Peace not Violence

We have all been in conflict at some time, with someone. Conflict is not unusual. In fact our very individuality is what leads to conflict. Differences in beliefs, values, customs, cultures or opinions are bound to occur because of our unique combinations of personality, intellect, emotions and spirituality.

This is not a bad thing. Conflict however, becomes a problem if we do not learn or know how to manage it. In managing conflict we are able to agree to disagree as the saying goes. Unbridled conflict on the other hand, can easily become unmanageable and lead to violence.

To avoid violence arising from conflict that is not tempered with reason and compassion, we need to resort to a variety of skills and talents, some of which can be taught and learnt.

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Skills to side step violence and lead to peaceful resolutions include critical thinking, thinking before acting, listening compassionately, responding with respect even if you are in disagreement with someone and of course, genuine love for people that overrides the urge to dislike or hate a person because of a difference in opinion.

As Martin Luther King Jr. elegantly put it, “You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

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Adopt an attitude of love, compassion, humility, respect and peace today. Refuse to hate anyone because they are different than you.





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.

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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.

Painful or pain full? Children killing children.

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?

Growing Spiritually with Mr. Philip G. Rochford.

This is an overdue post. I attended the launch of the eleventh book, Think, Be Still & Grow Spiritually, Your Spiritual Manifesto, by one Mr. Philip G. Rochford on Saturday 2nd May 2015 and  have been wanting to write about the event since that day.

However, because of physical exhaustion, not related to the event, I have been unable to focus enough to do this post.

Anyway, it is not too late. A good thing is a good thing irrespective of time… and it was a great thing.

Before relating about the event, I am compelled to share one of the reviews of Think, Be Still & Grow Spiritually. I read this as I awaited the start of the launch and,had I worn socks they would have been blown off by this review.

The review was written by The Elder, Chief If`a Oj`e Won Yomi Abiodun…LeRoy Clarke, Author of “Parables of Our Joyless Days.” Here it is.

“An Offering of Balm

The proposition that the effrontery prevailing upon our space at present, will successfully further wither our spiritual into dread submission at being witnesses to our own funeral has no chance, up against our just, indefatigable poetic will!

Under all this insurrectionist weight, a prefatory soul exults, setting perdition’s obdurate Seals asunder; before it, their prevaricators will retreat to their solicitude of acrid, underarm odors and that commotion suited insomniacs. It will be this progeny of a fiercer zeal, Philip Rochford, by avoiding the spit of the peddle among aphorisms of pavement glitter, to emerge armed with an aurora of minted texts… and, with salved disposition, and the sonorous timbre of his arborescent faith, transfix centurion pillories; putting those barren bearings of misalliance to rest in their deep, dark slough of misanthrope…

That he has persisted with successive testimonials, he has published seven titles; demonstrates a will that will not wane under that impounding death that will not die… He is certain to urge us, guaranteed: To Think, Be Still & Grow Spiritually! (Is the Key)-Indeed, a dream stirs, reminding us further; to fain Gravity is to be ennobled by Grace.”

 How does one transition from such eloquence?

Simply. Let me tell you about the gentleman, eloquence personified .

My connection with Mr. Rochford.


Mr. Philip Guy Rochford is near and dear to me for several reasons. He is a prominent citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, one whom I admire for his outstanding achievements for over forty years.

He is the man who willingly agreed to write the foreword for my own book, From Lion to Lamb: A Spiritual Journey, without ever meeting me, without knowing me personally. This exemplifies one of the traits about the man that was spoken about on Saturday: he is an “encourager”.

He did more than write the foreword; he guided me through the self-publishing process, cheering me along the way.

He did not forget me after that project. Mr. Rochford continues to be accessible and willing to assist and encourage whenever called upon.

The Professional Mr. Rochford.

But who really is Philip G. Rochford? He started out in the public sector in Trinidad back in the mid-sixties.  He served as an advisor to the then Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams, for a ten year period.

He worked in the banking sector and was the first local Chief Executive Officer at the National Commercial Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Rochford received a national award for his contribution in the arena of economics in 1975.He has since become a certified life coach apart from being a published author many times over.

He is a husband, father and grandfather.

You may read more about the professional, Mr. Philip G. Rochford  here.

So on to the Formal Launch of his newest book, Think, Be Still and Grow Spiritually, Your Spiritual Manifesto.

The Event.

The professionalism of the man was reflected in the programme that Saturday evening. The venue was Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre at St. Ann’s in North Trinidad:  a lovely room in pristine settings.

A table for registration greeted guests as they arrived. There was a beautifully laid out book displays. I was impressed by the titles, their content and the connections apparent from those titles.



Above: Mrs Edlin Rochford adjusts the display before the event.


The programme would have started on time because everything was in place for just that purpose. However, in typical “Trini” style, guest arrival was tardy. The event began about ten minutes later than the proposed time as a result.

The stage was set with a head table for the guest speakers, Chairperson and Mr. Rochford. The table was appropriately adorned with a banner.


The launch unfolded with an invitation by the chairperson, Mrs. Edlin Rochford for all to stand for the National Anthem and to join in prayer.

The speakers were then invited to the podium as we were treated to insights of the author that could only come from those who were close enough to him, who had known him long enough.

Then we heard from the author before some comments from the audience and the vote of thanks.

Mr. Eden Shand: “Connections and Conversations with the Author.”

(as indicated on the programme for the launch)

One of his best friends, Mr. Eden Shand was the first speaker. He alluded to one of the author’s previous book titles as being a statement of the author: Glimpses of Greatness.

His message was well delivered, in deep tones, resounding with the underlying closeness that he obviously shares with the author.


Above: Mr. Shand addresses the audience. Seated from left at the head table:

Mrs. Edlin Rochford, Mrs. Andrea Rochford- Douglas and Mr. Nazeer Sultan.

Mr. Shand, I must add, is also a prominent son of our soil. He was involved in politics for a short time under our NAR government but he is most well known as an environmentalist. He is a consultant , has his own company and is also an author.

He spoke of the beginnings of the spiritual journey of the author in his youthful years. Mr. Rochford was part of a spiritual circle of men. He was considered by those in the circle as the “Great Comforter”.

He told that such was the spirituality of Mr. Rochford that he presided over the local wedding of his (Mr. Shand’s) daughter at her request.

Mr. Rochford ,we were told, was an adivisor, a mentor and encourager and:

“No man is a failure who has been befriended by Philip G. Rochford.”


Mrs. Andrea Rochford-Douglas: “The impact of my father’s spirituality on my life.”              

(as indicated on the programme for the launch)

It is so heartwarming to hear a daughter speak of her father in such glowing terms, especially in his presence. I spoke about my father…at his funeral. This was truly a moving moment.

Ms Rochford – Douglas’s eyes were glistening, as she reflected on some intensely personal memories of her father and the impact of his spirituality on all his children’s lives.

As a young child, she was once confused as to why there were holy books from different religious backgrounds in their house. Her father’s response: “religion is the pathway to serve God.” In his estimation, it did not matter what a person’s religion was, the ultimate purpose was the same.

We heard that Mr. Rochford prayed and meditated two times per day, morning and evening, in the same place, on a daily basis.

He modelled spirituality to his children and molded their own spirituality by such example.

Mr. Nazeer Sultan: “ My reflections on the book, ‘Think, Be Still & Grow Spirtiually’.”

(as indicated on the programme for the launch)

Entertaining, intellectual and revealing: these are the words which come to mind when I reflected on this speech.

This protégé of Mr. Rochford led us through the development of their relationship which in itself was a spiritual journey of sorts. The principles outlined in the book are indeed those practiced by the author.

PG, as he was fondly referred to by this speaker, had a personal theory of change. He was a spiritual man even in his days in the corporate world.

He was described as having change in his DNA and was one who was not satisfied with change in and of itself but required that the change took place in the mindset of the leaders he encountered.

The leadership principles of today such as leading by example, listening, encouraging, flexibility and self-growth, were practiced by Mr. Rochford in the seventies.

One of his sayings was, “ you cannot enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thinking.” Now isn’t that profound?

Mr. Philip Guy Rochford: “The Story behind the Book.”

(as indicated on the programme for the launch)


We learnt that the story and the passion for writing the story was borne out of a visit in September 2014 by the author to the United States. He went to a coaching programme where he “became alive”.

This book is different from his first ten books in two ways, we were told:

It reflected spiritual aspects of his life’s work which were not shared previously.

It was intense – completed in two weeks.

Thoughts were recorded as they came, sometimes at 3 a.m., so that they would not become lost or forgotten.

Some Critical points about the book, Think, Be Still & Grow Spiritually.

Mr Rochford proposes that, like fingerprints, no two people share the same spiritual perspective. He defined spirituality in several ways, one of which was that it is the exercise of core values in daily activities on a daily basis.

He postulated that all religions share the following:

  • belief in a God
  • advocate being your brother’s respecter
  • exert control by fear of some punishment.
  • Have some minimum values to be followed.

The book is based on seven of these values. They are encrypted in the acronym: FOLDING. (You will have to get your copy of the book to find out what this means).

We are reminded by the author that what we achieve in life is due to the attention we place on our intentions.

The book explores the values of FOLDING in consecutive chapters. Each chapter is followed by a spiritual exercise with the intention of assisting the reader in developing the thought processes to grow spiritually.

He urges that the reader strive to develop a spiritual manifesto as the book is read.

My thoughts.

Several things stood out for me.


These words resonated in my consciousness because they so aptly represent my own spiritual journey. This is what Mr. Rochford  recommends that we do in order to soar as an eagle: strive to move onward, upward and inward.

  • Mental fasting:

I practice physical fasting and I do practice this mental fasting but I never put a name to it. I liked the term and I love the concept. He advocated to start off refraining from criticizing, condemning or complaining for at least one hour every day ( but would really prefer if it could be done for 24 hours).

  • The quality of the reviews and the reviewers for this book underscore the depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding to be gleaned from reading, Think, Be Still & Grow Spiritually.
  • Finally there is one aspect of the evening I felt should have been better: the attendance.

For those who were there, the benefits were multiple. We were treated to an intellectual event, replete with examples of fellowship, leadership and family values.

Some lucky guests received free copies of the new book as well as copies of some of his other books. There was all the celebration worthy of such an occasion.

There was the right balance of story-telling, humour and emotion. Speakers even touched on the topic of sexuality – I am not divulging that one; that is an attendee’s privilege.

We shared in delightful refreshments afterward and there was time for socializing and book signing.



Above: Mr Eden Shand and me!

The book, “Think, Be Still & Grow Spiritually” is available online at, Barnes & Noble and also at Balboa

I leave you with these words:

“Think, Be Still & Grow Spiritually.”

Do you know Mr. Rochford? Have you ever read any of his books? Please share your thoughts about the author or his books.


Right for me, not right for you?

The headlines in one of our local newspaper today highlighted one of my pet peeves: the abuse of position or perceived power.

A former Government minister was fired as a result of alleged abuse of position and power on a different occasion. That time he was accused of inappropriately touching a stewardess as he lunged for her name tag. He admitted to the action but claimed that it was the outcome of fatigue. The threats and aggressive tone would have been attributed to stress and overwork as well.

This time he is being accused of evading Customs on his return from a visit to the nearby island of St Kitts. He was accompanied by his wife and two guests according to the report. The details are given in the newspaper here but the essence of the report is that the former minister and his party left the airport without being cleared at Customs, the man and his wife simply left their passports and declaration forms, then they departed from the airport claiming to be fatigued.

This is, to my mind, an abuse of privilege, if it is indeed true.

Most of the other persons arriving there would have been fatigued. All may have grumbled about having to wait in the long line. People may have grumbled about someone being whisked to the top of the line ahead of them but they would have understood the workings of such benefits of his position.

How difficult would it have been, having already had the advantage of getting to the front of the line, to go through the procedure of checking in at Customs?

Strangely enough, I was just re-gaining some respect for the said gentleman. He had been turning up in cases of compassion lately, even though he no longer held a Ministerial position. I was beginning to attribute it to the nature of the man.

He was present lending support to a family during their time of grief. He was photographed taking part in local sporting events, like an average citizen and he looked contented even though he was no longer in the limelight.

Just before this story broke, there was an article about him competing in a swim meet in St Kitts. I felt happy on reading that article because it indicated to me that there was a greater man behind the facade of a pompous politician.

Then I was greeted by this story in the newspaper.

In trying very hard to be non-judgmental, I examined the situation from different angles. Would I have done the same if I could have? Is there anything wrong with being so tired that you cannot wait a few extra minutes to do what is correct?

I still have a bitter taste in my mouth. Yes, none of us are perfect but as far as is humanly possible we need to stay on the right track. Politicians have a responsibility to lead by example.

Even if they do not care about rules and regulations and believe that they are outside the scope of the law, they need to be concerned about public perception.

They should think about the ripple effect of their actions: what they model for their children to learn, how it affects those within their sphere of influence, how it affects the nation and its image. The long-term effects of the appearance of impropriety, born out of short term thinking could be quite damaging.

We all have actions that can fail the integrity test when put under close scrutiny. This is all the more reason for us to make every effort to pass such tests, especially in seemingly minor matters. Failing such ‘minor’ tests lowers our credibility bar in matters of greater significance.

As it is said, if you can be trusted in small things, then you can be trusted in big things.

What do you think? Should privilege be guarded and cherished or should it be abused? Do you think this is a case of unethical behaviour?