insensitivity is not an attribute of which to be proud, more
so in a land of many peoples in which tolerance
is a watchword/motto.
There can be no argument that the naming of the highest award
of the land as the Trinity Cross constitutes cultural insensitivity
of the highest order. So why the huge resistance to rectify
this historical mistake?
Justice Peter Jamadar, in a well-researched and written judgment,
has confirmed the arguments of those seeking a religious neutral
name and has now given a legal basis for the struggle.
It is indeed more than passing strange that in a secular country,
legal battles would have to be fought to separate church and
One is further befuddled and saddened when the Attorney General
of T&T, one of the most diverse countries in the world,
would claim victory in a court case that results in the preserving
of this cultural inequity. One could not be faulted for thinking
that he should be leading the charge to have the name changed.
The Government is urged to make this long needed and awaited
change. The fact that previous governments did not effect
it is a reflection of their unwillingness to exorcise this
historical lagahoo. The ghost of the past should not be allowed
to unduly influence the present.
Recognition for services rendered to country should be an
occasion for joy and merriment. For citizens professing to
the Hindu and Muslim faiths, who constitute nearly one-third
the population, acceptance would pose a serious and traumatic
This is an untenable state of affairs, unless it is expected
they are unlikely to be recipients or that they would be willing,
in the case that they are nominated, to casually dismiss their
religious beliefs and compulsions.
The argument that the movement to have this name change is
an anti-Christian one is totally without merit. Yes, the Hindus
and Muslims have been the leading proponents for the change.
But note they have not been asking for Hindu or Muslim symbolism,
imagery or names.
They have been asking for a religious-neutral name. So there
is clearly no intent to push, inflict or impose their beliefs
on the population or State.
On the other hand, if Christians insist on keeping the name,
irrespective of the reasons they advance, they are guilty
of supporting an unjustifiable (in the context of a secular
state and a plural society) inequality on the population.
The question then they have to ask themselves is: do they
really believe in the saying Do onto others as you want
them to do onto you?
The IROs belief in the brotherhood of man is put into
question since it has yet to support the call for change,
one that not only rectifies this indigestible cultural and
religious hegemony, but also seeks to bring about equality
One would assume that this is an issue that would have had
its unreserved support. One is hard-pressed to comprehend
how non-Christian members could continue to serve in or belong
to an organisation that does not act to change or speak out
against such discrimination and inequity.
This issue has the potential to create even greater divisions
in an already divided society. Indeed, if it does not act,
one would be forced to question the utility, function and
rationale for the continued existence of the IRO.
To the apologists who claim that there are many more pressing
issues that are facing the country, I say to them that they
should curb the nonsensical spouting. Some one-third of the
population feel that this is very important to their psychological
Furthermore, are they saying that as a nation we are incapable
of dealing with more than one issue at any instant in time?
To the charlatans and the ignorant who claim that the cross
is not a Christian symbol or that it is a Hindu symbol, please
check any reputable dictionary, encyclopaedia or the judgment
of the eminent Justice Jamadar. In fact, as a public service
I would propose that this judgment be made available for public
consumption through the Internet and/or the print media.
It is indeed incredibly amazing that this award, which violates
the principles emanating from the national anthem, one that
violates the basic principles of natural justice, that does
grave violence to the concept of plurality and publicly mocks
the idea that we are a secular state, still exists. We cannot
change the past but must learn from it.
We should not use the unwillingness and or inability of others
in the past as an excuse to not rectify this historical injustice.
They have already been judged.
Are we, in the here and now, prepared be like them or are
we prepared to fully subscribe to the idea of a plural diversity,
one of harmony in diversity, a shining, colourful rainbow
Please, let not the cross cast a shadow over our rainbow.
Persad is chairman of Swaha Inc