All people of goodwill would have been profoundly distressed, if not made afraid, by the post-General Elections’ behaviour, which seems to erupt every five years.
It makes one wonder, for the period in-between, what is seething beneath the surface and about the encounters (if any) which trigger the vitriol.
Our politics, unfortunately, has become a safe space for hatred and intolerance, is the antithesis to both the nation’s anthem and motto, and alienating to a part of the population.
There is justification on both sides of the divide for the contempt: each group was deemed ‘more racist’; and the ‘natural’ reaction was to respond in like manner in what seemed to be the basest competition in whom can formulate and use the grossest stereotypes.
Eugenics (‘put something in the water to stop them [Africans] from breeding’); rape (‘rape all the women [Indian] to douglarise the nation’); and violence (‘arm yourself’) were calls to action written comfortably. Some members of the nation have reached a full stop in bare civility and right thinking.
The Archbishop in a powerful message delivered from the chapel at Archbishop’s House admonished that regardless of the hyphen used, what came after, the ‘Trinidadian’, must take precedence.
A Catholic News article on July 19 (‘A brown Christ, not a white one’) examined the features of implicit bias, and the conscious efforts that must be undertaken to counteract them.
What was seen post-election was the fruition of careless language, and flawed perceptions, perhaps passed down unfiltered for generations and creating a disposition of mistrust and hate. Which one of us has not been the victim of unprovoked dislike and stereotype simply because of phenotype?
At foundation, racism is the weapon of the unthinking and the willing ignorant, the individual who is loathe to encounter another as a person and not a template.
The Catholic Church as a body stands firmly against all acts of hate, prejudice and discrimination.
Racism is a sin. Church teaching is clear on this point.
In Gaudium et Spes (‘The Church in the Modern World’): “But any kind of social or cultural discrimination in basic personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language or religion, must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design” (#29,Vatican II, 1965)
Pope St John Paul II said: “Man’s creation by God ‘in his own image’ confers upon every human person an eminent dignity; it also postulates the fundamental equality of all human beings. For the Church, this equality, which is rooted in man’s being, acquires the dimension of an altogether special brotherhood through the Incarnation of the Son of God…. In the Redemption effected by Jesus Christ the Church sees a further basis of the rights and duties of the human person. Hence every form of discrimination based on race…is absolutely unacceptable” (#17, The Church and Racism: Towards a More Fraternal Society, Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace, 1988)
We deny the inherent dignity and sanctity of the person in front of us when we succumb to racism, and degrade ourselves by believing and voicing racist narratives. As individuals, now that the number of rising COVID cases has sent us to our rooms, let us truly, during our periods of prayer and reflection, examine how we have denied the dignity of the other.
There is a call to something greater for all of us, and certainly the stirrings are there based on the number of young people, the Z generation, who came out in support of a better Trinidad and Tobago.
Let’s pause, thank God that we have been blessed with a beautiful and diverse population and promise to every day strive to act for the good of all citizens, regardless of political affiliation, colour of skin, economic position, and texture of hair.