Country before party, judge urges election candidates

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Frank Seepersad – Marvin Hamilton

LAY preacher Justice Frank Seepersad took to the pulpit on Sunday morning to pray for the over 400 individuals seeking political office in the local government elections, urging them to put the country before partisan interests.

He also called on the politicians to tone down their messages of hate which is influencing followers and causing TT to stray further from the paradise it once was.

“There is a need to facilitate healing in this land,” he said in a sermon at the Marabella Presbyterian Church.

Pointing out that a lack of good shepherding on the part of parents, guardians and leaders has led to a dysfunctional society where the consequence is crippling crime, and a limited sense of citizenship, community or social responsibility, Seepersad called on the political hopefuls to be the change they want to see.

“Challenge the status quo, put country before partisan interest and be agents of selfless service. Dare to be different, become good shepherds and strive to be transformational leaders for all those over whom you exercise jurisdiction.”

He appealed to those who desire the opportunity to serve the country to act with honesty and integrity.

“Focus upon the formulation and implementation of equitable and purpose-driven policies designed to empower and emancipate citizens from the shackles of poverty and hopelessness.

“The time to concentrate upon good shepherding is now,” he said, as he observed that family life in TT has deteriorated.

“School children are fighting each other in and outside the classrooms. The number of young people who are engaged in criminal activity is frightening.

“As we look around our society, the question which has to be asked is, Where are our good shepherds?

“So much hatred, discord, duplicity and divisiveness emanates from the confines of our homes, via social media and from those in authority. These forms of behaviour set an inappropriate and regressive tone.

“They invoke destructive responses as the flock often responds to the directives, instruction and messaging conveyed by those who shepherd them.

“What messages are being sent to us? Are we supposed to decimate, disregard and destroy those whose views oppose ours? Are we required to distrust and dislike those who are different?” he asked.

He advanced, “The tone and messaging of our leaders and persons who hold positions of authority have to be adjusted. Words of vitriol and venom must be replaced by calls for unity, togetherness, tolerance and collective responsibility.

“There is a need to facilitate healing in this land. We are battered and bruised and we must redeem ourselves and alter our current course.”

Stating that many of the truant young men simply need to be told that they are loved and that their lives matter, he urged good shepherds to reach out to them before it’s too late, and not turn a blind eye which facilitates criminal enterprise.

He said as a society and as a matter of urgency, clear and decisive parenting policy must be formulated to salvage the next generation.

He said this objective will only be achieved with commitment at every level to becoming good shepherds.

“This ‘shepherding revolution’ must start from within our homes, our religious places and within the corridors of power.

“Self-introspection is required as we all review our language, our value systems, our messaging and our behaviour so as to ensure that we become the best examples of faith, forthrightness, fearlessness, fortitude and familial love that we can possibly be.”