Archbishop Joseph Harris said that at 55, Trinidad and Tobago is still a child in comparison to other nations, and one who exhibits both wellness and ill-health. He said at this point the nation was going through a “bout of illness”.
Preaching the homily at last Sunday’s ‘Independence Day Mass’, Archbishop Harris said that the “serious national malaise” was manifested by “the spate of murders, the unbridled corruption, the coarse and demanding nature of our national discourse, the pandering of political parties to their ethnic bases, in this period of economic decline, the absence of a viable and equitable safety net…the inability of Government and opposition to come together for the good of the nation….”
He drew an analogy to the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission’s programme, Common Sense Parenting, where behavioural change is encouraged through discipline and the acceptance of personal responsibility. This he felt, was the solution to the ills currently pervading the nation: a change in mindset where discipline and personal responsibility are at the core.
Citing the First Reading, the archbishop averred that Trinidad and Tobago had let itself be seduced by indiscipline, by pleasure, and by money: “we are so focused on the acquiring of things and on pleasure and comfort that we no longer have a sense of personal responsibility for the state of our nation.”
In the Second Reading, however, the will of God is made clear: “Strategically placed geographically, like Israel of old and made up as we are of various ethnicities and religious persuasions, we are meant to show to the world that it is possible for peoples of varying ethnicities and religious persuasions to live together in peace and harmony. This however depends on the renewing of our minds,” the archbishop said.
He urged the worshippers gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to reflect on the day of Independence. “May August 31st, for the next few years be a moment, not only to witness our military might, not only to see our military personnel parade through our streets to the sound of military marches played with a calypso beat, not only see the fireworks but much more to reflect on our progress as a nation and to commit ourselves to behavioural change, through discipline, tolerance, production and the Golden rule [personal responsibility], and may God bless our nation.”
President Anthony Carmona, then Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, Speaker of the House Bridgid Annisette- George, Mayor of Port of Spain Joel Martinez, and other government ministers were in attendance, as well as Sharon Rowley, wife of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.