education, ethics, inspirational, motivational, Uncategorized

Customer Service

Great Customer Service! In Trinidad that is an oxymoron. However I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised on Monday 5th June.

Image result for customer service

There I was harassed and concerned about obtaining my International Visa Travel Card. I had joined a queue. You know how waiting multiplies times. Well… I felt that I had been there for a long, long time.

Just as I got to the top of the line, from almost nowhere, another bank customer rushed to the counter to “ask a question”. I was so annoyed but I kept my peace and waited to see what would be the outcome.

Thankfully, something wonderful happened. Something I hardly ever witness. The attending clerk very politely informed said customer that there was a line and everyone else was waiting to ask a question also.

I was relieved. I really thought that the person would have gotten through by breaking the line and it was a breath of fresh air to encounter fair customer service.

I got through but ended up having to visit another section in the same branch. Again, as I sat awaiting my turn, a hot and bothered woman rushed to the counter, with the look on her face that she was very busy and needed attending to right away.

There was already another customer at the counter, so I told her that she had to take a seat and wait her turn. Her response? “I just want to ask a question.” Well ‘dearie’ that is exactly what I was waiting to do as well. I shrugged and let her be.

The clerk noticed her standing impatiently in the way and addressed her with a pleasant, “Good morning”. That was her cue to rush in and “ask her question”.

Again I was fortunate to witness another moment of impartiality, rightness, courtesy, integrity…call it what you will, I witnessed it and was so pleased.

The clerk very nicely asked her to sit and wait her turn. She sat next to me and sought a sympathetic ear. I usually do lend such an ear but not this time. I could not condone her actions.

Would you believe that I witnessed yet another such incident mere hours later at another financial situation? My, my I just may have to reassess the level of customer service in Trinidad. It seems that slowly the apparently uncaring servers are evolving into people with a conscience and a kind, considerate and gentle disposition.

Kudos to those two financial institutions. My faith in humanity and goodness was nurtured on Monday.

education, mental health, resilience, Uncategorized

Series of Workshops on Resilience

We all go through rough times.

It may be a loss of job, loss of a loved one through death or breakup, loss of good health, loss of sense of self after a devastating blow or business or examination failure.

Whatever your particular loss may be at this point in time, I have come to realize that there are some basic steps that can help to smooth the transition to a “new normal”.

I recognized a pattern of behaviours to overcome tough times through my own life’s journeys down a rocky road that at one point involved being a survivor of gun violence.

Resilient woman

My third book,”Bounce Back Better, 10(+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience” discusses the steps that all of us need to employ as we traverse this unpredictable, sometimes bumpy life pathway.

 

Out of the third book, I have developed and am developing a series of workshops that will soon be available. The workshops are entitled:

  • Women’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Woman
  • Girls’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Girl (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Boys’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Boy (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Men’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Man

The series are 12 part series based on the principles in my book, Bounce Back Better. Each workshop is specifically modified for the the selected audience. The workshops include specially designed workbooks and can be done as half day sessions (12) or whole day sessions (6).

The series :

  • develops definitions of success and resilience,
  • evaluates participants current level of resilience,
  • provides and develops the steps needed for resilience and
  • includes interactive exercises on faith, personal strength, social networks and higher values.

I am planning to host the various workshops online at some point in time and will soon make available an introductory video.

If you are interested in the workshops, online or offline, leave a comment below. You can follow my blog to receive information as it becomes available or leave your email address in the form below.

book launch, bounce back better, education, motivational, Uncategorized

Bounce Back Better

 

Are you at a crossroad in your life? Have you experienced the loss of a loved one or the loss of your job? Did you just go through a defining moment in your life such as a major ill health diagnosis, an accident  or trauma due to a violent attack?

Maybe you are feeling burnt out at work or have a sense of restlessness, like there is something missing.

If you are overwhelmed with uncertainty about the future or if a friend or loved one seems to be feeling like this, then my new book, Bounce Back Better is for you!

This book is highly recommended by Trinidadian educator and education consultant, Raymond S. Hackett. Here is what Mr. Hackett had to say about the book in his foreword:

As an educator for the past five decades and three years, I cannot honestly admit that I have read a book more comprehensive than and relevant to the times as Bounce Back Better 10 (+ 1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.  Inspired by the message and advice which characterise this book, I look forward to an outcome which will cause the general public, magistrates, judges, lawyers, members of the Lower House and the Senate of our Parliament, policemen, doctors, nurses, social workers, probation officers, teachers, particularly secondary school students above Forms One and Two, guidance officers, clinical psychologists, and last but not least advocates of Restorative Justice to read this third book which Caron Asgarali has written. Without doubt, it is prescribed reading for all.

Click on the link below to get your copy of Bounce Back Better, 10 (+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.

https://www.amazon.com/Bounce-Back-Better-Caron-Asgarali/dp/1504368568

Let me know if you think you need a book like this right now in your life, in the comments below.

 

book launch, bounce back better, education, gun violence, Uncategorized

A Different Approach to a Book Launch

My third book has been out since December 2016. I have not done, planned nor have I thought about planning a book launch.

This time around things are different. My book is about resilience. The title is “Bounce Back Better 10(+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.”

It is a follow through from my first book “From Lion to Lamb A Spiritual Journey”.

The first is a memoir based on the incident that changed the course of my life through a severe injury. The third is a self-help book for anyone who has undergone some kind of difficulty and needs encouragement to move forward from that setback.

Both books have come after one act of gun violence. The theme for both books is the same, peacemaking not peace breaking.

Thus after the first book launch which was steeped in formality, planning and structure, I have decided to try a different approach with this third book.

I have put the word out on Facebook that my new book is available. I have my FB page linked to my Balboa Press website. The book is also on Amazon.

In keeping with the theme of the book, I organised an event to launch another of my projects, RARE.

RARE refers to Raising Awareness on the Ripple Effect of gun violence. RARE seeks to raise awareness on the physical, emotional, financial and spiritual effects of of one act of gun violence on the victim as well as those directly and indirectly connected with the victim.

On a deeper level, RARE promotes peacemaking and resilience building.

The launch included four different speakers for each aspect of gun violence. I spoke to pull all aspects together. I did not directly pitch my books but showed the connections between the books and the work being done.

At the event I had all three of my books on display and available for sale. Attendees received a prayer card with one of the prayers from my second book, Gently Powerful Personal Prayers for Collective Grace. Lots of refreshments were available.

 

Critical in this event was:

  1. Ensuring that everyone was clear on their role in the programme.
  2. Having my thoughts well organised before the event day, so that on the day, regardless of any physical setbacks,I was able to clearly communicate to the attendees the purpose of the event.
  3. Having people to handle the distribution of the prayer cards, the sale of the books, the thank you cards and the refreshments. Special thanks to my family and friends.
  4. Sending out much more invitations than the estimated amount of guests.
  5. Having an outline or programme of event so that the evening flowed smoothly.
  6. Outsourcing the refreshments. I already had enough to do without having to worry about preparing refreshments.
  7. Having a good, experienced host for the evening, who was able to hold the fort and bring harmony among the speakers.

There is more but I will leave that for another post.

So a book can be promoted without directly promoting it in a classy way (not that I think I am classy).

Feel free to ask me anything about launching your book.

education, gun violence, motivational, peace

Violence… a learned behaviour

aggressive-violent-behavior-nature-or-nurture

The response of violence to conflict is, to some extent, a learned behaviour. This statement includes gun violence.

It comes from a place of fear of being a target, fear of living daily with the threat of gun violence and fear of not conforming. That is a lot of fear.

Even before a crime takes place, guns, and the accompanying violence, play a significant part in the lives of those in communities with a reputation of violence.

The outcome of such fear and learned violent behaviour is a lack of respect for the value of life, individual, community and national life.

Those who suffer directly or indirectly from the effects of gun violence all reach to the same place emotionally and mentally.

This congruence of feeling and thought creates a hopeful opportunity. It ought to become the catalyst that gives us the will and courage to address the gun violence that is becoming a part of our daily life.

Religious leaders are casting blame on the lack of coherence of family units for the increasing violence in society.

Alternatively a family may be unified but their environment and learned responses of violence precludes the teaching of respect for anything including life.

One leader has included the availability of drugs and weapons as well as the existence of gangs as factors contributing to the rising violence and incidences of gun related crimes.

All of these are true. The reasons are valid and relevant.

However my aim (no pun intended) is not to cast blame or vent anger or frustration against the system or the perpetrators of violence.

Instead my aim is to amplify the message of the sanctity of life and the kind of respect each one of us needs to have for the life of another.

With every pull of a gun trigger, there emerges a bullet that may hit a living target.

That bullet may penetrate through tissue, tendons, nerves, muscles and bones causing physical damage in the immediate area.

figure8

The kinetic energy of that compact piece of lead disseminates to surrounding organic matter causing further damage not immediately visible.

Similarly, that same bullet penetrates the psyche of the victim and his or her family, friends and associates, tearing their lives apart emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially and in other ways.

The ripple effect of that nucleus of destruction is far reaching and has no time limits.

The learned behaviour of violence in response to conflict can be unlearnt. New, more peaceful responses can be learnt which lead to greater respect and harmony.

Your response?

education, inspirational, motivational, religious, Uncategorized

Relying On God

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Chronicles 16:9

 

Image here

When I first read this piece of scripture, my heart leapt. To my mind, this is a most beautiful passage of scripture that speaks powerfully about the Lord’s commitment to us and reveals the depth of commitment we ought to have to Him.

Today many popular television programmes are talent shows, usually involving singing or dancing. In the seventies in our beloved country, a televised production of a talent show called “Scouting for Talent” was aired. Mr. Holly Betaudier, an esteemed son of our soil and cultural icon was the host of that show.

Mr. Betaudier, fondly referred to as Holly B, developed a hunger for local culture as a child. The springboard for his involvement in media and entertainment came as early as the 1940’s when he began working with the U.S. Armed Forces radio service network, WVDI.

In 1962, our local state media Trinidad and Tobago Television, TTT, was inaugurated. Holly B began his cultural and entertainment odyssey when he joined TTT at that time. During that time the soon to be popular show, “Scouting For Talent” emerged.

Mr. Betaudier was relentless in his quest for local talent. He encouraged singing including originals and  local songs as well as remakes. He welcomed all types of dance and instruments, reflective of our multicultural background. He even accommodated comedians and monologues.

The show was the only avenue for public exposure at that time for our local artistes. In fact many of our local entertainers made debut performances on that show. Holly B sought after excellence. He sought out those who had confidence, talent and commitment. He supported those who were willing to put their talent to the test on his programme.

Incentives abounded for participants, including many giveaways. Actual prizes were given out of course, but there was  the thrill of being televised to a national audience. In those days programming was limited to our only television station at the time, TTT. This translated into the national population having to view that programme during prime time on a Tuesday night. Scouting for Talent was sometimes done in the studio but many times Holly B would take to the road. He did indeed “scout” for talent, searching the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago for worthy talent, eager to reward them for their commitment to excellence and local culture.

The passage in 2 Chronicles evoked images of Holly B to me. Here was a man who searched all over our twin island, seeking people who were also seeking him. He wanted to showcase talent; they wanted to have their talent showcased. What a win-win situation!

We too can be in a win-win situation. The passage tells us of God’s search for people who are believers so that he can give them due support and strength to maintain their faith. Let us look at the passage in greater detail. What was the historical context of the passage?  Who was being addressed? What came after those words? How can we make our hearts perfect to him? What is the promise if we keep perfect to him?

The books of Chronicles were written as narrative histories and genealogies. Both books are supposedly written by the same author, the prophet Ezra. 1 Chronicles deals mainly with Kings David and Solomon but it also traces the background of David’s monarchy from the time of Adam to the reign of King Solomon.

2 Chronicles continues with the history as told from the perspective of Ezra. The first sections of this book deal with King Solomon’s reign and the building of the temple. A history of the kings of Judah follows and the book ends as the temple of Solomon is destroyed.

It is proposed that these chronicles were documented in part to emphasise to the people that destruction is pre-destined for those who disobey but those who maintain their promises and commitments to God will be blessed. This is shown repeatedly by the prospering of the good kings and the suffering of those who fall into sin.

Thus the Chronicles are written to document the religious history of Israel. This was addressed to the Israelites in general so that they could study the practices of the past leaders and recognize what was required for a successful reign. It has been suggested that these two books were written to highlight key elements to the Jews after their exile; these elements were inclusive of giving due glory to God, gratitude for God’s covenant to David and the need to be completely devoted to God in order to remain in his favour.

It has also been postulated that even though it was written for the people at that time, it may be extrapolated to our individual lives and communities today. By careful study of the historical content of the Chronicles it is possible to discern under which kings there was prosperity or defeat. The Chronicles also lend themselves as modules of valuable leadership skills, qualities and actions necessary for the flourishing of a monarchy or people…and naturally, to the elimination of certain behaviours which could prove detrimental.

The chapters preceding 2 Chronicles16 focus attention on King Solomon and the building of the temple along with other duties.  In other preceding chapters we read of the fall of Judah, the splitting of the Kingdoms, North and South divisions, the reign of the Southern Kings, Rehoboam and Abijah. Then we read of the reign of Asa.

Asa’s reign represented a time of prosperity for the people. He was observant of the will of God and of the covenant made to them. He instituted religious reforms and proved worthy of the grace and favour of God. However even he fell from grace.

In his thirty sixth year of reign, his kingdom was under attack. Instead of relying on God for victory, Asa undertook to negotiate on his own behalf. He sent silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple to King Ben-hadad of Aram to break a treaty with King Baasha of Israel, who was attacking Asa’s Kingdom.

Hanani, a seer, visited Asa soon after the attack was withdrawn. He told of God’s displeasure. He recalled that Asa’s successes thus far were due to his faithfulness and submission to God. He told Asa that had he relied on God, God would have given him control of the attacking army, as was done in the past.

This is the point at which the scripture comes into play. Hanani reminds Asa that God seeks to support the faithful and those of integrity. He seeks them out relentlessly, just waiting to grant them overflowing blessings, to grant them victory over their enemies. All God wanted was for Asa to continue in the traditions with which he had started.

Asa would not hear of it and continued to live without repenting. Several years later he contracted a foot disease. He refused to acknowledge the Lord even when thus weakened. He eventually passed away without submitting to God, even though he underwent great suffering.

From this lesson we learn that God wants us to rely completely on him. He wants our intentions and desires to be pure. We are called to live with strength of conviction in his will and to be examples of good character and spirituality for those who will come after us.

If we apply the teachings in these books to future generations of David’s line, we see that the ultimate King in that line is Jesus Christ. All other Kings, regardless of their greatness in their reign, sought to be perfect but only in Christ there is perfection.  That perfection is what our salvation is.

Extension of the principles of Chronicles leads to a comparison between the temple built by Solomon and the Temple of the Spirit. One temple was destroyed after one hundred and fifty years; the other cannot be destroyed for it is the figurative house of those who believe in Christ. The promise for believers is that God is seeking to bring us to him at any cost. He is willing to forgive us and restore us if only we would seek him out fervently and faithfully, with prayer and repentance.

Let us do like those contestants in the Scouting For Talent show; let us seek God as we perfect our actions armed with the knowledge that he too is seeking us out, ready to make us all winners.

Relying on God alone for support

Kneeling every day as I fall short,

Will make me a winner

As God scouts the earth for repentant sinners.

 

God’s words and my actions:

Today I will use every opportunity to be strong in God’s word by:

Relying completely on God and praying and repenting with integrity.

 

Thank you Lord, Amen!

education, Health and lifestyle, inspirational, motivational

On friendship

http://cl.jroo.me/z3/Q/Z/q/e/a.baa-Cute-kitten-pokes-a-dog.jpg

Spoke to an old friend last night. First time in more than twenty four years that we have spoken.

The best things in life are free – so the saying goes and it is so true, Relationships, friends, family make life worthwhile. They bring  a smile to your face and make the burdens of life seem insignificant.

There are some bonds when forged that never grow weak. The bond that was formed so many years ago remains tried and tested by the harshness of time.

Live your life treating each day like it is your last one. Things happen over which we have no control. Live to have few regrets and to make it easier for your cherished ones to have good thoughts to hang on to when you are no longer with them.

Pray everyday. Build a bond with your maker, just as you forge relationships with others.

Life is difficult but the sparks of joy emanating from the occasional meeting of souls smooths out the rough spots.

Have you renewed any old friendships lately? Have you made a new acquaintance? Do you cherish those near and dear to you and let them know that regularly? I would love to know your take in this matter so feel free to leave a comment in the space below.

education, Health and lifestyle, inspirational, motivational, religious

Be Ever Grateful

 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”   

Psalm 100: 1-5

Sing joyful praise to God

Serve Him gladly for He is our Lord.

Let every moment be filled with praise

From now until the end of your days.

In the year 2012, Trinidad’s Keshorn Walcott won a gold medal at the Olympics for throwing the javelin. An admirable feat of itself but he was also the first black person to win the gold in this event.

http://www.sporting-heroes.net/content/thumbnails/00303/30234-zoom.jpg

His country showered him with adulation, praise and rewards. The day he returned home was declared a public holiday. In addition to this there was a welcoming ceremony beyond anything he could have imagined before leaving to participate in the Olympics.

That was not all: he was awarded a large financial reward; a piece of land in his hometown of Toco; a luxurious home in the city of Port of Spain; and the Toco lighthouse and secondary school were given new names after this new hero.

Nadia Sanowar Art - Rushing Waves  by Nadia Sanowar

(This magnificent image of a Toco beach was captured by photographer, Nadia Sanowar and can be viewed at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/rushing-waves-nadia-sanowar.html)

Traversing the island of Trinidad one is sure to encounter a monument or statue or building named in honor of someone who had achieved excellence. These features of our landscape are a reflection of the profound debt of gratitude we have for our achievers:

https://puralasetty3.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/41059050_adelaide300.jpg

  • the Brian Lara Promenade (cricket);

  • statues of Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani (politics), Christopher Columbus in the Columbus Square, Sir Ellis Knights (steel pan – founder of the Siparia Deltones), Lord Kitchener (calypso) and Sir Winston Spree Simon (steelpan);

  • an airplane was named after our first Miss Universe 1977,

    Janelle ‘Penny” Commissiong;

  • and there are numerous streets named after a wide range of personalities.

     

This list is definitely not exhaustive!

Why do we indulge in this practice of praising and rewarding those who have represented us well in their respective field of endeavor? Psychologist Abraham Maslow postulated a theory of psychological health which is still relevant today: the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

In his original work, Maslow theorized that there are five stages of need, starting from the lowest level of biological needs such as food and shelter to the highest level of need which involves self – growth and fulfillment. Each level has to be fulfilled starting at the lowest level before an individual is motivated to satisfy the next level.

http://spencercyoung.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/3-d-pyramid-bordered-491×315.jpg

Today there are different versions of Maslow’s hierarchy with more levels of needs. It is possible to use this theory to understand what motivates people, individually and collectively. It could help answer the question posed above which seeks to assimilate the need to publicly thank our luminaries.

For example, level three of the hierarchy addresses the need for love and a feeling of belonging, while the need for esteem, status and respect fits into level four. Both these levels of needs are associated with receiving recognition.

By paying such homage to an individual several outcomes or a combination of outcomes may be possible: the individual could become motivated to aspire to greater heights; the individual’s legacy becomes immortalized; or others could be inspired to distinction.

More than sixty years ago an endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in the treatment of diseases resulting from glandular malfunctions or hormonal problems), Hans Selye acknowledged that one of the best ways to combat stress is to display gratitude.

Growing in importance today is the field of “positive psychology”. Doctors in this field have correlated a list of core characteristics with a sense of well- being. One of the most important values in this list is gratitude. They assert that having or displaying gratitude has at least seven benefits, including not taking things for granted.

Research has shown that expressing thanks for anything is closely linked to a plethora of physical responses including sleeping better, exercising more, being less prone to depression and experiencing less aches and pain (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain).

These responses were justified by a study which revealed increased activity in the hypothalamus of the brain- the region of the brain which is responsible for many metabolic activities and which influences levels of stress in the body.

Within the last few decades, the word dopamine has become quite familiar, particularly to athletes. Dopamine is referred to as the “feel good” neurotransmitter.

Whatever activity produces dopamine in your body is the activity you want to repeat. Yes, giving thanks and dopamine stimulation are simultaneous actions. Thus being grateful floods us with a need to keep on giving in order to sustain that good feeling. (Although an overproduction of dopamine is also associated with depression as found in studies over the last few years.)

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scicurious-brain/the-dopamine-sides-of-depression/

These studies provide answers to the question previously put forward: why do we shower accolades on those who have accomplished? We pay great tribute to notable personalities to motivate them or others and to establish their legacy. We recognize their contributions in gratitude because doing so makes us feel good in so many ways.

The hectic pace of life makes it difficult to sustain efforts at gratitude but that is exactly what we need to do in order to synergize efforts to improve our well-being.

Without minimizing the achievements of any of our heroes, we must pause for a moment to reflect on the greatest Hero – our Creator. Without Him we would not even exist. There would be no Keshorn, no Brian Lara and no Lord Kitchener. Nothing any of us achieves can compare to what He has done and continues to do for us. He even gave His Son to set us free from sin! Greater love has no man, than to lay down his life for another.

Psalm 100, the Psalm of thanksgiving, urges us to give thanks to God, joyfully; not with reluctance; not unhappily; but joyfully. We are instructed to serve Him with gladness, not sadness. Why? We ought to serve Him because it is the least we could do for Him. There is nothing that we could give Him that He does not have. All that is ours comes from Him.

When we spend time in worship we must express praise and thanks in song. This Psalm is the only one with the defining title of “Psalm of giving thanks” for a reason: it was intended for use in services, to show our appreciation for our Saviour and God.

This is imperative and desirable because our very existence is dependent on Him. Being grateful to our Creator is obvious but easy to take for granted so we are reminded in this Psalm that we need to sing His praises for He made us in His likeness.

When we become aware of our origin and our Maker, it ought to instill an elevated sense of indebtedness which commands us to bow down in worship and to sing His praises joyfully. The blessings which flow compassionately from Him should be reciprocated by our blessing of His name.

Unlike our earthly heroes, our heavenly Father has not achieved excellence; He defines excellence with such supremacy that we cannot even wrap our finite minds around such a concept. His actions are infinite, constant and everlasting. Generations have experienced the magnitude of His compassion and grace and generations to come will continue to do so, until such time as only He knows.

Scientific research has revealed physical and psychological merits to having an attitude of giving or gratitude. Psalm 100 reveals that the most important merit of gratitude is spiritual. The blessings of God are assured when we humble ourselves with elation as we give thanks to Him for all His love toward us in spite of our imperfections.

If we feel strongly enough to heap adulation on our earthly achievers then our desire to give thanks to God would or should be without limitations. Deeper cogitation on this verse leads us to conclude that we owe Him praise and glory every second of every minute, of every hour, of every day…

The point is that this expression of gratitude to God has to be with exultation and it has to have no time limits: it must not be confined to only when things appear to work in our favor; it must be given freely all the time simply because God is good and unchanging in His truth.

If you are grateful today for anything, please share it. I look forward to hearing what puts you in an attitude of gratitude!

education, ethics, grief, Health and lifestyle

Painful or pain full? Children killing children.

Boy, 10, killed in gun play

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20150806/news/boy-10-killed-in-gun-play

My heart is filled with so much pain on reading this: pain for the family without one of its members forever; pain for the child who has lost a vital part of his childhood having committed this act; pain for the child who was wounded and is hospitalised; and pain for the larger picture.

What really is the larger picture? In my mind it is the steady decline in morality in our society, the growing lack of respect for life and the frightening sub-culture of weaponry education (not even sure if that makes sense but it so aptly says what is in my mind.)

Many are focussing on the ever-increasing number of photos displaying kids with guns surfacing on social media sites.

These bring into the spotlight the possibility that this may not have been an odd incident of children playing with the gun of an adult without the adult’s cognizance or compliance.

What of the scenario where the children may be encouraged in holding guns to become familiar with the feel of a weapon, to learn how to hold it properly?

You know, like how one would lend a child a cricket bat to become used to holding it so that when the time comes to use it, the child will be suitably prepped.

Time is spent on developing their gun toting skills so that when they are older the gun becomes like a third appendage.

Little time appears to be spent on developing morals and values. There appears to be a corresponding decline in spirituality with the increasing lack of compassion and respect for human life.

I shudder whenever I hear of a shooting, particularly when it results in death. I shudder for the usual reasons. I also react from the perspective of a former victim.

I wondered then and still do, how could someone have watched me, at such close range, and fired at me, with no care if I lived or died? Perhaps whoever it was even wanted me to die!

I wondered how it is that I was such an easy going person and someone would have such hatred for me… and that someone did not even know me.

I wondered what could have gone so wrong that someone had to shoot at me, a harmless person, unarmed, a person who would do almost anything for anyone, where was the compassion?

As a society we really do have to take stock. We cannot go on with superficial caring, being hurt in reaction to some incident, soon to forget when some other sensational news item emerges.

I accept my own lack of conviction. I feel but I do nothing about it. I write in response to the occasional incident.

I have planned programmes, just waiting to deliver them to the right forum, to anyone willing to accomodate me, but that is where I have reached.

I have planned. I now have to execute. I will be starting when school re-opens. I have approached a couple schools and have received positive feedback.

My plan is to attack from a spiritual point of view. I am not restricting my strategy to religion.

There is much to learn about mercy, forgiveness, compassion, humility, integrity, peace, love and purity of heart and purpose.

I end still on a saddened note. What kind of world are we leaving for our children and grandchildren if we do not impart values and morals to them?

Tell me your views on the scourge of violence and lack of respect for life plaguing our universe. What is your individual contribution to dissipate the insidious  and obvious evils of crime and violence which are threatening to envelope  all people?

education, politics

Twenty fifth Anniversary of 1990 Coup

Twenty seventh July 1990. The day I confirmed being pregnant for the second time. The first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.

On this day, I left the doctor’s office filled with happiness. When my husband (now ex-) met me at the nursing home, he shared my joy. We could not wait to share with our respective families.

On getting home, we each had a shower before joining the rest of his family. We lived at his parents’ home at the time.

It was just about that time that the mood of the evening changed. What was about to unfold was something so unreal to us but yet it was actually happening.

On the television screen of one of our local channels, there was  a news reporter, surrounded by two armed men dressed in Muslim garb. We know now that they were Muslimeen, belonging to the Mucurapo Mosque in Northern Trinidad.

At first we thought it was some sort of prank; only in Trinidad could one think that terrorists on the news channel would be a joke. But that is an indication of how far-fetched the idea of terrorism or a coup had been for us.

As we continued looking on the seriousness of the situation became clear. There was a pronouncement by the leader of the group that, “There will be no looting”.

That statement seems to have been a signal. Immediately the crowds in Port of Spain began to riot; there was looting everywhere. The situation was scary.

We heard of hostages in the Red House, at the television station and the radio stations. We heard of shootings and rampant lawlessness. We were put under curfew and could not venture out after six in the evening.

Groceries were being rationed. Goods were scarce. Milk was hard to come by. I remember that distinctly because my then husband and I wanted to make sure I drank enough milk.

We had to settle for a case of chocolate milk.

The atmosphere was so unlike the usual jolly Trini atmosphere. There was a lot of tension; much speculation about outside forces being involved. Hovering helicopters had us scampering inside, unsure of their intention.

But even in the midst of this almost tangible fear and foreboding, we found a way to diffuse it. On our compound there were three families. We got together and organised to cook curried duck and roti (a type of flat unleavened bread).

This was like placing masking tape over a leaking water line: it could not keep off the dripping water. The ever-present fear and concern for our beloved country and people could not be kept at bay by mere morsels of food.

The foremost thought in my mind was of the  type of future my darling child would have. We delayed telling anyone of our good news, filled with trepidation about the situation and how severe it could get and how long it would last.

The details of the 1990 Coup in Trinidad can be found on the internet but the reality of the emotional, physical and psychological trauma can only be imagined, unless you have also been in such a situation.

Tell me how does one make the decision to undertake holding a country to ransom?