MANY like to think of Lent as a time to atone for the excess of Carnival. But Lent, which began yesterday, is more than this. For Christians, it is a 40-day preparation for Easter, the biggest day of the liturgical calendar. But all, Christians and non-Christians alike, can embrace the season’s themes of reflection and sacrifice.
The dust is now settling on yet another Carnival and most of the results are in. Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, and Skinny Fabulous combined forces to pip Kees Dieffenthaller’s beloved and unique Savannah Grass to the Road March title. Judging from the final figures released by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), the results were not as close as many on the ground had felt they would have been.
Dieffenthaller can stand proud, though, knowing that he made a refreshing contribution to the Carnival repertoire, changing the rhythm of things. Meanwhile, Montano’s tenth road march is notable for being the first to be shared with a non-national. In a way, this perfectly reflects a season in which Carnival’s bringing together of diverse peoples shone brightly.
In this regard, Lent is the perfect opportunity for us to reflect on our multiculturalism, which was so vividly paraded on the streets. We should be grateful for the harmony of our nation, even as we remain mindful of the areas in which there is much room for improvement. What can we do to make our society more inclusive, more just?
Lent is a time for fasting and while not everyone will be giving up meat or chocolate or booze, the idea of sacrifice is a powerful one that we would do well to heed. The season is based on the story of Jesus fasting for 40 days in the desert after his baptism. At its most basic level, the story is a reminder of how we are sometimes required to give up something in order to move forward with our ideals.
As a society, we need to engineer reforms that can move our nation forward. Such reforms require sacrifice from all of us. For example, many businesses have retrenched. But others have offered employees share ownership in exchange for pay freezes. Another example: with the dry season threatening a dangerous water shortage, we will all be required to make cutbacks in our water use.
As we try to address the need for social and economic change, we should be mindful that all of us have a role to play.
Montano’s road march win brings him close to Lord Kitchener’s 11 titles. That itself is a mark of how much our society has changed. This Lent, as we seek even more change, we should ask ourselves: what can we forego in order to make the future bright.