by Vernon Khelawan
Three days ago, in celebratory mood, we observed the 55th anniversary of our nation’s independence. Some folks went to the beach, others partied at home, some made sure they attended the formal celebrations at the Queen’s Park Savannah and still others just limed the day away. That’s how Trinis usually spend their Independence Day holiday.
But during all the celebrations complete with back slapping and standard wishes, how many persons thought about taking time out to thank Almighty God for the last 55 years? And given the state of nation, the dire situations many of us face, how many thought of some form of introspection?
This is not only about calling on God to help us through prayers. It is about how we live as a people; how we deal with each other. You need not be reminded about charity, kindness, love, forgiveness and being nice to your friends and neighbours and in some cases even family. It’s about you setting a good example in everything you do.
I know for a fact that just a few of us thought of the state of the economy; the murder rate on the increase; horrendous criminal activities; corruption; lawlessness and the list can go on. How many thought of people who hold positions of trust and should be the epitome of integrity (police officers; politicians; leaders in business) who set bad examples?
Our National Anthem, which we have been singing now for 55 years, seems hardly influential on most of the population. So, the question arises: does any part of the anthem impact positively on people who call themselves Trinidadians and Tobagonians?
There’s a stanza in the anthem which reads: “Side by side we stand, islands of the blue Caribbean Sea; This our native land, we pledge our lives to thee. Where every creed and race find an equal place.” This part of the anthem tells the entire story – it just needs for us to practise what we sing.
So, what this anthem is urging us to do, is stand side by side regardless of ethnicity, class, economic fortunes or role in society. We all belong here; we all live here; we work here; and we all party here. There’s no room for hatred, violence, bigotry and racial antagonism. We must be one people under God.
In many of our Catholic churches these days, you can hear the strains of the hymn/song “Heal Our Land”, from the book Caribbean Worship and Song. It calls on God to heal our broken land. The chorus reads: “Lord heal our land, Father heal our land. Hear our cries and turn our nation back to you. Lord heal our land. Hear us O Lord and heal our land. Forgive our sins and heal our broken land.”
This hymn/song evokes the spirit of God to help us bring back this nation like it used to be, free from crime, corruption and lawlessness. This is a serious message and one we should observe closely. It is simply a clarion call for our people to ask God to heal our broken land.