Today, Palm Sunday, Christians around the world commemorate Jesus Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem before his arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. Usually, there would be re-enactments of this biblical event, with the faithful taking part in processions, waving palms in joyful remembrance of how Christ was welcomed and celebrated on that day more than 2,000 years ago.
But this Palm Sunday is different as it takes place in a season of social distancing that leaves most confined to their homes and only able to participate in church services broadcast on television and radio, or streamed online.
COVID-19 has transformed the world in ways that could not be fathomed just a few months ago as efforts to control its spread have resulted in sharp departures from how things are usually done.
The final days of Lent leading into the Easter season are overshadowed in most of the world by lockdowns and stay-at-home restrictions which limit physical movement and social interactions.
Sadly, these limitations have brought out the best and worst in us. Over the past few days, many Good Samaritans have been extending help to fellow citizens who have been badly affected by pandemic conditions in the country. By looking out for others and being their brothers' keepers they have strengthened the capacity of many to ride out these difficult times.
Their charitable gestures stand in contrast to the reckless and inconsiderate behaviours of a few who have put their fellow citizens at risk by flouting rules and laws put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 in this country.
Then there are the misguided few in Brooklyn Settlement who, acting out of fear and ignorance, staged a protest on Friday night over plans to set up a quarantine facility in their community. Their actions were apparently endorsed by an elected representative in the district with a comment that Sangre Grande should not be allowed to become "a holding bay for any coronavirus COVID-19 patients."
It was a display of intolerance that only serves to hamper the herculean efforts of the people on the front lines of the pandemic.
Sangre Grande and every community in this country will benefit if there is support for the public health measures being put in place for the care of COVID-19 patients. The facilities established in Brooklyn Settlement are in locations with enough surrounding acreage to serve as buffers. They will house convalescing patients who no longer need to be in a hospital setting and there is no risk of spread of the virus.
In fact, the only risk of contagion is from those who are intent on spreading stigma and discrimination. If this is allowed to get out of hand it will give the advantage to the common enemy we all face--COVID-19.
In the spirit of Palm Sunday, let us stand strong in the values that will take us through this crisis.