Even the cynics among us, and I am one of those, must admit that such a crusade has a better chance of succeeding, or at least “happening” in Trinidad than in most other places.
It is to our credit that a call to pray for a common cause will be accepted by Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Spiritual Baptists and others. But even with this “Blessing” that we live together with our religious disparities, moreso than with our ethnic differences these days, we still find those who seek to drive wedges between our religious tolerances and unity.
One “AG”, writing in Newsday’s Chat Room last Tuesday had this to say: “Trinidad must bring back the highest and best protection they had. It was the Trinity Cross and that was Trinidad’s protection.” Well, so much for the other Deities! However, many people seemed to think that if we all just prayed, we would be less preyed upon by bandits and gangsters.
The Trinity Cross did not protect us when it was in place, over 500 murders occurring in its heyday. However let us try anything, from prayers to obeah and see if the bandits, litterers and fraudsters will hearken, and change their dreadful ways. But I say unto you, just to be sure we continue to work against crime, and not leave it all to the Deities: “Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition”.
With my mild Christian upbringing, I learned a little about prayers being answered and not being answered. I am less familiar with other religions’ entreaties. I learned about the “Miracles” performed by Jesus Christ in His time. He turned water into wine to “save” the wedding fete, He fed the multitude with a couple of loaves and fishes, and still had food remaining, He walked out across the water to the fearful Disciples’ boat, and He raised a dead man back to life. But my favourite (after creating the wine of course!) was when He told an apparently crippled man to “take up thy bed and walk”, for that is my theme here today.
Did Jesus “heal” a crippled person, or did He simply recognize a malingerer who needed a “bouffe”? The man, chastised or healed, got up from the roadside and walked away. What I want to suggest to all of us is that no Deity is going to stop crime for us. Not when we all are quite content to tolerate, support and commit crimes of every sort—against our neighbours, against our Gods, and against our land. We cannot ascribe all of our failings, wrongs and activities to our Gods, and hope that by spending a week of hypocritical prayer that corrections will occur. We have to take up our beds and walk!
We must not commit crimes, we must not litter, we must not steal, we must not waste, we must not cheat, we must not kill, we must not bear false witness (media!), and we must not be complicit in any of these crimes and sins by failing to stop them, by failing to report them or by pretending that we did not see or hear of them. In short, we need to “Help God”.
There is a story of a man who was struck by financial misfortunes not of his own making. As things got worse he began to pray to win the Lotto. Each week he prayed, but his prayers were not answered. When they foreclosed on his home he wept bitterly and called again to God: “Oh why have you not helped me Lord? I have called upon you to help me win the Lotto, and you have not answered my prayer”. A voice like thunder rolled around the weeping man: “Help Me to help you, My son! You have to buy a ticket in the Lotto!”
You cannot leave it to your Gods, folks. You have to work at it while you pray. In 2005, just before an Ash Wednesday World Cup Qualifier in the Oval, a reporter asked our football coach if he had studied videos of our opponents—the United States—playing. Our coach replied that was no need for that because “the Lord already knows what the result will be”! And no one questioned that logic (naturally, we lost the match).
Pray if you must, but pray to have the courage to fight the crime. Praise the Lord, but pass the ammunition. And buy your damned Lottery Ticket!