World Cup Football, Cricket and Carnival give us insightful glimpses into the unifying possibilities that are inherent in Trinidadian society. These monumental occasions and several lesser ones are what make Trinidadians really feel like “all ah we is one.” Whether it is the euphoria, the music, the alcohol or the combined effect of all of the above, these occasions convince us that Trinidad is the greatest place on earth. Then in comes the divisive issues of politics, religion, class and race - artificial constructs - to steal the love and make us feel that we are so fundamentally different that we can’t get along on this little rock. Consequently, crime, under/unemployment and a plethora of other social issues raise their ugly heads and paradise becomes a living hell.
I understand that every day cannot be World Cup, Cricket, Carnival or for that matter, any cause for celebration day, but think of the possibilities for this society if every creed and race could indeed find an equal place. No! I am not referring to Thomas Moore’s Utopia. I mean T&T, A virtual paradise in the Caribbean. A model for the world to emulate. Call me naïve, but I believe that this is possible. When Trinis of every stripe come together in celebration, it is not a show but a genuine demonstration of pride and affection. For the country, as picturesque as the land may be, is nothing without the people who call it home. When I meet Trinis in the outside world, our Trinidadianess brings us together. Regardless of racial compositions or social class, that accent brings out a familiarity that warms us. The inevitable question is asked; “you from Trinidad?”
Actually, it is as much a question as it is a statement. A knowing that is analogous to kinship.
So what is it that creates these divisions when we are in the land we claim to love and there is no official celebration going on? We know who we are better than anyone else does. We know what we feel when we come together to celebrate on any occasion. In fact, the world stands amazed when they encounter us as individuals or as a collective. They feel our passion for life. They feel our rhythm. Yet we are not naïve nor are we a stupid people. In fact, we have made and continue to make indelible marks on the pages of world history. We have competed in every arena and those who bore witness will never forget our contributions or us. We know these things to be true. Our artists have taken our culture throughout the world and have immortalized us in calypsoes like “Portrait of Trinidad”, “God Bless Our Nation” and “If Trinidad is a Boat.” among numerous other compositions. Our Carnival is now world-renowned and people come from everywhere to be a part of this annual celebration. We lived multiculturalism long before the word was coined. Our multiculturalism is a product of our history. The racial callalloo that are “our people” is visual evidence of this truth. According to Sniper, “our scholars have sat and passed every test, and put us right longside the rest”. We have made our mark in the international beauty arena. We have claimed gold in the summer Olympics. Now Soca Worriors have given us even more reason to be proud and glad. This list is not exhaustive. This little country has left a litany of indelible marks on the world stage based on our achievements in every field. All this and we only occupy an area of 1,864 sq.mls and host a population of approx. 1.3 million people. Is this not a story of biblical proportion, like that of David and Goliath?
Everywhere in the world every race, every class and every religion want to carve out a piece of the earth for themselves and hug it. In their quest they practice ethnic cleansing, genocide, religious bigotry and have people dodging bullets and bombs on a daily basis. Yet, Trinidadians in this amorphous mass, find numerous common grounds for celebration. I believe in our indomitable spirit. I believe that as Trinis we could show the world how to live. Our multicultural and multi racial make up, puts us in a unique position to be a model nation that the rest of the world would want to emulate. We have so much to be thankful for, acres of diamonds if you will. We are rich in heritage, in resources, in talent and skill. In the deepest recesses of our Caribbean bellies, we know that our people are outstanding human beings. We have been through much together historically and we have triumphed in the face of adversity. Things that make other people cry and vouch to take revenge, we laugh as if to say that “that too shall pass” and we fire one as if it done pass already. Predictably it passes and we sit down and talk about it while having a good laugh. It is the Trinidadian way.
Sadly, instead of rallying around the fine qualities that identify us as Trinidadians and building upon our strengths, we gravitate towards the things that divide us as it does the rest of the world. Which Trinidadian regardless of class, colour or creed doh identify with roti, bake and shark, fete match, calypso, old talk and beach lime? Eh!
Everyday in Trinidad yuh could kill yuhself laughing just from the things that people say and do. This land is alive and pulsating. It have ah spirit that is uniquely Trinidadian but is often taken for granted. That is why we miss it so much when we are not at home. Take it from me, what we have is rare, unique and precious and must be safeguarded. The little things we take for granted is what makes life worth living. As simply as they are, these are the ties bind us. Ah telling yuh.
Sometimes people doh really know what they have. They only miss the water after the well run dry. Doh let it come to that. Doh let politics, religion, class, and race rob us of the things that makes us who we are. Doh let Trinidad become like North America, Europe and the rest of the world where the only thing that matters is how much money yuh have, what class yuh belong to or what is yuh race or religion. Doh let we start killing one another because we doh worship the same God. Or because we belong to different political parties. These divisive issues pit people against each other and could reap havoc in a country. They create clusters that alienate those who do not share the vision, whatever that may be. Consequently, it fuels resentment, create complexes, encourages discrimination and in worst-case scenarios, it lead to violence and bloodshed. I refuse to envision a Trinidad in which differences are denounced and colour, class, race, religion etc. are worth more than the spirit of the people who give life to this land that we claim to love.
This is not a pipe dream but a reminder that we need to be thankful for small mercies. I believe that a truly united Trinidad is possible. We have the people, we have the wealth, we have the personalities to create paradise on earth, but to do that we must ensure that things that are fundamental to minimum living standards are established. Food, housing, education, health care etc. must be rights not privileges and must be enshrined in our constitution. Creating a society in which all people have a sense of hope and numerous opportunities for advancement, is more important than one that encourages divisions and strife. I truly believe that if we provide for the basic needs of our people, every day will bring us reasons to celebrate and the social issues that plague the country will be greatly reduced. Despite our increasing wealth, the current climate of crime, corruption, racial and political strife does not inspire hope. People are stressed, frightened and are fleeing. Call me simplistic, naïve or ignorant, but will it really hurt to try and rescue the nation from its downward spiral? I would rather live in a land where every day brings reasons to celebrate than one in which I feel no peace of mind.
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