Monthly Archives: September 2014

What is a KRISIS?

IMG_0863.JPG

The easiest answer to that question will be Keith Rowley as Prime Minister in 2015 given the fact the Honourable Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar declared her support for against terrorism while at the United Nations in New York last week.   The leadership of the PM last week at the UN must be commended and again she has demonstrated her suitability for leading Trinidad and Tobago for a second term.   ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) will still be a factor next year and a continued threat to the peace and security of the civilized world.

Let us ask another question: Who would you rather represent Trinidad and Tobago during the 2015 UN General Assembly? Kamla or Keith? Our answer is resoundingly Kamla.   Here is why. She has drawn a defining line on concrete that demonstrates our support for international action against terrorism and terrorist fighters who might seek to return to their homeland to launch possible attacks.

This was a strong and significant stance for a small island developing state.   This will have an impact on the wider region through CARICOM and steps should be taken to ensure that small island developing states have the necessary legislation in place to prevent returning nationals with connections to ISIS and other known terrorist organizations.   Furthermore legislative mechanisms must be in place to prevent terrorists and their financiers from using our banks to move monies to support their deadly actions.

Dr. Keith Rowley’s criticism of the PM stance has officially disqualified him from ever gracing the platform of the United Nations to address world leaders and by extension the world. This is evidence of a distorted worldview that not only embraces radical extremism and fundamentalism but it is becoming the defining philosophy and ideology of the PNM under the leadership of Dr. Rowley. Will the UN be the scene as it has in the past of the chants of madmen in the likes of former Libyan ruler Colonel Gaddafi or former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? What rapport will Dr. Rowley cultivate with world leaders who have taken a decisive stance against terrorism?

Under the leadership of Dr. Rowley the PNM has blazed the trail defining itself as right-wing neo-nationalist party.   The failure to condemn global terrorism by the political leader they have taken on a new position of isolationist. This is a dangerous and threatening development that will marginalize Trinidad and Tobago should Dr. Rowley become Prime Minister.     The world rejected ideology of this nature and underpinning when Germany was defeated during World War II, which led to the establishment of the United Nations.   Should Dr. Rowley ever have the opportunity to address the United Nations General Assembly he will undermine the very existence of that institution.     This will be a krisis for Trinidad and Tobago with the initials of Keith Rowley all over it. We cannot allow this to happen. It will be consequential because we don’t know what his intentions.   Neutrality against global terrorism is not an option for a developing state, regardless of its location, geographic size and population.

All nations know their capacity but nations must seek to stand of the right side of history.   What are the economic consequences and implications of an isolationist foreign policy?   Divestment is just a beginning.   Will the Northern Range become the next hideout for terrorists like mountains and caves of Afghanistan?

Let us bring it closer to home.   The gangs and open warfare in our country evident by the actions of some individuals last Thursday night was an open attack against the state.   In other words, it is terrorism.   Anytime people are terrified, it is a form of terrorism and ironically Dr. Rowley has failed to condemn this. The people of Laventille and environs, the strongholds of the PNM live under the daily threat of terrorism.   This is not only because of guns and bullets but the vicious cycle of psychological terrorism that threatens the little they may have because of policies that were perpetuated by the PNM since the founding of our nation in 1962.

The conditions are ripe for the type of terrorism that blows up buildings and bring down airplanes or use them as weapons of destruction.   Disenfranchised young men with guns that create with them a false sense of empowerment whereby they terrify their neighbors and brazen enough to attack the state.     This was the script for 1990. It must never happen again.

We repeat: This is evidence of a distorted worldview that not only embraces radical extremism and fundamentalism but it is becoming the defining philosophy of the PNM under the leadership of Dr. Rowley.

He is out of touch and we must ask, “what kinda outta timing ting that is?”

He is wrong for Trinidad and Tobago.

He is leading a significant part of the population, many of whom are good people, many of whom are my family members but unable to understand international politics, out of now fault of their own.

As one talk show host said, “they are lost in a wilderness darker than sin.”

Let us take heed and reject this.

Dr Keith Rowley is a KRISIS.

Or is he part of ISIS?

Advertisements

3 for 1: PM on ISIS, Kublalsingh continues to starve & Bullets on Besson Street

IMG_0862.JPG

I have no clue where to begin but the intention is to kill a few birds with one stone.   While I could have addressed all three issues in three separate pieces, time does not permit today. We will address the PM on the international stage at the UN, the continued hunger strike of Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh and the events at the Besson Street Police Station on Thursday night as it relates to the fight against crime in Trinidad and Tobago.

Much of the PM’s time was spent at the United Nations 69th General Assembly at the annual converging of world leaders in New York City.     Most notably was the PM stance against global terrorism as the world responds to the international threat of ISIS.   The PM addressed the Security Council and acted as a co-sponsor to the unanimously agreed up resolution brought by the United States President Barack Obama against foreign terrorist fighters.

As a small island developing state Trinidad and Tobago may not have the manpower or capacity to send tomahawk missiles to blow up ISIS terrorists camps, but the fight against terrorism is a borderless global fight.   The financial and funding networks required to move money globally to fund terrorist operations is an example of one thing small states can do.   Ensuring appropriate legislation to prosecute those who fund and channel money to terrorist and terrorist organizations and mechanisms for intelligence collection and sharing between states are factors that must be taken into consideration and small states can lead this charge.

So while Trinidad and Tobago won’t be bombing ISIS measures to ensure that the state does not condone terrorism co-sponsorship was as step in right direction. There are even reports that nationals (upwards of 50) of Trinidad and Tobago are fighting with ISIS in Syria. The awareness factor is a strong international stance to do the right thing while supporting measures that are in the what is in the best interest for humanity.

Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh continues his hunger strike with hopes that he will remain alive before the Prime Minister returns to Trinidad and Tobago.   This man has a death wish and must come to the realization before his impending demise due to his failure to eat that the highway will be built. There will be no re-routing and his shortsighted belief that his possibly death will be on the hands of the PM and her government.

This public relations stunt as so evidently realized by Kublalsingh’s desire to fly to New York to meet with the PM during her trip to the United Nations is but one example of why he should stop and find a new cause.     This behavior should not be condoned and Dr. Kublalsingh must stop his antics whether they involve sending “tires of shame” to the PM’s residence or starving himself for public attention. Should he consider himself fit enough to provide some measure of spiritual leadership for Trinidad and Tobago perhaps he should fast (which is different from a hunger strike) to get a revelation on strategies for fighting crime.

Lastly, as a nation we need a come to Jesus moment when dealing with crime. If you are not supporting criminals then neutrality is not an option when tackling crime. There should be no politics involved in fighting crime in the same way there should be no politics when dealing with terrorism.   However, in Trinidad and Tobago crime has major political overtones and historical implications.   We know the hotspots and where they are located.   For some reason there is connection between the hotspots and areas that are historically represented by a political party. While we would want to believe that this is more accidental than systematic, it is not.

Who in their right minds conducts a drive by shooting on a police station with high-powered assault rifles like what happened on Thursday night at the Besson Street Police station. Uhhmm, terrorists! They might not be as diabolical as ISIS but they are just as deadly. When they attack those responsible for keeping us safe it is evidence that there is a breakdown in the system somewhere but these answers are not easy to find nor are these problems easy to solve.   However, when it is necessary they must feel the full force of the state. Yes there are concerns about the police shootings and rouge police officers but this small minority cannot dominate the narrative nor should they marginalize and negatively alter the perception of the public of police officers and soldiers of Trinidad and Tobago, the majority of whom are decent and hardworking.

The plight of these hotspot communities must be heard but we as a nation, and they as residents must be must be honest to comprehensively deal with it.   There must first be an understanding that the state cannot be threatened nor put under unnecessary pressure to accommodate the criminal element.   The majority of the residents in these communities are law-abiding citizens who live in a space occupied by the criminal element that wants to be in control. The state must not tolerate this and all efforts to squash it must be utilized.

Setting the Record Straight in Brooklyn

IMG_0861.JPG

After a busy and tight schedule at the United Nations, PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar took time on Thursday night to meet with nationals in Brooklyn at the Tropical Paradise Ballroom.   The relatively ad hoc meeting was not part of the PM’s official travel schedule but was planned within a day to give nationals the opportunity to hear from her.   Accompanying the PM was MP Winston Gypsy Peters, the Minister of Community Development.

Also in attendance were Consul General Mrs. Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam (New York), Consul General Dr. Anil Ramnanan (Miami) and Consul General Dr. Vidhya Gyan Tota-Maharaj (Toronto).   Despite inclement weather nationals came out to hear the PM address members of the Trinidad and Tobago Diaspora.

“I am not here to battle with Brooklyn,” the Prime Minister declared as she began her relatively informal speech.   The response came as some concerns were raised by the welcome speaker (representing Sesame Flyers International) about issues relating to crime and healthcare in Trinidad and Tobago.   As Trinbago nationals living in New York, safety is probably our first concern when we visit Trinidad and Tobago.   Our personal safety is important and many Trinbagonians have expressed that they feel safer in New York City than they would in Port of Spain.

Recognizing this, the PM addressed the crime situation and perception of crime that we (the Diaspora) get from our various sources.   She acknowledged how informed members of the Diaspora were and how avidly they consume news content from Trinidad and Tobago, sometimes even more so that residents at home. She stated that while she is not in a battle with the media, she is aware that that “bad news sells more.” According the Prime Minister based on data from Police Headquarters, serious crime in Trinidad and Tobago has decreased 30-40 percent; however the murder rate continues to be high which she still remains a concern.

She stated that her government recruited and trained more than 1000 police officers to enhance the manpower of the 5,000 officers she met in 2010.   Adding that the force of 5,000 never really amounted to 5,000 on duty because of leave and extended leave it was imperative to boost the overall capacity of the police service. She stated, “Criminals will not find a safe haven in Trinidad and Tobago,” and she is prepared to engage in a long-term fight to reduce crime, the government’s number one priority.   Noting the strategic geographic location, Trinidad has become a major a transshipment point for the international drug trade the Prime Minister noted the effect this has on local gang-related crime.     The purchase of fast patrols boats as interceptors will be part of the initiative to combat the drug trade.

The Prime Minister also addressed healthcare in Trinidad and Tobago.   Again, responding in kind to the fact that the good news hardly gets out unlike the bad news the PM shared with nationals about the Children’s Life Fund which to date has helped over 100 children.   Funded by the government, the PM contributes 10 percent of her monthly salary while her MP’s contribute 5 percent. She also highlighted the San Fernando Teaching Hospital as well as plans to build hospitals in Point Fortin and Arima.   Work will also commence on the Port of Spain General hospital.   The Children’s Hospital is currently under construction in Couva, which will include a burn unit given its proximity to the Point Lisas Industrial Estate according to the PM.

“We are planting now for the tree of grow,” she stated, as she spoke about her push for human capital development.   Being mindful of her legacy she believed that her tenure would not be the hallmark of tall buildings but rather on her focus on children, education and human capital. Acknowledging that Trinidad and Tobago is well ahead of the UN Millienium Development Goal of providing universal primary education, the PM stated that no longer 10,000 children are dumped yearly out of the educational system because of universal secondary education, which was implemented when she was Minister of Education.   Furthermore, the government has surpassed its 60 percent mark of those accessing free tertiary education.   Universal pre-K will be accomplished in 2015.

Additionally along the lines of human capital development the PM noted the establishment of the Nursing Academy, the development of training courses for police officers and the creation of technical-vocational training programs inclusive of work force assessments centers where residents can get certified based on their skills.

Prior to attending the town hall meeting the PM visited Conrad’s Bakery, where members of the Trinidad and Tobago & wider Caribbean Diaspora greeted her.   The PM will conclude her week in New York before heading to Miami for three days. She is scheduled to return to Trinidad and Tobago on October 1st.

Playing Pope: Ryan’s Misguided Political Theology

IMG_0858.PNG

The rift that exists between Opposition Leader Dr Rowley and former Prime Minister Patrick Manning was the highlight of an article in Sunday’s Express by Dr Selwyn Ryan. I am not quite sure what the article sought to accomplish but its gives us more space to provide some analysis.

Just in case you did not know the polls as it stands today predicts an almost dead heat with a substantial undecided factor but we will specifically focus on Ryan’s article about Dr Rowley’s unfair characterization in this piece.

These two men (Rowley and Manning) are no Popes; they are politicians.   For a party that subscribes to the idea of leadership supremacy of its captain where historically the concept of succession planning involved the physical death (Eric Williams) or electoral defeat (George Chambers & Manning in 2010) of its political leader Ryan’s article missed its ultimate objective.   It demonized Manning for the actions of Dr Rowley.

Ryan states, “Mr. Manning left a train of abuse which has stained and destroyed Rowley’s political reputation.”   Rowley’s leadership of the Opposition Bench has been a complete failure and total disaster.   He had enough time to wash his political robes and remake his reputation while serving as Opposition Leader but instead he took every opportunity to live up to the words of Manning.   What a curse, but I am not quite sure if it is unfair characterization.

The persistence silence and absence of Mr. Manning since 2010 due his unfortunate illness was a perfect opportunity for Rowley to work on the image. Where is the split in the Catholic Church given that two Popes are alive? In fact, they frequently meet and pray together but Keith and Patrick are no Benedict and Francis and neither are they Bill and Barack after the political blows Obama gave to Hillary in 2008 but she went to on serve in his cabinet as Secretary of State.   The article failed in bridging the existing gap between the two men but yet it calls for an apology of unfair characterization.

On the other hand Ryan describes the Prime Minister’s political personality as manufactured.   The Honorable Prime Minister worked as a teacher and a social worker before she became a lawyer.   These are “helping professions” and now she aptly demonstrates this in her people centered and progressive leadership while creating a new political culture that seeks to elevate the nation for all. No one was left out of the budget is but one example.   Now that is a kick ass politician who takes every advantage of widening her base.

So, she likes people, what is “manufactured” about that; isn’t that a natural consequence of being a human being, a mother, a grandmother or an aunt. This is where this Prime Minister is different because she can identify with regular everyday day people; perhaps even become a family member.   She wants for the nation what she wants for her own children, grandson and her nephews and nieces.   This is her natural personality and one can see it in the policies she champions.

Above all, her humanity is demonstrated and all human beings are prone to error as opposed to the higher than thou attitude within the camps of the PNM. Some statements emanating out of this camp includes: “We represent a certain class of people.   We represent a homogenous group of people,” Is this a better class, a wealthier class, an educated class? We just want to know.     What exactly does this homogeneity represents? We would like to find. This is the core of the politics of exclusion and insensitivity as opposed to the politics of inclusion and sensitivity to the current and future needs of the nation.

Perhaps Ryan himself is playing Pope and seeks to absolve the political sins of Dr. Rowley and in doing so nails former Prime Minister Manning to some proverbial cross as the sacrificial offering. Everyman should account for himself but according to Ryan’s school of political theology, blame the former leader for the present stains of the current one.

So here goes:

For fabricated emails we should believe that Manning is responsible.   We still await knowledge of what we already know.   For calling schoolgirls hyenas, that thought was somehow dropped into Rowley’s head by Manning.   For denying children access to 21st century technologies through the laptop program and referring to children as “duncey heads,” again Mr. Manning was up in Dr Rowley’s head. And this is only the beginning.   For failure to immediately condemn the Calcutta Ship statement before the 2013 THA Election; again we lay that blame at Manning’s feet.   Do you see where we are going here and why Ryan’s article has completely missed the mark?

Should be fast forward to the current hot potato being played with the Las Alturas Tower. Again blame someone else.   Perhaps we should blame Manning too based on Ryan’s postulates.

This is comedy, a tragic one indeed.

But, should we get back to PNM’s historical philosophy as we close they will elect anything wearing a baliser tie including a crapaud.   This is their mentality and one does not have to present in Baliser House to understand how it operates.   It can be seen from a distance. Crucify the former leader to absolve the current leader. This is not adding up; if Eric Williams was the father, Chambers was the son, in Ryan’s article; Manning must be the holy ghost, and Keith Rowley a political born again.

Still no Alternative: Dismal Response to Government’s Budget

The 2015 Budget Debate began in the House of Representatives and went on for several hours well into early Saturday morning and will resume on Monday September 15th.   This yearly exercise is usually a time when a government brings out its MPs and Cabinet Minister to discuss their accomplishments of the ministries and plans for the upcoming fiscal year. It should also be a time when the Opposition present an alternative and prove their viability as the next government.

This year’s budget happens to be the 5th of the People’s Partnership Government, a critical one because it is the final opportunity because they could be very well sitting on the Opposition Benches after the 2015 election budget.   Most notably Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley and the fellow members of the Opposition bench have described as an election budget, a welfare budget, and above all a shameless budget.

Of course we are on a path towards an election, everyday brings us closer but for those who believe that an election will be called before they are constitutionally due, should rethink their strategy or find one. Dr. Keith Rowley had two hours to respond to the budget and within less that five minutes Dr. Roodal Moonilal was able to make Dr. Rowley’s presentation forgettable. We will just have to wait to read the Hansard to remember exactly he said, but nothing he said was new, but even more startling, he did not present himself as an alternative Prime Minister and his team as an alternative government. The performance of the PNM so far during the debate lived up to the expectations because many are aware that the well is empty and dry.

On the flip side the members of the Cabinet and MPs of the government who contributed to the debate were on point and strong in their delivery. While no pun in intended, this government has branded itself as strong on performance and delivery while the PNM has great ideas and talk about them for 40 years. While we will continue to point out errors of the People’s Partnership Government, their past mistakes that they have owned up to claimed and took action on, we recognize the foundation of the past four years and the trajectory for continued development the leadership of the Honorable Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has placed Trinidad and Tobago on.   There is no choice but to support the path of progress for all people especially when no credible alternative in presented.

We need more from the PNM than they stole our ideas.   The fact is governance is more than ideas; it is about delivery, action and above all it is about people.   Perhaps more so it is about the least among us, the vulnerable in our presence and responding adequately the current developmental needs of the country. The concept of “lifting” people is central to the progressive philosophy of people centered governance of this current government. Our human capital is our most valuable asset and the current government has aptly demonstrated its commitment to develop and empower our people.

The themes that grounded and connected the presentations of Cabinet Ministers and government MPs showed cohesiveness and collaboration and while all so far where strong in their respective areas, the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr. Lincoln Douglas must be commended.

Not only did Dr. Douglas make a strong case for the arts and creative industries as a vital sector for economic growth and development but his angle on the nature of our multicultural society was profound. He stated, “we are the happiest people in the world,” and there are many elements in our culture and creative arts that brought the best from the worlds great civilizations to what we know today as our country in the forms of music, art, literature, dance, religion, food and countless more. Dr. Douglas stated that all these are important elements to the development of a society just as important as oil and gas. The weaving of all these elements together is our unique cultural product and the world wants this: happiness.

He further began uncovering some issues that we have been trying to understand and conceptualize both about the history and politics and their respective impact on our development as a people and a nation.   He described Dr. Eric Williams as a “good man but perhaps a bad leader,” known for giving away his salary but unable to break the colonial mindset of the people he led because he himself did not understand the power of culture and the people were not able to capture his ideas and in doing so what we know as the dependency syndrome had its origins in since those initial days of nationhood.   This does not diminish the intelligence or the lasting contributions of Dr. Eric Williams of the man who led us to Independence and served as Prime Minister for twenty-five years.

The contribution of Dr. Douglas scratched more than the surface of our larger interest on political culture.   Good people can be under bad and poor leadership and this is the current case of the PNM. When you analyze political culture and political socialization there must be close examination of the conditioning of the minds of people and questions of why things are structured the way they are and why people do the things they do including voting against their interests will be raised. An understanding of political psychology as well as elements of sociology must be explored to answer these questions.

We look forward to the rest of the debate on 2015 budget and its eventual passage.  We have to have a budget.


IMG_0853.JPG

Sex and Sterilization or Kamla’s War Against Poverty vs. The War Against the Poor

IMG_0850.JPG

This is our first piece on the budget, but we will specifically address the Baby Grant.   What kind of people wage political war against the poor? As we await the budget debate, which begins on Friday the attacks against women, the disproportionally poor in all societies across the globe are attacks against life and humanity itself from a classist elite that stands on the backs of the very poor while they themselves engage in systematic abuse of state resources.

“What so ever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.” Those are not our words; those are the words of Jesus.   This is not about religion neither is it about politics, but $500 measly TTD has a nation in uproar, makes it everything about religion (the framework of our values, despite our beliefs system) and politics (how resources are distributed) and both together our obligation as a nation to use our resources to develop our people.

Before we go further, a short note on waste, mismanagement and corruption.   “I am not where I need to be, but thank God, I am not where I used to be.” Yeah, that cliché.    We need to fix the issue of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago. We need proper procurement legislation, we to stop giving the collective resources of the nation just to “friends and family,” and we need people of merit in all aspects of decisions making. We do not have passing grades in these areas, but for the love of humanity and God, $500 for poor mothers who already living below the poverty line; you deny them the little pittance that if carefully analyzed was a systematic creation linked closely to the historic political development of Trinidad and Tobago.

“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.” Fair enough.   But when the pond has a limited amount of fish, it makes no sense teaching people how to fish because you will end up hungry as well because the fish eventually run out.   Instead you push them in the pond so they drown.

This is a pro-education budget and it has everything to do with poverty eradication. It is not a perfect budget, but it points towards human capital generation and we must continue on this road.   Of course, family planning is important for all people, but children are innocent and for 12 months, $500 TTD is too much because it digs into the pockets of those who have more what ever circumstance and their babies and grandchildren are set for life, but again what kind of people are you?

This is class warfare from a segment of the population who systematically benefits from public resources in a very stratified manner like a pyramid and we can only wonder who is at the top. We cannot continue with such great level of income inequality to achieve developed status.  By no means we are suggesting communism but stop the war against the poor and fight poverty instead. You eradicate poverty through education, hence our strong support and unapologetic stance on this budget. This is a domino waiting topple and Friday is going to be very interesting, very interesting.

The genuine interest for the poor is there by the Prime Minister, but this just a reflection of the humanity of the Honorable Lady.   But make no mistake about it, her politics is centered and built upon on her personal experiences with the people and she has every right to make the plight of the poor political because the research is conclusive about the correlation between education and poverty, and its eradication.

We commend the Honorable Prime Minster for standing up for the rights of women, against the violence and abusive language that marginalizes and further oppress the lower and under classes in our society, the most vulnerable, women and children (and we did not even address with the increases for the elderly and disabled). So, for whatever reason and despite the circumstance of birth that those innocent children by no fault of their own enters the world on the soil of Trinidad and Tobago and the eligibility qualifications are met, let the Baby Grant be given during the first twelve months of life.

So, they want the election to be about sex, I say let them have it.   It is only a matter a time before they start talking about sterilization.

We are not done! But we will stop here for now.

“Yuh see Kamla and that Hindu Government”

IMG_0848.JPG

“Where every creed and race finds an equal place” are beautiful words etched into the memories of every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago because they are found in our national anthem. However, as citizens with various beliefs we do not understand the various religions that some of our fellow citizens ascribe to.   Out of sheer ignorance together with our own religious conditioning these misunderstanding props up in the political arena, and voiced by individuals and in a negative way.

“That Hindu Government,” is sometimes the beginning of criticism by some who are no fans of the People’s Partnership government.   Needless of say, religion and politics perhaps can never be separated but more often than not it is used as a source of division to create discord instead of promoting unity and the universal messages that can be found in almost all of the major religions throughout the world.   The outcome of these conversations leaves us in an uncomfortable space especially in the political arena with overtones of coded messages and outright discrimination.

We cannot claim to be an authority on Christian theology or Hindu “way of life” but we can investigate based on our experiences and willingness to learn to foster understanding that does not shake or alter our personal convictions. The two descriptions “Christian theology” and “Hindu Way of Life” is perhaps the origins of the differences between and continued misunderstandings that promote greater divide between these two religions in Trinidad and Tobago. Having a Christian background, the basic fundamental beliefs of this religion for me are important and they are foundational principles for my own growth and spiritual and development.

While I do not take the Bible “literally” I believe they are sacred scriptures filled with universal principles, wisdom and the teachings of Jesus Christ.   Some aspects of the Bible are the history of a people and its stories have timeless values relevant for all of humanity.   It is through the Christian lens I understand God and perhaps not enough, but because my finite mind cannot comprehend the thoughts of this eternal and infinite being called God, in the space of national life and politics it is absolutely necessary that every creed find an equal place. When Christians think of Hinduism, the first thing that comes to mind is idolatry, the many gods.   This alone is a mental blockage from wanting to understand (not believe) the tenets of Hinduism or Santana Dharma – the Eternal Truth, but I suggest we look beyond, if only for the sake of understanding.

Again, I claim no expertise on any religion but from the little I know from my own experiences and interactions with people of both persuasions, while there are some major differences, there are many things in common, many parallels, than there are differences. Nevertheless, whether on the radio or on social media that we not launch attacks on any faith because they should all be respected equally in national life.

This article took some time to conceptualize after thinking about some of the things I have heard in direct reference and criticism of the current government where many members are Hindu.   Four years ago, I journey more than a thousand miles from New York to Florida to attend the wedding of a friend and colleague. I felt obligated to at least know some basic etiquette required for going into a temple out of respect for my friend and her family.   The pundit did an excellent job explaining the significance of all the rituals that were done during the ceremony. In local parlance, without such explanations, one could have walked away saying “dey tie he.”

After a scanning a few Facebook feeds a few weeks ago, there was a recurring theme attacking Hinduism to downright silliness and pure ignorance violating this premise of equality of all creeds in the common space of political and civic life.   I had to find out more, so I found an audio rendering of the Bhagavad-Gita and began listening to these ancient scriptures.   I then found some video commentary/interpretation on the Gita and spent a few days listening as well as reading articles about Hinduism. I was amazed if not totally taken aback by more of what I found in common and parallel themes than the differences.

The tolerance of Hinduism is perhaps like no other religion in the world, hence their respect for all religions.  It has no dogma, no doctrine and no sole earthly authority.   For lack of a better term it has little to no rules and little if any limitations and there is a focus on spirituality as opposed to religious practice.   There is worship and devotion but do not be surprised if the worship of Jesus is included with the worship of whatever else a practitioner chooses because there is a belief of multiple paths towards the same destination of oneness with God.   In fact, some Hindus regard Jesus a great guru (teacher) or a manifestation of God. Some scholars believe that Jesus himself journeyed to India during the years for which we cannot account for him in the Gospels after the age of 12 and before this start of his public ministry at 30.

Nevertheless, there is a lot we all can learn from each other on the grounded and universal principles of both religions.   While my personal study is still underway here are a few things we can do to foster tolerance of multi faiths in the public space of politics specifically this Christian-Hindu dynamics as they exists in Trinidad and Tobago.

  1. Think beyond doctrine and dogma.   This is often a point of conflict from a Christian perspective and the conversation will go nowhere when engaging a Hindu.
  2. Hindus do not believe in Satan or hell. It is foreign concept to them so damning them to hell just would not work.   They do believe in good and evil based on action.
  3. Many do not consider themselves polytheistic (serving many gods).   They see God manifesting in anything and everything but still believes in his supreme oneness, despite his many attributes. This is has some parallels to Christian belief of God becoming what you want/need him to become and all the attributes we ascribe to him such as life, Light, bread, living waters, healer, provider, creator, destroyer, defender, advocate, teacher, physcian etc.
  4. Meditation is an important practice for some Hindus.   Many meditate by chanting the name of God.   The principle of mediation is found in Christianity, see Psalm 1, where believers are suppose to mediate on the law of the Lord day and night.   In both aspects meditation is a spiritual discipline that has many beneficial rewards for practitioners.
  5. Hinduism is more than a religion to Hindus; it was a way of life, a culture.   This is an concept that is now making inroads in Christianity and until it is firmly established and demonstrated by those who profess the Christian faith based on the tenets of Jesus himself, we would still be Sunday morning Christians, hypocrites nonetheless to those who might like our Christ, but not our Christians as Mahatma Gandhi once stated as he fought off the yoke of British colonialism securing the Independence of modern India.

We must continue to ensure that religious freedom or even freedom from religion is respected and preserved in the public space of national life.