By Raffique Shah
July 05, 2017
I am convinced that God, in whatever manifestation the people of this multi-religious society pray to him, has given up on Trinidad & Tobago. How else can we explain the near-total breakdown of systems that define a functioning nation? The economy is in a mess. Criminals are in control, striking at will. Lawlessness reigns supreme. And rather than work together to rescue the country from collapse, the politicians resort to jammette-like behaviour in Parliament, cackling like yard-fowls, literally saying to us, well, didn’t you elect Jean and Dinah to represent you?
I am convinced that God read Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Divine Comedy, and decided that the natives have turned the Trini-paradise He had gave them into Hell as described by Dante, from the small-but-powerful Mid-Eastern elites, through the political overseers and buffer middle class, to the masses who, mired in poverty, turn on each other like crabs in a barrel, slaughtering the innocent and the guilty in an orgy of violence even He finds unimaginable.
For the uninformed, in Dante’s Inferno, “Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of torment located within the Earth; it is the ‘realm … of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen’.” (Wikipedia)
It is as if the legendary poet, who lived in the 14th Century, long before Columbus accidentally “discovered” Trinidad, possessed a futuristic periscope through which he saw images of T&T in the 21st Century. Being agnostic, I cannot comment with authority on people’s rejection of spiritual values. But even the blind can see too many in the society yielding “to bestial appetites (and) violence”, and “perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen”.
The politicians, the wealthy and the plebes have reduced a country that was bountiful in resources—hydrocarbons, fertile land, marine life and considerable human capital—into a wasteland, having squandered or stolen our patrimony in a short 60 years or fewer. The said Philistines have spawned generations of beasts-in-human-form who unleash unspeakable acts of violence on their fellowmen, worst of all on helpless old people and innocent babes, descending into a kind of barbarism that resembles Dante’s tormented Hell.
What probably sealed our fate with God was that these Trini-sinners engage in their excesses in His name.
Pray to God, the politicians tell the nation, for the price of oil to rebound and rescue the blighted economy…and give them more money to squander and pilfer. Pray for an end to the tidal wave of crime that threatens to drown us all. Pray for our children so they may choose school and education instead of the crime-labs that exist in most communities. Pray that the health institutions magically save lives. Pray for safety on the roads, for potholes to be repaired… Pray, pray, pray.
The acting Commissioner of Police leads his officers in prayers for an end to crime, and calls on the public to join in. Taxpayers pay them not to stop or solve crime, but to pray for divine intervention. Trade unionists pray for wage increases. Workers spend more time praying than producing. Judges and magistrates pray, presumably to lighten their case-loads and speed up justice since they are powerless to do it. And in this country where God/s name is invoked for every venture, I won’t doubt that bandits and murderers pray before they commit crimes.
T&T must have the most places of worship per square kilometre anywhere in the world. Cathedrals, churches, mosques, mandirs, palatial Pentecostal edifices litter the land. The business of praying is thriving such that churches are among the biggest advertisers on television, and pastors live in luxury off immoral earnings, robbing their flocks at bible-point.
Last Sunday morning, just to confirm what I thought, I scanned cable television from channels one through twenty, and every local station, even State-owned Channels Four, Six and Twelve, featured preachers in full flight. Based on advertisements I see on the local commercial stations, their overnight programming is all prayers. Every night.
So much bible-thumping, Koran-recitals, Gita-chanting and God knows what else, yet the nation sinks deeper into decay, rotting from head to tail. Doesn’t that tell those who insist that people must pray more, that God no longer listens to Trinis? That He turns the proverbial deaf ear to the mass of hypocrites that we are?
As I stated early in this column, I am not knowledgeable in this sphere, so I seek guidance from the good priests, imams, pundits, etc.
Convince me that God-de-Trini has not abandoned us, maybe even switched allegiance, fed up of our hypocrisy, our double, nay, quadruple standards. Tell me that Trinidad and Tobago is not the latter-day Sodom and Gomorrah, a den of iniquity, a haven for thieves big and small, white collar and no collar.
Assure me that patriots should not flee this cussed country, and not look back lest we turn into heaps of dung.