Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eid-Ul-Fitr Blessings To The Muslim Community

The celebration of Eid is a fitting time to reflect on the positive impact that the Muslim community has made in the world.Eid-ul-Fitr is a Muslim festival that comes at the end of Ramadan, which is a holy month of fasting. Eid is due to be celebrated tomorow.I am delighted to send my sincere and warmest wishes to Muslims all across the country - everyone who is celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr.Now this is a special time for the Muslim community as it marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan. During this month of fasting, Muslims remember those who cannot take their next meal for granted, and we reflect on our society's shared obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves.Particularly during Ramadan, Muslims are also encouraged to spend time with their families, be kind to others and give regularly to charity. These are all important values that every person in this country should share, irrespective of faith.We have a long and proud tradition in Trinidad and Tobago of welcoming people from all religions, races and backgrounds. Our Muslim communities have had a hugely positive impact in this country over the years. The celebration of Eid is a fitting time to reflect therefore on the impact that Muslims have had on Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed the rest of the world. From philosophy and Islamic arts through to science and business, that influence is at the heart of our strongest communities, it is distinctive, and it is positive.On this note I extend my very best wishes to Muslims across the world, particularly to their friends and families in Trinidad and Tobago, for a happy and joyous Eid. Eid Mubarak to everyone.

ROSH HASHANAH GREETINGS. TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

I am pleased to send warm greetings to the Jewish community in this country, and other nations around the world as you observe Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a New Year within the Jewish community, and it is a time for personal reflection. As you prepare for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, may this solemn period bring forth a deeper devotion to your faith's noble ideals. During this time of renewal and recovery.

HOW TO SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE AND EVERYONE ELSE’S IN A “FLASH.”

Last two weeks ago a Facebook friend of mine almost got run of the road by a crazy driver. It’s Trinidad, nothing new.Oh but what he did next was ingenious and super cool! He whipped out his camera phone, took a picture of the crazy driver car with the number plate in full view. And then, he posted the picture on Facebook. What a hero! In an instant tons of people were commenting – I’m sure a lot of people knew the crazy person was too. And more than likely this person now knows that he/she is plastered all over Facebook. For shame!As I mentioned to a colleague of mine, I truly believe that other than domestic violence issues, many missing girls and women I feel are in such a state because of the sort of ad hoc transportation system that many face – there are so many unregistered maxi-taxis and taxis out there with so many predators taking advantage of this disorganized gap and over-demand for transport.We were discussing possible ways of fixing this disorganization – many long term options are available and some are in the process of implementation but what can be done NOW! NOW! NOW!There is a solution and you literally hold it in your hands my ladies and gentlemen, my boys and girls. It’s called a cell phone. CELL PHONE, CELL PHONE CELL PHONE! Almost everyone has a cell phone, even if it is only a cell phone that can send text messages. But, most people these days do have cameras in their phone.So listen…use it! People, if it is late and you’re getting into a maxi or taxi you don’t trust, take a picture of it, the driver and especially if you could the license plate. Do it discreetly, from in your purse or pocket. If you are in a car and you feel weird – don’t wait for the feeling to pass, text someone discreetly and quietly as much info as you can about the car, the surrounding places you see – ANYTHING! And send it to at least one person – parents or friends. At least that way we’d have a start if we have to set out to look for you!And it doesn’t have to be a car situation. Someone you know or do not know is seriously harassing you on the street? Get away quickly and safely first, but if you could, text or take a picture of the person and send it to at least one trusted person. And then if you feel safe enough to do it, anonymously BROADCAST it! Send anonymous pictures to the newspapers – who knows, it may save a life!In 2008 I did this for a man in lower Cascade (86 Cascade Rd, Port of Spain, people, for extra shame on this man), who was beating and starving his tied dog to the point of death. I went to the police (funny right?) – of course nothing doing. I whipped out my camera, zoomed in, took pictures, printed them with a message that I was going to share them with the News, and stuck them all over his front gate so people could see. The next week he gave away the dog.Now I’m NOT telling you to get camera happy like that. This is about giving yourself a chance to save your own life if you feel that you are in danger! Make sure first and foremost that you are always discreet and safe when you take these pictures or texts and make sure to send them to someone who will 1. Get them immediately and 2. Know what to do – call the right authorities, persons etc. Nor am I saying that you suddenly shame every Tom, Dick and Harry who is happily minding his/her own business. Please this is a life saving technique, not “Jerry Springer.”It’s not hard. It’s ridiculously easy to do – practice it with a friend or family member; it will actually be fun to do.And ladies, girls and boys out there, as an aside, there are many extra curricular defense classes out there, some of them are very affordable – please, join a defense class. While attending university they had a free weekend defense class open to the public and I attended – and let me tell you after it was finished I saw a 12 year old girl topple and safely run from two 6 feet robust men – knowing the right techniques.LEADERS who are reading this, it would be good to start a self-defense drive in schools and community clubs for ladies and girls in particular. Now.We don’t need guns and we don’t need to stay inside scared. We need to know the proper and effective tactics to defend ourselves and to make sure these attackers are exposed.And this is not only for Trinidad this is for every citizen of every country who reads this in Facebook and wherever this note ends up. (If you can read this and translate it into another language, please do and pass it on).I care about you! I care about us. Let’s do this.Use your cell phone to save your own life, and share the word and the picture with at least one trusted person. Become your own life saving journalist! Be the paparazzi to these predators. Empower yourself with this media tool you already have.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

THE SIDE EFFECTS OF POVERTY.

Poverty is the deficiency or lack of resources needed to survive and live comfortably. Everywhere in the world we see a lot of families suffering from this condition. They experience scarcity of food, clothing, shelter, and other things essential in order to exist. Poverty does not only affect the people struck by it, but also the society they are living in. This is a serious problem that each government has to look deeper into if they want to improve the overall well-being of their people and help in the progression of their country.The personal effects of poverty can be debilitating for people. This affects the physical, mental, social, and psychological condition of an individual. The most obvious hardship these people experience is the insufficient supply of necessary things that we need day-to-day in order to live. Getting food to put on their tables and clothes to protect them can be a real challenge. Starvation is the first and foremost effect of poverty, which can lead to malnutrition. This situation makes people more susceptible to contracting diseases and spreading them. Their overall resistance to illnesses lowers when their body does not have the sufficient vitamins and minerals to stay strong and repel viruses. When they get sick, they don't have the assets to go to the hospital and buy the needed medicines to recover. The mental state and health of people can also be affected when they are always hungry. Delusions and hallucinations can be experienced by malnourished people. When not prevented, this may eventually lead to more serious mental illnesses.Individuals who are denied of the riches that other people have can also have an effect on their self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth. They feel that they are worthless and no longer have a bright future, hence the tendency to lose hope and just give up. It affects their peace of mind since they are constantly worrying how to survive yet another day. Their dignities are also bruised and can eventually affect their perception of the world in whole. Impoverished people can actually feel hatred in the world they live in since they think it is unfair that some people can live abundantly and not them.Without enough resources, people also become illiterate. They cannot afford to go to school and learn. People living in really poor countries cannot even read and write, and this can limit their options in life. Without the proper knowledge, they won't be able to find a good job to improve their standardof living, and they will be forever stuck in the condition they are in. Opportunities to prosper will not be available.Other than the effects of poverty on oneself, there is also the effect on the society they live in. Everywhere we go, we see people living on the streets and sleeping on the pavements. They do not have permanent homes or shelters and just squat on empty lots or spaces. This view can be bad for tourism since it is unsightly to look at. Sometimes these people even relieve themselves on the streets making it so unhygienic not just for themselves but also on the people who lives around the area or passes the location. This scenario definitely won't invite tourists and in turn can affect the income of the country.Poverty also makes the affected people be a burden to the government since they are depended on whatever help it can give them. The budget of the government intended for other things needed to run a country can be hugely divided when there are more people to support in terms of health care, housing, or welfare. A country will not prosper well when many of its constituents are on the poverty line. When most of its people are poor with no means to education, a country's economy can easily decline. Skills, knowledge, and competency will not be available for the next generation to run the country in the future. Illiteracy will also result to unproductivity since people cannot work. They are not contributing to the society since they don't pay taxes and help in bringing more income to the country.Crime and delinquency will also increase with poverty. Individuals will do anything to live and survive, and when their means are limited, it is easy for them to break the law. People will be forced to steal, snatch, and rob just to have money to provide for their essential needs. Increase in prostitution and illegal businesses are also results of poverty. People turn to anything even if it is against their personal values just to get by. It is no longer a choice for them whether an act is right or wrong, their only purpose is to stay alive.Poverty is present everywhere and it can afflict anyone. When resources are limited, the distribution of assets and wealth will never be equal, hence, leaving some people with lesser money and some with more. This is a global problem that affects everybody, no matter what your status in the society. What we have to contemplate now is how we will be able to help and make a difference in our little ways.

CAN YOU HELP????- FROM A STUDENT AT A SCHOOL

Students are not being heard...... this is the 2nd time (for this week) Chaguanas North Secondary School has been evacuated.... there is a problem of African Killer Bees, no Electricity, and not enough properly ventilated classrooms for the students........ how are we supposed to be get an education when we're always being sent home...... it is absolute nonsense for A Level students to have to walk around a school looking and begging for classrooms....... have you ever heard about having classes under the trees??? well thats what happens here...... Who is listening??? who is going to help???? The Government is looking for "Developed Nation Status" by the year 2020...... is that when we will see a Change??!!!we've been trying to get help.... we even resorted to calling news rooms around the country. do you know what they said??? they said we are wasting their time..... Something needs to be done about the situation....... its the second time teachers have walked out...... CAN YOU PLEASE HELP???

Monday, September 14, 2009

TRUE NATIONAL UNITY IS WHAT IS NEEDED

Possibly no body of men comes in closer touch with the people of this country than the elected officials, theircontact reaches out to men of every locality and of every station in life. What can be then of greater importance than that these representatives should thoroughly understand the underlying principles of our national life and appreciate what is needed to promote the nation's best wel- fare? These principles may be elementary and even self-evi- dent, but how often do we forget the importance of simple truths in the maze of sophistry which is spread out to ensnare us by wily vendors of false panaceas for the cure of all na- tional ills. The heat of the recent election is past. The nation has recorded its decision. Therefore, we may now as loyal citizens dispassionately discuss, in terms of perfect frankness, present national tendencies and problems, without running any risk of being misunderstood or misinterpreted. Every man of serious mind and every student of the world's progress must realize that there are disquieting ele- ments in the present situation and that to guide our nation in attaining and retaining its proper position in the world, we need now as never before far-sighted wisdom and clear judg- ment. We should work together as citizens of this countryfor the good of the whole body politicaly, united for mutual aid in the furtherance of the common good; a bondformed to overcome the centrifugal and disintegrating forces of self-interest and to promote unity and co-ordination. The bonds which hold us together at times seem to tighten and again to relax but harmony is the basis of our national system. Classes are unknown in the land. That is our boast, but the fact is that, in the growth of national unity one of the worst obstacles is the existence of classes, or groups, if that word is preferred, and the disputes between them. The very rich and very poor, the educated and uneducated, the employers and employed, these are some of the classes which exist and always will exist. These distinctions are necessary in our complex life, but the aim of this country's democracy is that there shall be nothing in our system which makes it impossible for any individual to move freely from one class to another. We aim to prevent, as far as possible, individual retrogression and to place personal advancement within the reach of every- one on a basis of individual merit and accomplishment. In this sense "classes" rigidly and permanently established do not exist. Every day we hear of men who, by reason of individual worth, have risen in the social scale and we also hear of others who have fallen to a lower estate. The Trinidad and Tobago idea is that this movement of the individual from one class to another shall be absolutely unrestricted. That is what is meant by "free- dom" and "equality. Any statute of this country and any reg- ulation of any "class organization which hampers the in- dividual in the exercise of thrift, industry and persistency or compels him to curtail his hours of labor or lose his personal freedom to work, may be good for the class as a whole, but is Trinbagonian and acts as a brake upon individual freedom. It is equally improper, in the absence of a voluntary contract arrangement, to compel the individual to work against his will. This general subject has been so prominently before us of late that a rehearsal of recent events is not necessary, but if we analyze carefully these conflicts between the various "classes" we find that the fundamental cause of difference is that the interest of the "class" is placed ahead of everything else, and individual freedom and the common welfare are sub- ordinated. If, in these conflicts, the old-fashioned ideas of our forefathers (the ideas of individual freedom, of mutual con- cession and of united effort for the nation's welfare) could be substituted for the modern tendency toward placing the "class" above the nation, great progress would be made out of our difficulties.Organizations we should not discourage, but every class leader should recog- nize that the body that he represents is, and must be, sub- ordinate to the greatest of all organizations, the "nation." We must have union and harmony between these groups. This can only be obtained if paramount to all class interests we keep ever before us the true Trinbagoanian ideal, the achievement of the greatest good for all. Another factor inimical to national unity is the clash of local interests. In a country covering such diversity of people, the interests of its various sections are naturally diverse. Rivalry and competition betwesn these sections are unavoidable, but when local pride and local selfish interest overshadow national pride and national interest then national unity is in peril. Our method of electing representatives from the various sections of the country should also have the provision that those represen- tatives be residents of the place in which they are elected. For a representive, to be re- elected, he/she must satisfy their local constituents. Different sections of the country to understand each other. The view of the farmer from the South and the banker from the East, or the manufacturer from central and of the importer north is in each case naturally based primarily upon his own salfish requirements, especially when the question of taxation or some other matter affecting his local interest comes up for consideration in Parliament,and the unscrupulous politician has naturally done all he can to encourage a sentiment of sectional rivalry and jeal- ousy. The East has only a superficial knowledge of the ideas of the West and South, and these latter localities, except in the most general way, are not informed as to the methods and ideas which prevail in the financial centres of the East. In the consideration of any broad national policy, we see these sec- tions arrayed, each against the other, on strictly geographical lines. If a tax is to be imposed, each tries to throw the bur- den upon the other. If a national improvement is to be made, each demands that his section shall have the lion's share. For this Governments', enthusiasm cannot be aroused unless local ad- vantages can be shown. We have to study the debates and votes on the legislation, on national disaster preparedness, on national infrastructure improvements, on the income tax, onthe health issue, on education, on the immigration question, on foreign relations, on transportation regulation, to see that the above exhibition of self-interest is so universal that it hardly needs to be stated. Is it to be wondered that we often feel that in consequence our national unity is in danger? It is a very simple matter to state conditions which we know exist; it is a very important matter to offer a proper solution. The contest between the various classes and the rivalry be- tween the various sections to which we have referred is exactly similar to the old dispute between the members of the body, as described by Paul in the Bible. The head, the foot, the hand, the eye and the ear entered into the same struggle under motives of self-interest which we see existing between the different political entities in or society, and the situa- tion cannot be more tersely summed up than in the statement in the same biblical quotation that "whether one member suffer, all the mem- bers suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. There can be no segregation even in thought of the various groups without a serious loss to the whole body, and there must be closer mutual acquaintance and knowledge and a finer spirit of concession between these warring factors, if we are to maintain the deli- cate equilibrium of our country. Possibly one great difficulty in bringing about such a basis of unity is that, under our government, the ordinary citizen is not made to feel in the slightest degree that he owes anything to his country. He does not be made to feel that he contributes in any way. In short, he feels himself left out of the nations' favors and protection. In consequence of this, as is apt to be the case, he has no enthusiasm,he feels no sense of obligation and little sense of loyalty. When a crisis arise, it has always been found, up to the present time, that the nation is full of loyalty and full of patriotism. The sentiment is there but cannot express itsslf properly and effectively be- cause it has no instruments with which to work. Often this or that remedy is suggested to correct the evils of which we are speaking, but these remedies most frequently apply only to some specific trouble. We must look to the basic principles if we wish to carry out the real promise of our founding fathers. No nation can be a mere collection of persons born or living within certain geographical limits. A great na- tion must be a social unit, moved consciously or unconsciously by common motives and by an instinctive loyalty to common ideals. Nationality is both a spiritual and a physical fact.We associate the words spirituality and soul with purely religious discussions, but it is no exaggeration, nor is it an impractical suggestion, to state that the only basis of true national unity must be a unified national soul. An example beyond parallel has been offered in not to distant Euro- pean War, where we have found a nation, often misunderstood by Anglo-Saxons, pre-eminent in its intellectuality, mercurial in its temperament, solidified under the present pressure to a nation with a single soul. Nothing else can explain the cour- age, the persistency, the cheerfulness and the patience of the French nation under suffering. It is something of this sort which this nation must cultivate and possess if we are to have real national unity. Materialism runs rife in a young and prosperous nation and our isolation from the present conflict that is taking place in this countryhas increased that tendency. It is well for us, in our serious moments, to keep ever before us the higher philosophy, the higher ideal, for "what shall it profit a man," or a nation, "if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" May God bless all of us and the wonderful Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.