Kamla Persad-Bissessar – Lincoln Holder
OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Trinidad and Tobago are not immune to the violence affecting other parts of the world.
She also said TT must become a beacon of tolerance in current circumstances, respecting all people regardless of their religion or ethnicity.
Persad-Bissessar made those statements in her Divali message to the nation.
She said, “As we celebrate this year’s Divali holiday, let us also remember that currently, across the globe, millions of people are at war and conflict due to their religious and ethnic differences.
“Indeed, according to the Geneva Academy’s research, in 2023, there are 114 armed conflicts, including some international wars, taking place in our world.”
Those include places like Israel, Palestine, Russia, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Within this scenario, Persad-Bissessar said TT shone as a beacon for global tolerance.
“We must never forego our responsibility to our nation’s children and our future generations to ensure that we continue in this unique, blessed, and inspirational stead.”
TT, she continued, is not immune from this global trend of violence and brutality.
“We are currently living in a period of unprecedented runaway crime and violence which has thrown us into a desolate state of fear and persecution for the past few years.”
She added that crime and economic challenges had “resulted in a vast majority of our citizens being forced to cope daily with an avalanche of negative emotions: shock, pain, contempt, anger, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness.”
Persad-Bissessar said citizens must find ways to stay mentally healthy and spiritually whole in these challenging times.
She appealed to the population not to allow themselves to become “embittered, hate-filled, overly suspicious, and desensitised.”
Persad-Bissessar said she had personally coped with with such trying times “by seeking hope, comfort, and guidance in God’s teachings across all religious divides.”
She added, “I have often found inspiration in the meaning of Divali.”
Persad-Bissessar described Divali as “a morality story of Lord Rama’s defeat of the evil demon king Rawan, who had terrorised nations for decades before his defeat.”
This year, she continued, Divali has special significance for TT.
“For, at this very trying time of our nation’s existence, it reminds us that our citizens should be more than ever, inspired to persevere in togetherness and faith.”
She reiterated that citizens must continue to be exemplars of tolerance and acceptance at all times.
Persad-Bissessar said one way this can be done is by “giving equal importance to all national holidays, regardless of their religious origins.”