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Monday 11 December 2017
Letters to the Editor

Opium of the people

THE EDITOR: “Religion is the opium of the people” is an oft paraphrased quote attributed to the German economist Karl Marx. One can be excused for questioning the validity of that statement here in TT, but one cannot easily dismiss it.

There is a church, mosque or temple on almost every other corner, yet we continue the downward spiral of a failed State and failed people, regardless of race or creed.

Our politicians, statesmen, religious leaders, vendors, street dwellers and everyone in-between claim to belong to one church or group of belief systems, yet here we are as a people in this place and at this time in our history.

Another well-known proverb is “Nearer the church, further from God.” Yet again, if these words do not float in and out of your mind in our current situation, you too may be a robot of your particular tribal group identification.

Just look around this country where everyone has a religion of choice yet there is so much chaos. We must stop and ask ourselves: Are we on the brink of anarchy? Are we the people of the “Trinity” really serious about who we claim to be as nationals of this suffering yet amazing country? Each individual must begin to question themselves and take responsibility for what they say they believe.

We must also question our church leaders. Priests, pastors, pundits and imams must be at the ready to dig deeper into the refined truths of the word of their particular faith and doctrine and call their people into a deeper sense of what it truly means to be a human being created by the one God, whatever you call Him. If not, they too will have to answer for misleading the people and feeding them a diet of white bread that fills but does not satisfy their hunger for real food; the kind of food that in the Christian tradition Jesus called Peter to give to his lambs and sheep.

It is evident that the problems we face in families, institutions and the country as a whole could not just be problems that can be whitewashed with the idea of fixin’ TT. TT cannot be fixed unless this country is willing, as a whole, to become converted and transformed people who are true “lights of the world” and “salt of the earth.”

It is time for the spotlight to be turned on the religious “authorities” in this land. “Where have you failed God’s people and why have you held back the deeper truths that can begin turning them into that deeper sense of their own worth, identity and, yes, even divinity? The people made in the image and likeness of their Creator and a living example to the rest of the world.”

It is my assertion as well that part of this responsibility to grow remains with the people themselves. We love religion and belonging to systems that we can identify with. Some love to clap and swing and sway in their various expressions of heightened worship, building on emotional highs that bear little, temporary fruit; not to mention the thousands of different rituals attributed to all of the different groups.

However, unless my religion helps me to understand that the real purpose of the religion “bus” is to assist in getting me to that final destination of relationship, a relationship that exists here and now and continues in the hereafter, then my religion would have failed me.

If through ongoing conversion what I do and say do not come more and more from a place of divine love, lived in relationship with the living God of love, light and truth, and not from my own agitated and impoverished ego, then I may very well be a “self-opiumated” person.

JACQUI-THERESA LEIBA via e-mail

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