Trini philosophy

Richard Gordon,”always thought we have everything upside down in life: when somebody dies, we should celebrate. When somebody is born, that is the time to be sorrowful.” Photo by Mark Lyndersay
Richard Gordon,”always thought we have everything upside down in life: when somebody dies, we should celebrate. When somebody is born, that is the time to be sorrowful.” Photo by Mark Lyndersay


This feature first appeared in July 2019. It appears today in memory of Richard Gordon, who died last week.

My name is Richard Gordon and I believe Trinidadians are a unique race on this planet.

My father died of a burst appendix, acute appendicitis, when I was five years of age.

So I went to live with my aunt and uncle in Barbados. My mum just couldn’t afford to look after three children. And my aunt and uncle couldn’t have children. My mother said, “Better for them there, than here.”

So my aunt and uncle brought my sister and me up.

I grew up in Barbados. My school years, from five to 17, were at Presentation College.

When I was 17, after I’d finished school, I woke up one morning and told my uncle, “I’m going back to Trinidad.” My mother and brother were in Trinidad.

My sister still lives in Barbados.

From very young, I just viewed things differently from everybody else. I was more concerned about what life was all about than anything else.

I don’t think my father’s death was a traumatic event.

I’ve never looked upon death as a big thing.

When my aunt died, when I was 15, I was walking to a Coney Island that had come to Barbados. And I saw the priest drive up.

I walked to him and said, “My aunt has died.” She hadn’t been sick or anything.

He said, astonished, “How did you know?”

I just knew.

Richard Gordon believed that life is just a movie and we are producers, directors, actors and audience in our own movie. Photo by Mark Lyndersay

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. There really is no such thing as death.

I’ve always thought we have everything upside down in life: when somebody dies, we should celebrate. When somebody is born, that is the time to be sorrowful.

Think about it: when a child is born, it cries! A

And people (in old age) generally die with a smile on their face. They’re contented to go.

The first thing you have to know is who you are. The next thing you have to consider is what your role is.

Life is just a movie and we are producers, directors, actors and audience in our own movie. Everyone who comes into our life, we’ve asked to come in, to play a role, to teach us something.

To become a good actor, you have to play many different roles in many different movies. In some, you may play the hero, in some, the villain – but it’s all just a movie.

Enjoy the role you play, but don’t get attached to it!

My aunt was very religious. She would have the priest in her house two Sundays a month.

But at the age of seven, looking at the priest, I realised there was nothing spiritual about him.

I see Trinidad as a grand experiment of more than a million people of how different races and religions can intermix with each other.

If you had a sampling of what could be done for the world, that, in a sense, is what Trinidad actually is!

There’s something very special about Trinidad for Trinidadians living here and outsiders (appreciate it) : our warmth; our friendliness; the way we lime with each other. The way we respect other people’s religion is unique in the world.

Our mixture of races is unique. Nowhere else has the Indians, the Syrians, the Chinese, the Lebanese, the sheer numbers or range of races and diversity we have.

Let’s face it: since 1990, we have been on the brink of a state of anarchy in Trinidad. Nobody respects the legal system, the politicians, the police service.

And yet we are not in a state of anarchy – and that really means that there are more good Trinidadians than bad Trinidadians. This could all have gone to pot already.

We’ve become numb to (violence). Long time, if somebody was killed, it would be, “Oh, my God!”

In one week, we had 24 people killed and people just, “Ho-hum, okay, 24 people dead.” We’ve become immune to it – but there are still people who are seeing how we can come out of it.

So it’s a test for everybody who’s involved in this “movie” of Trinidad at present. Can we turn it around?

The only way we can turn Trinidad around is if the people themselves begin to protest.

The greatest fear of any ruling sector anywhere in the world is that the masses will recognise their power. If the masses suddenly understand that, it’s a time bomb!

The easiest way to bring down Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, is for people to refuse to buy anything on Amazon!

That reflects back to Trinidad, too: the world is the macro, Trinidad is the micro.

The problem with the “messiah effect” is that we, the people, don’t have to take personal responsibility. We follow you, we praise you, but, if things go wrong, we crucify you.

But each and every Trinidadian has to take responsibility to do the right thing in our daily lives now. We can’t wait for a hero to ride in.

When Kahlil Gibran was asked about crime, he said, “Crime could not be committed without the hidden will of the people.”

If you have a corrupt government, it is because you have a lot of corrupt people.

For Trinidad to change, Trinidadians, as a group of people, have to decide and set the example of how they want things to be.

It starts with the simple things: keep the place clean. Cleanliness is next to godliness. How clean Trinidadians keep the place reflects on how godly Trinidad is.

The 100th-monkey law starts with the monkey on a single island who decides to wash a banana before he eats it. Then another monkey follows his example. Then another.

When you reach the 100th monkey, all the other monkeys on all the other islands begin to wash their bananas.

We are all connected and, once we reach critical mass, everyone is doing it; but it starts with one person deciding to start.

You stop corruption when you decide yourself not to pay a bribe, when you do an honest day’s work. Not slow down and collect more pay for less work!

It starts with one monkey at a time.

History recalls the great people who changed the world for the betterment of everybody.

Not the billionaires. Unless they did something for the betterment of everybody else, not themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with having money – but you have to spend it wisely. For the good of everybody.

People do whatever they want: go through traffic lights in their cars while talking on their phones.

These are the people who must take responsibility for themselves!

When we take the responsibility, and avoid the anarchy, and live within the love, then we become a shining light for the rest of the world. This is our potential.

Leaders have to lead. We want somebody to go out there and put their neck on the line.

But we also have to commit. We have to say, loud and clear, “We are going to support you!” The masses have to come forward and help.

Trinidadians have to let people like the commissioner of police know that they’re going to support him.

A Trini is a spiritual being having a human experience.

Trinidad and Tobago is a classroom for what could be for the betterment of all mankind.


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