PRESIDENT Paula Mae Weekes set an encouraging tone for her presidency on Monday. Much like the colours she opted to wear, she was judicious. Amid the myriad confusions and obfuscations we find ourselves in, she was black and white.
“It is a marathon, folks!” the President – herself a long-distance runner – declared.
We applaud Weekes’ decision to present an unflinching assessment of the state of the nation. Far from existing in cloisters, she demonstrated her familiarity with the plight of the ordinary woman and man in the street.
“Crime, corruption, racism, abysmal public services and an ineffective judicial system, among other problems, are so thick on the ground, that all hope is lost; that we will soon be, if we are not already there, a failed state, however defined,” she said. This assessment is powerful coming from someone with her breath of experience.
At the same time, Weekes did not present a picture of doom and gloom. She gave us hope, reminding us that change will not come overnight but over the long run.
“Whether we set off with a burst of speed or at a crawl there will come periods in which we fade and have to employ the just-to-the-next-lamppost strategy as we soldier on,” Weekes said. “But there will also be unexpected surges of energy when we are able to propel ourselves forward with extraordinary vigour. We must not become weary. We must trust that in time we will reap the benefits of our efforts.”
Weekes’ own appointment to the presidency is an example of one such surge forward. Trinidad and Tobago can now boast of having had a female leader in all the major political offices. This is something even some of the world’s most powerful countries, such as the United States, are yet to achieve.
The President’s challenge to citizens “to be light and see light” is one we should all strive to take on. “Get to work on time, actually do work while you are there and go the extra mile if need be,” she advised. Imagine what kind of transformation we would witness if that became our modus operandi.
Ultimately, the new President has made it clear that while faith is necessary, “without action it is useless.”
“A flickering candle can be as effective as a blazing bushfire in the right environment. Be a light in your home, instil discipline, model good behaviour,” our sixth President said. Her own actions demonstrate she is ready to practise what she preaches. As should we.