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God isn’t ah Trini…He is all ah we!’

By Fr Stephan Alexander
General Manager, CCSJ and AMMR

Many things happen in life that we are unable to control. Natural disasters exemplify this reality. Yet, our response to such events —and to all life’s challenges — is generally within our control.

Hurricane Beryl’s trek through our region was a traumatic occurrence, with at least seven recorded deaths. Devastation was one of the words used in the aftermath of hurricane Beryl to describe the storm’s impact on several of our neighbouring islands, particularly Carriacou, Petite Martinique and Union, where “more than 90% of the homes and buildings [were] either destroyed or severely damaged”. Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dickon Mitchell, described the damage to Carriacou and Petite Martinique as “almost Armageddon-like, almost total damage and destruction of all buildings. Complete devastation and destruction of agriculture. Complete and total destruction of the natural environment.”

No one can fully  prepare for such  experiences. Those spared the trauma often express some form of gratitude. For instance, the familiar exclamation ‘God is ah Trini’ was trumpeted from the windows of homes to pulpits as Trinbagonians celebrated their escape with power outages, water disruptions and flooding in certain areas.

I’m reliably informed that this ‘Trini adage’ has been successfully exported since persons could be heard saying ‘God is ah Bajan’ after Barbados was also spared the worst of Hurricane Beryl. Yet what of those sisters and brothers of ours in Carriacou, Petite Martinique, Union, Canouan, Mayreau and Palm Island? For them, it seems God isn’t one of them.

The phrase ‘God is a Trini’ originated as a genuine response of gratitude to habitually dodging the brunt of storms. Hurricane Flora’s assault on Tobago in September 1963 was the last major occurrence.

Since then, storms like Fran, Arthur and Bret in 1990, 1993 and 2000 respectively, have veered away at the last moment, cementing the phrase ‘God is ah Trini’. Yet, this mantra unintentionally underscores a lack of preparation against natural disasters, exacerbating  trauma for those directly affected. Again, for them, God isn’t one of them. He looks after others but not them.

Catholic Social Teaching (CST) underscores the principle of solidarity in such situations. Solidarity shines a light on our connected humanity, our interdependence and the mutual responsibilities of people to each other, locally and across the globe. It is about recognising others as our brothers and sisters and actively working for their good.


Show solidarity instead

Many have already responded to the Church’s call to provide essentials such as water, food, medication and baby supplies to survivors on Carriacou, and the other affected islands. This is a wonderful demonstration of solidarity.

However, working for the good of those in our region who regularly experience natural disasters extends to our proper planning and preparation so that ‘God is ah Trini’ isn’t our only protection against these occurrences. If we successfully manage and mitigate future damage, we will be able to assist our neighbours.

Yet, if we fail to prepare and are severely impacted, we will, ourselves, need help and won’t be able to assist anyone.

Solidarity is also about providing what is needed, that is, responding to actual necessities rather than perceived necessities. It’s important that we communicate with people and agencies on the ground to identify the actual needs, the urgency of those needs and utilise proper channels that allow those necessities to reach affected persons in need in a timely fashion.

Finally, solidarity is abandoning statements that may be hurtful, insensitive and which may cause harm to the extent that they trivialise the faith and experiences of others. ‘God is ah Trini’ should no longer be a statement of thanksgiving. It’s a poor attempt at humour. A better attempt at solidarity through humour is demonstrated in Jamaican reggae artist Lloyd Lovindeer’s 1988 song ‘Wild Gilbert’ released after Hurricane Gilbert. The brilliance of this song exists in Lovindeer’s ability to turn calamity into a shared cultural experience as he skilfully and humorously expressed his “sympathies to those affected by Gilbert”.

God isn’t ah Trini. He isn’t Bajan. He is one ah we! All ah we! The incarnation of Jesus confirms Christ’s humanity. Solidarity invites tangible expressions of our care for each other. In each other we recognise Jesus. In Jesus it is always possible to recognise the transcendent love of God-with-us, who walks with His people, saves them and makes them one.


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