The average citizen could only look on in bemusement at the somewhat shambolic turn of events as the country recently approached the deadline for the inspection of motor vehicles five years old and over. Here was our latest descent into bacchanal and lakouray as thousands of drivers rushed and overwhelmed the inspection centres…all at the last minute. Forget the deadline, forget the previous extension that was given.
Whether due to careless leadership, bad organisation or a careless citizenry, far too often as a society, we manage to make a hash of the simplest measures designed to improve or regulate our way of life.Many would agree that a lot of the time, the average Trini seems to save his or her ‘A-game’ (their best efforts) for matters that are purely private and personal.
Punctuality and politeness are not reserved for our places of employment but to obtain that treasured US visa from the American Embassy. Foresight and early planning are not utilised for example, to get our vehicles inspected for road-worthiness, but for obtaining expensive tickets to a Carnival fete. Patience and courtesy are not for “here” but for the Immigration personnel whom we encounter when we arrive in ‘foreign’ and have to face long lines.
Perhaps a lot of this can be traced to the highly individualistic character of our nation. Years ago, political commentator Dr Kirk Meighoo noted that Trinidad’s history of recent and varied settlement gives it a ‘frontier-like’ quality where law, order and tradition are difficult to maintain or to establish.
It is a culture where individualism is rampant. This, he adds, has played a major role in shaping many of our institutions and indeed our national character.
The Gospel reading this weekend places before us the first of Jesus’ miracles or ‘signs’ as they are known in the theology of John’s gospel. It is noteworthy that wine of the most excellent quality is made from water reserved for ritual washing—for purification.
In its original context, this miracle of producing wine from water, symbolises the arrival of the new messianic age in the teaching and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.
The wedding feast (here and in the parables of Jesus) is a symbol of the messianic banquet. The messianic bridegroom himself produces new wine out of water meant for Old Testament washings.
If read in this story the saga of our national life, then our life together may be compared to a wedding banquet, and Mary’s plea to Jesus is ours as well: “they (we) have no wine!”.
What is this wine that we lack? It is perhaps best described as a sense of connectedness and commonality of purpose. It is the solidarity that should exist between persons so that each is dedicated to the good of the other. It means the moral consciousness required (the sense of what is good or bad for the nation) to sustain our life together as a people.
This new wine is made from the water used for purification. In a similar way, it is only when we are steeped in the watery tears of repentance, self-reflection and inner renewal that we can begin to bring about new wine.