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Friday 13 December 2019
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Real Tobago love gone

Bishop Berkley laments lack of community spirit

Bishop Claude Berkley -
Bishop Claude Berkley -

Anglican Bishop Rev Claude Berkley believes one of the most significant challenges confronting TT and many parts of the world is the loss of a sense of community.

He made the statement last Monday while delivering the sermon at the Division of Finance and the Economy's 17th annual Thanksgiving Service at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough.

The event, titled Appreciating the Times and Seasons, formed part of the Division's observance of Finance Month 2019.

Berkley recalled as a boy growing up in Pembroke, east Tobago, the community had love.

"I say had, and I am open to correction," he told the audience.

Berkley recalled that after church on Sundays, he had to get milk for his home.

"While I was going, my hand was filled with bags. I was looking like a little vendor. And everywhere that you dropped off something that your parents sent for somebody, they had to give you something back.

"And so you came home and when you put out all of the things on the kitchen floor, you had what you might call a variety stall. Everybody in the village was looking out for somebody else."

Berkley said while some of the items were for sale, members of the community shared willingly.

"They looked out," he declared.

He observed people are moving away from that sense of community.

"Something has interfered with that. It's not all gone. There is still some of it there but it has been significantly reduced."

Berkley added: "That sense of the reduction of love and community is what is haunting us as a nation, as an island, as a world. And that is the battle that we have."

Reflecting on the theme, the Bishop said Finance Month underscores the philosophy of empowerment and human development. He added this transcended religious and political affiliations.

"Anything contrary to that spells enslavement. If it is one thing, a proud Tobagonian does not want to hear or have or entertain is enslavement."

Berkley said he could not understand why Tobagonians, who have had a history of "open hospitality," are also being accused of exhibiting poor customer service.

"It is always a puzzle to me that we have the harvest festival – that is open hospitality. Yet, if we are serving at some place, we have a problem with serving people because we not sure if you are seeing me as a slave and we have an issue."

He added: "People complain about bad service across Tobago. And I find that a serious contradiction because we are a people of open hospitality.

"So, how could, then, at serving people at different points be an issue. That is something the sociologists and others might tell us."

Berkley also observed a "strong, right-wing brand of politician" has caused a resurgence of racism around the world.

"You think we have made some advances in racism, well, it is coming back. It is taking on a new growth all because there is an attack on migrants and immigrants and in so doing, minority groups.

"So, instead of advances, we are going backwards. And if we do not position ourselves, we in a small island like this, will get knocked about the place too easily."

The situation, he observed, has resulted in a "reduction in religion and the Bible.

"I don't know if you see that is the agenda (of right-wing politicians). Knock our religion. Knock out the Bible then we could do what we want. That, in itself, has caused our values and morals to be fluid and indeterminate."

Berkley observed family life, the school, church and other institutions of influence are under serious strain and, as a result, the quality of life of many communities has deteriorated.

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