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Rev Teelucksingh: Watch stepfathers
Keep a close watch of stepfathers. This is the warning from Rev Daniel Teelucksingh, pastor in charge of the St Charles Presbyterian Church in Chaguanas, in light of the abuse and murder of young children. Teelucksingh was discussing the cruel fate of some of the nation’s youngsters in the context of the Christmas message, which centers around the birth of the Christ child.
The 72-year-old former Independent senator and moderator of the Presbyterian church in T&T argues that the country is crying out for a national, unified stand against the criminal elements.
Q: Rev Teelucksingh, Christmas is also essentially about the Christ child, why should we be celebrating Christmas with all these heinous crimes including murder, which is being committed against our youngsters?
A: (In the office of his rectory at the St Charles Presbyterian Church, Caroni Savannah Road, Chaguanas, Thursday afternoon) Here is the central message of Christmas: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a saviour who is Christ the Lord.” That was 2,000 years ago. Now we are asking ourselves about crime and violence in T&T at Christmas, 2013, but crime and violence was common in the time of Jesus.
Are you suggesting Rev, that the message of Christmas has been lost on us throughout the ages coming down?
(Stridently) It cannot be lost. The point I am making is that Jesus was born in an age of cruelty perpetuated particularly by the Roman government, and the Romans loved to call other people and cultures barbaric and so on. But the cross is a symbol of barbarism, crudely...and the violence of the age in which Jesus lived.
The crime and violence of the first Christmas, yet the message was given by the angels, “I bring to you glad tidings of great joy.” No crime and no amount of great violence has undermined that message of peace and goodwill to all men.
In spite of this avalanche of violence, the church has shown its resilience in propagating this message?
Not only the church, the message by itself remains pure: “Do not be afraid...the glad tidings I bear,” and there was much for those people to be afraid of in those days, and there is as much we are afraid of today. Don’t matter how hopeless it might appear, a saviour has come which is Christ the lord, which means God is with us.
Despite its inevitability death is a painful experience, more so when a life is lost through violent means. How do you explain that to bereaved relatives?
We have to be realistic and talk about the way we govern ourselves. God is not going to come here and form a government for us and tell us about laws, whether you should be sober when you’re driving; you got to be caring, you got to love your neighbour. He has given mankind a free will, and He wants us to organise in government and organise in society and community.
Rev, I am sure you must have heard it said many times, why did God allow children to be brutalised even to the point of death when somewhere in the bible it says suffer the children to come unto me?
(Sipping from a small bottle of chilled water) I don’t think that God allows... I really believe that He has created us, has given to us the intellect, wisdom...and looks at the achievements over the centuries and how far we have come.
We are solely to blame for the crime and violence against adults and especially against our innocent children. Look at our murders. Wasn’t it on yesterday’s paper which said we are nearing the 400 mark for homicides in 2013?
(Voiced raised and adamantly stressing) Now God is not responsible for that! We are responsible for the way that we manage our affairs and the way we form our governments. The brutal murders have exceeded last year’s total. Something has to be wrong with us!
We have to listen to our heavenly father, but we (arms outstretched in bewilderment) are the ones who have turned away and are not listening to Him.
Don’t we pray to the almighty to protect us from evil and so on?
He has been doing it, but we have...man has been so evil that we can tell God no...We want to do our business and boy have we been doing it. (A cynical glance at the ceiling) I am blaming the human mind and the human choice for the runaway crime we have in Trinidad. Clevon, your very first question relates to crime in the country, and I am happy you are staying on this topic as the whole country is staying on this question of violence, crime, sexual exploitation, and abuse and so on of children.
Rev, from your vantage point, because I know as a man of the cloth you should be concerned more than the average citizen about that terrible fate some of our children are facing these days, have you been able to come up with a specific cause of this terrible scourge on us as a people?
Yes Clevon, family life in T&T is in a bad state, especially marriage, and I have been looking at some of these child molestation cases, the abuse of children, the brutal murders of children...and whether you and I feel offended, a lot of people are going to feel offended about what I have to say but…
Go right ahead Rev, let’s hear it, no matter who it hurts.
Clevon, I know there are rare, good stepfathers, but let me tell you something, and let us sit down and look at the statistics carefully, you would see how many of these children suffered at the hands of their stepfathers. You know why? That is not his child. Now we do have good stepfathers, but we have to watch this very carefully, a child is in the care of a stranger that is not his or her father.
Are we in a rather macabre way having our own story of Herod?
Of course! (In a burst of semi religious fervor) Herod the king, he killed the children, all the babies under the age of two years. And the same thing is happening today…we have our Herods. They are molesting children, they’re persecuting children, they are murdering children, and we have that today in our country. God is responsible for that?
What about the Children’s Authority Act?
Somebody recently said it is taking so long to effectively operate the Children’s Authority for one reason or the other. But tell me, do you really think we should expect God to come down and proclaim, and more importantly enforce this legislation?
You don’t think God couldn’t influence the authorities to move faster for the sake of the at-risk children?
That’s my point, Clevon. He has not made us robots. He has given to us a mind to think, has given to us choices. This free will is very important, because if we did not get it, you and I would be just like all the toys they are selling us for Christmas. If God wanted to come and implement the Children’s Authority, He would come here and chain all of us to think in a particular way, and then He could have destroyed the most beautiful thing he has made, which is to give us the freedom to choose.
To kill and maim each other?
(Quickly responding) No. He never said it like that; He said thou shall not kill, and I agree with you zeroing on children at this Christmas time. You know what Jesus said? “If anyone of you should cause any of these little ones to stumble, it were better that a millstone be placed around your neck and placed not in the sea, but in the deepest part of the ocean.” Not in Black Rock in San Fernando.
Rev, we keep hearing from successive governments that they are fighting the crime scourge and violence in the society, but nothing seems to be working for us. What’s your take on this score?
(Another calming sip from the bottled water) We don’t have the political will and courage as a nation to deal with the crime and violence, and this is why over the last decade they have failed, toute bagai (everyone). You know why? “I have my own crime plan and yours is not good. Wait until I get in power and my crime plan will be implemented. “I am not going to support your crime plan because you are the Government and my job in the Opposition is not to make you look good.
“I know in my conscience and my mind that crime plan or our crime plan put together is good for T&T, but to France with that. “We not going to do that. I going to be in power, and I will show how my plan will work” (slapping his palms in disgust).
All our leaders must come together?
And really, the man in the street doesn’t care about which party is in power, you know. When I speak about leaders, I talk about governance, and the grassroots don’t care who govern, we want to make sure you govern the country properly.
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