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The need to put country first
While watching the US presidential inauguration yesterday, I felt a deep sense of sadness when I compared, somewhat unfairly I suppose, what was on witness in Washington DC with what is happening in T&T. Not so much that it presented perfection or the ideal, by no stretch of the imagination would I suggest that. It was more about the idea of what being patriotic could mean. It may have been staged managed but one could sense the deep seated determination regardless of differences to put country before anything else.
That president Barack Obama was been inaugurated on Martin Luther King Day carried with it a symbolism that went far deeper than just an issue of colour and race but more to do with the evolution of a society and a nation.
Not to say that America is a nation that has gone beyond issues of racism or inequality, it has not. But the truth is that it has come a long way. It has made progress.
When I contrast with what was playing out here in T&T, I wondered if there is a saving grace. Is it that we have to suffer through these bloody times so that we can emerge from the carnage a nation and a society clear headed in understanding what we value and don’t value, what we stand for and don’t stand for?
Regardless of their ugly side, what can’t be said of America is that they are unpatriotic or lack a sense of what is nationhood.
President Barack Obama told his fellow citizens “We reject that Americans must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. The commitments we make to each other, through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
He further went on to make the point that each time America gathered to inaugurate a president, it affirmed that what binds the nation together is not the colours of their skin or the tenets of their faith or the origins of their names. “What makes us exceptional, what makes us American, is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
“For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.”
I make no apologies for quoting liberally form President Barack Obama’s inauguration address. I would recommend that all our leaders regardless of organisation or entity make an extra effort to get their hands on a copy of it and read it.
There are some profound messages in his speech and it would serve all of T&T well if those in charge read and ponder upon his words. If what is happening in T&T is the inevitable price of progress, I am sorry but the price is too high.
The challenge is to progress while protecting our values and respect our traditions and history.
If there are people who believe that sport need not be negatively impacted by what is happening in our society then good for you. As for me, sport is a vital piece of T&T’s daily life and if our society is falling apart then sport can’t help but fall apart.
Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee http// http://www.ttoc.org/. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.
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