The great news of the accomplishment of Trinidad and Tobago’s Nicholas Paul is like a beacon in the darkness that too often dominates the headlines in our media. This young cyclist broke the world record in the Men’s Sprint Flying 200 metre cycling event at the Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championship in Cochabamba, Bolivia last Friday, September 6. He went on to win the gold medal in the final of the same event. In the Men’s Team Sprint, Paul and fellow Trinbagonians, Njisane Phillip and Keron Bramble won gold.
Similarly, at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru between late July and mid-August, this country rejoiced in the two gold, eight silver and three bronze medals which our athletes brought home. At these games, 98 of our athletes, competing in 18 sports, represented the country.
By contrast, the headline in the Sunday Express, ‘Drug abuse rampant in nation’s schools’, is a stark reminder that the tragedies that beset our people continue to add to the pall that we have to deal with on a daily basis. This is especially so when our young people, those who will largely determine the course that our nation follows, are both victims and perpetrators of destructive and mindless behaviour.
In today’s gospel reading (Lk 15:1–32), we are exhorted to persevere in faith, to seek that which is lost and to embrace the possibilities of renewal, despite the hopelessness that may appear to dominate our individual and communal situations.
In every community, largely without fanfare, ordinary people continue to carve out hopeful futures for their fellow citizens. While few will dominate sport at the very highest levels, children’s playgrounds are established and maintained so that healthy childhood activity can ensure a positive outcome for young children and pre-teens.
The scourge of childhood obesity, the unhealthy dependence by children on technological devices for entertainment and the anxiety and depression that often accompany these factors are being tackled by low-profile heroes in many neighbourhoods.
Clubs that target the youth with a view to teaching responsibility, team spirit, discipline and the fulfilment that comes from honest effort continue to offer hope. They are designed to engage the young and their older leaders in productive and satisfying activity.
It must never become the norm that we throw up our hands in despair and say that this country is a hopeless place, with no bright prospects for the future and that migration is the only alternative for those fortunate enough to afford to consider ‘greener pastures’.
Now that our country has become ‘greener pastures’ for thousands seeking safe lodging, food and freedom from oppression and persecution, it would be instructive to examine our own attitudes and compare them to that of the faithful son who had never left his father’s home and employ.
The world may not acclaim the patient and constant effort expended by those who love and seek to uplift this land of ours.
Nevertheless, it is not for us to decide that we must deny others the benefits that they seek in their time of desperation.
Our reward awaits us; of that we are assured.