As I watched the memorial service of Nelson Mandela, Madiba, I could not ignore the persistent drizzle; it was as if the heavens were crying for the loss of such a great soul. It reminded me of the passing of our nation’s father, Eric Williams.
There is no doubt to my mind God is intimately involved in the development of mankind and is pleased when a soul finds the strength and determination to withstand the temptation associated with greed, racism, sectarian interest and power, and embraces love and forgiveness.
I listened to what must have been one of US President Barack Obama’s greatest speeches. He asked himself and the people attending, “How well have I applied Mandela’s values in my own life?” That is the question for all of us.
As we enter the season of Advent, of Christmas, we experience for a brief moment the great feeling one gets from loving others and sharing gifts. We experience the joy one gets from selfless love. It must then be very perplexing and sad that in spite of all we know to be true, all of life’s lessons from individuals like Mandela, many of us continue to hold on to racial prejudices while convincing our friends and acquaintances we are not racial.
At last Sunday’s mass in Moruga, the priest, an immigrant from India, told the congregation the story of a seven-year-old girl of East Indian descent who came to him crying. She complained that a young man of African descent was trying to dance with her, and it traumatised the child. The priest wondered out loud how a seven-year-old possessed such dislike for someone of another ethnicity if not for the prejudices of her parents. He encouraged the congregation to embrace each other in love and cast aside the distrust and hatred associated with racial discrimination.
On this day, at this time of our nation’s history, all of our life’s experiences will be worthless if we are still unable to recognise the privilege we have had to be on earth at the same time with a great soul like Madiba. His life and struggles should instil in us the desire to reach out beyond the constraints of our political and racial biases, and reach out to those who were traditionally opposed to us.
Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to positively impact every citizen’s life and become an example to the world. We are blessed with a racial mix that can demonstrate to many it is possible for people to put aside ethnic differences and embrace love, unity, forgiveness and charity for the benefit of all our people.
This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child and the death of one of the world’s great leaders, let us seek to find within ourselves the strength and determination to work together toward building a better T&T. Rest in peace, Madiba. God bless our nation.