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Friday 13 December 2019
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Nothing sacred anymore?

Debbie Jacob
Debbie Jacob

FOR SOME TIME I have been struggling to find a way to convey my feelings about the lack of consideration that permeates this country. I finally found it in the front-page stories about the bikini fashion show in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port of Spain, last week.

Those pictures of women in skimpy bikini Carnival costumes evoked extreme emotional reactions of disgust, shock and anger from many people. And just so we are clear on this, all of us would have been equally disturbed with pictures of shirtless men in the church if we had seen those pictures as well.

Sometimes I wonder if this push-button, fast-click, instant-gratification tech world we live in has desensitised people to the point that they don’t stop to consider anyone’s feelings or honour anyone’s beliefs. Is nothing sacred any longer?

Of course there will always be individuals who must push buttons and chuck good taste or good sense aside; so maybe the better question to ask is this: where were the thinking people who should have nixed the whole idea of inappropriate attire in church? Why didn’t they prevail? One would assume they would have been the majority rather than the minority in such a bad decision call.

I have always taken pride in how respectful people are of all religions in this country. To me, this is a marvel duplicated in few – if any – places in the world. Now I wonder to what extent we have respect for other people’s religion. Perhaps many people feel they are paying tribute to different religions by eating roti on Divali or Eid and drinking ponche a creme and eating ham at Christmas. Maybe we’re a lot more superficial than I once thought.

I still can’t help but wonder why no one could stop to think of the people who worship in the Trinity Cathedral? Does anyone think of what sacred spaces mean to those who worship in them? A good rule of thumb is always to think how you want people to treat you or your beliefs.

And what about the models who participated in this “fashion show?” Talk about “follow fashion,” as my children used to say when children blindly followed other children.

Hopefully, there will be stories emerging about some models who practised independent thinking and refused to participate in that show. My message to everyone involved in that fiasco – and anyone in general – is to think long and hard about the principles that are important for all of us to share.

There are certain values that we should all hold sacred: respect for each other, respect for each other’s religion, respect for ourselves, and respect for the professions that we represent.

These are the values that teachers should be stressing in schools and parents should be teaching at home. Unfortunately, schools and parents are more concerned about subjects than values. That’s sad because information changes over time; values don’t. Values are never out of style. They guide us through life. Values are what make us a caring society.

Schools also need to teach the meaning and value of the word “sorry” because it is one of the most abused words in the English language. People feel they can do whatever they want, and if they offer a halfhearted apology, all will be forgiven. But it’s not that easy.

As I used to tell my students, “Sorry is an important word not to be taken lightly.” It’s easy to do what you want without thinking about the consequences and then just say, “Sorry,” as though that erases all the hurt, embarrassment and anger you have caused. Saying sorry usually just seems like a quick, easy fix for a complex problem, and apologies are useless if they don’t come from the heart.

Accepting blame is important, but it is equally important to demonstrate a lesson learned when you mess up. Otherwise, sorry is just another empty word.

People get away with far too much inconsiderate behaviour in this country because more often than not there seems to be no consequences for inappropriate behaviour.

Once a handful of people express righteous indignation over that poor excuse for a fashion show last week, the whole issue will likely blow over. Most of the people in this country never seem to rise to the occasion and speak out collectively when such insensitivity occurs. It’s always a handful people who speak out. Now, the question is can we learn anything from this awful experience?

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