failure of politicians to unite in the face of a national crisis exacerbates the challenges faced by the people.

The country grapples with rising unemployment, growing poverty, and crime spiralling out of control. A pervasive sense of hopelessness has permeated every corner of the nation, evident even within some of our schools where cases of student expulsion and suspension for misconduct in the classroom are on the rise.

We find ourselves in a dark place that demands collective action. It is evident that without a return to Jesus’ teachings on love and a conscious decision to turn back to God, both our country and the world are headed for further distress.

Let us remember the words of Pope Francis in his 2014 invocation for peace, relevant not just for the Middle East but for the entire world.

He prayed, “Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into instruments of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarrelling into forgiveness.

“Keep alive within us the flame of hope so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way, may peace triumph at last, and may the words division and hatred be banished from the heart of every man and woman.”