By Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor
Praises to our ancestors, from every creed and race, who endured hardships so that today in 2019 we would be an independent nation.
The First Peoples here, and all those who were brought half-way across the world to work in our islands – those who were forged and branded in the fires of discrimination, racial divides and irrational supremacy but survived because they had hope and prayer.
Hope that their descendants would become a great people in a great nation and who prayed amidst condemnation and persecution for their cultural religions, beliefs and traditions.
Independence is a true celebration for those who, like our ancestors, succeed by the sweat of their brow, hard work and rigorous study, and not just born into their inheritance and powerful positions passed down to them, sometimes advancing their own covert agendas and personal gain at great cost to others.
We celebrate those who continue to feed the hungry and minister to the sick, without acclaim from newspapers or awards given. We celebrate you who continue to work side by side with your neighbours with no heed to colour, race or religion.
The young and not-so-young who after a hard day’s work, can go out and bond with their families and friends. Those of you who keep the fires of hope and prayer burning, even in the midst of present societal fires that threaten to consume us in its negativity. We celebrate you!
But the sweeping fires of retrenchments, malicious calumny and a blatant disregard for human life are increasing in our society. These are intentioned assaults destined to tilt the scales in favour of a loss of self-control in the population due to anxiety and FEAR!
A fear that oppression will succeed once again as in the riots of the 1970s and the ill-fated coup in 1990, so that those with impaired judgements (murderers, fraudsters, abusers and users) lose hope and prey on others.
Those who have lost their way will find it easier to join the ranks of the fires that psychologically ravage the mind and destroy in its paths, as they also lose hope in our leaders and institutions that have failed their families.
Do not lose faith. We are forged in the fires of hope and prayer. Continue to believe this, to hope and to pray.
Many of us know that unless the playing fields in education and employment are levelled, the killing fields will continue. This is the continuation of centuries of oppression – by the ‘haves’, over the ‘have-nots’, by an organised group of people who continue to manipulate and exploit others based on their weaknesses of poverty, unemployment, poor mental health, and deprivation and where the ‘rules of the game’ unfairly benefit one group of people to the unfortunate detriment of another.
When high-functioning persons believe themselves entitled to benefits, they usually are contemptuous of others and see no need to prove anything to anyone, or bound by moral and legal restraints as in the fiasco of the plundering and theft of public funds by prominent politicians and unscrupulous CEOs of state entities.
However, we create a ‘culture of silence’ by our continuing ways which are to look the other way as economic and social abuses are being carried out. We do not advocate for those less fortunate and we seem to be waiting and looking on for something better to happen in our society – but not from us! We believe that if change is to happen, it must come from someone else.
Not all of us can do, but those who can, should do. Others can hope and constantly pray for a better society, one that our ancestors dreamed of. Let us continue to resist vulnerability to corruption and financial exploitation; to coercion and consumer fraud.
Let us choose solutions that empower others; that increase mental and physical stability; that move us in the direction of hope and prayer and betterment for others. Happy Independence, and may God bless our nation.
Dr Nakhid-Chatoor is a clinical and educational psychologist, and President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists (TTAP).
Do not lose faith. We are forged in the fires of hope and prayer. Continue to believe this,
to hope and to pray.