By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI
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We have come to the end of another year. Tomorrow, December 31, my sister, Kamala Ramdeen, Attorney-at-Law and the eldest of Balgobin and Ruby Ramdeen’s seven children, will celebrate her birthday.
She says that as she grows older she realises more and more the importance of thanking God for life. In spite of all the many social ills that beset us, let us thank God for His many gifts.
All is not lost. Remember the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson: “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’.” But it will only be “happier” if we all work diligently to make our country/world a better place. What are your hopes for 2019? Too often we make resolutions for the year to come without really reflecting on what our priorities ought to be.
In a world in which “peace” remains a forlorn dream, I was pleased to note that the theme of Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message for January 1, 2019 is Good politics is at the service of peace.
As Catholic News Service reported “The Vatican said Pope Francis’ message will underline how political responsibility belongs to all citizens, especially those given the mandate ‘to protect and to govern’. This mission consists in safeguarding law and in encouraging dialogue among stakeholders in society, between generations and among cultures. There is no peace without mutual trust. And the first condition for trust is respecting one’s word,” it said.
“Political involvement is one of the loftiest expressions of charity”, it said, and it brings with it a concern for “the future of life and the planet, of the young and the least, in their thirst of fulfillment”. When people’s rights are respected, then they will start to feel their own “duty to respect the rights of others”, the Vatican note said.
“The rights and responsibilities of each person help foster people’s awareness of belonging to the same community with others and with God”, it added. “We are thus called to bring and proclaim peace as the good news of a future where every living being will be respected in its dignity and rights.”
As we move towards a new year, let us reflect on whether or not in T&T we have “good politics that is at the service of peace”. The Catholic Church teaches that each person has a right to participate in the economic, political and cultural life of society and that it is unjust to exclude an individual or group unfairly. Do we think that those on the margins of our society/world; those who cry out for their basic needs to be met just want to make our politicians look bad?
Let us commit during 2019 to start a conversation about how we can achieve ‘good politics’. For all we know, there are politicians who truly believe that they are involved in ‘good governance’ —promoting effective and efficient structures at all levels of governance to emphasise human dignity, human rights, and to build the common good.
And what about the principle of subsidiarity? Good governance involves putting structures in place to promote participatory governance. If good politics is to be at the service of peace, then people in local communities must have opportunities for self-determination and empowerment.
To achieve the common good, we must all work to create conditions in which each person can achieve his/her potential. The Compendium on the Social Doctrine of the Church reminds us that “the common good is the reason that the political authority exists …to ensure the common good, the government of each country has the specific duty to harmonize the different sectoral interests with the requirements of justice . The proper reconciling of the particular goods of groups and those of individuals is, in fact, one of the most delicate tasks of public authority.”
In our diverse society, this is one of the most challenging tasks for politicians. Good politics requires our politicians to DO justice, including distributive justice, as there can be no peace without justice (Blessed Pope Paul VI).
As we draw nearer to local government elections and to another general election, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to stop the ‘gallerying’, the politicking, the blame game, and to help build an inclusive democracy which is people-centred; in which the rule of law prevails and there is accountability, transparency, responsiveness, equality/equity, and a concern for our environment.
Happy New Year!