Preaching judge – Don't turn blind eye to corruption, dysfunction in TT
JUSTICE Frank Seepersad has called on citizens not to condone corruption.
Seepersad, a guest speaker, was delivering the sermon at the Susamachar Presbyterian Church, San Fernando, which celebrated its 152nd anniversary, on Sunday.
“As a body of Christ followers, we cannot continue to condone corruption, the lack of accountability or turn a blind eye to obvious dishonest conduct because of ethnic or political allegiances.
“Now is the time for the Church to stand up and defend righteous living and its voice must be heard and must resonate within the Republic,” he told a packed congregation.
He said the Church should not ask citizens to stop dwelling on negativity in the country but must point out “prevailing deficiencies and societal injustices” which caused the negativity, while encouraging all citizens to hold leaders and decision makers, “who defile, disrespect and disregard their oaths of office,” to account.
“From our pulpits, the dysfunction which is manifest in almost every facet of national life has to be highlighted and condemned as the faithful is encouraged to modify their behaviour.
“...The lines between that which is right and wrong have been blurred and there now exists evident moral dysfunction and the decline of ethics and behaviour.”
Seepersad, a High Court judge, also spoke on gender equity and equality and the role of the Church.
“Gender equality does not imply that men and women are the same but that they have equal value and must be accorded equal treatment. God deplores discrimination and he encourages oneness and sameness before His throne of grace.
“The Church needs to be vocal in the call for gender equity and must urge society to reset the patriarchal mind-set which far too often sexualises and objectifies our women, subjects them to economic exploitation and confines them to traditional stereotypical roles.
“Most importantly, the Church must now speak the truth to this society which lives in an illusion.”
He said in Trinidad and Tobago, citizens huddled together in packs, sought mutual reinforcing opinions and only read material and media reports that fuelled partisan or insular agendas.
“Conspiracy theories abound and red herrings are usually cast by those in authority to distract and deflect from the germane, systematic and systemic problems which plague us.”
He said it was the Church’s job to identify the illusions, remove and shatter its façade and replace them with positions of “truth and uncompromising integrity.”
According to Seepersad, “The Church must question and expose the propaganda of politicians, the greed of business owners, the failings within our justice system, the bias agendas of media power brokers, the smart man nature of many citizens and the hate and intolerance which we display to those who are different from us.
“Truth needs to resonate from our pulpits as we dispel the erroneous narrative, that, ‘all is well.’”
The judge issued a challenge to the Church to initiate “difficult conversations about fiscal accountability, the equitable distribution of national resources and the mitigation of corrupt practices.”
“Our congregations must be encouraged to earnestly strive towards effecting reunification among the races that make up this Republic and this mandate will require constant commitment which is focused upon the reintroduction of a God-fearing culture which emphasises adherence to God's will and Word.
“The Church’s mission must include the re-engineering of behaviour which prioritises the love for honest and honourable living which is fashioned after the work and witness of the perfect example of leadership, friendship and empathy that is Christ Jesus,” he also urged.
“The people we love, the people in our congregations, our families, the people in our social and political groups, cannot continue to live in a state of denial, blinded by the deceptive illusion that here, in this small space, that ‘all ah we is one’ and everything ‘is irie’ because ‘God is ah Trini.
“This false narrative that ‘things not so bad’ and the complacency which it has engendered is literally threatening the integrity of our democracy and destroying the fabric of the society.”
Seepersad also advocated for all citizens, not only the Church, to start the difficult conversations with an aim to “replace divisive discourse with positions of inclusivity.”
“A no-tolerance approach to corruption must also be adopted.”
Touching on the crime situation, he said it did not happen “just so.”
“It is the result of years of social neglect, selfishness, greed, disenfranchisement, ill-advised policies and our collective refusal to leave our comfortable spaces to assist the less fortunate or to give of our talents towards genuine and selfless national service.”
As he quoted scriptures to reinforce his message, Seepersad urged everyone to “ commit to telling the truth about our current circumstance” for a better country.
“We cannot always act on a national scale, but we can take charge of our homes and social circles. We can begin by living out our hopes at home, by seeing each other not through the lens of ethnicity or partisanship but as equal children of God.”
Although acknowledging that it appeared that hoped had faded, he asked why, but surmised that, “Sadly, one love is not as prevalent as it should be and most issues are seen not from the perspective of ‘right versus wrong’ but from a destructive ‘us against them’ stance.”
“Friends, we stand at the crossroads. This is a difficult moment in our journey as a young Republic… "
However, he assured that, "Hope is not lost and it is not too late. We have the potential to achieve great things and the flowers will bloom again.”
Seepersad also chose the Susamachar's anniversary to laud the achievements of the Presbyterian Church in education.
“Over the last week our schools excelled and special congratulations must be extended for the winning of the lion’s share of scholarships.”
"Preaching judge – Don’t turn blind eye to corruption, dysfunction in TT"