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President Paula-Mae Weekes delivers an address during the National Day of Prayer yesterday.

RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT

President Paula-Mae Weekes yesterday admitted she did not shed a tear when Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced a State of Emergency because she had to accept something unpleasant had to happen in order to curb the current spread of the COVID-19 virus across the country.

In a brief address at the National Day of Prayer, Weekes said, “We come together again to call on divine help during another dark period. Last Saturday, when I heard the Honourable Prime Minister announce during a media conference that as of midnight, Trinidad and Tobago would be under a State of Emergency, I didn’t shed a tear, but I did emit a deep sigh of resignation. It was clear to me, as to many, that we had been inching our way steadily there and I asked myself rhetorically “why did we have to get to this point?” Weekes said.

However, Weekes said in large part, the current situation was due to “the somewhat schizophrenic nature of us Trinbagonians.”

“We exhibit the disorder in its classic dictionary definition — “a breakdown between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation” — in other words “a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements,” Weekes said.

“Is one of the reasons for our present critical circumstances an identity crisis? Naturally, as individuals, we subscribe to different ideologies, live in varied conditions, have divergent points of view, are of sundry ethnicities and have other distinctions, but people, we are first and foremost Trinbagonians, members of one body. Whether we are of Indian or African descent, belong to the 1% or the 99%; supporters of UNC, PNM or none of the above; whether Trinidadian or Tobagonian; faithful or faithless, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and neither can we.”

Weekes made it clear that our present dire situation does not allow for selfish individualism, political agenda, vulgar profiteering, wild conspiracy theories, spreading disinformation or practised laissez-faire attitudes.

“The long reach of the COVID-19 virus has taught us starkly the age-old lesson that we are our brother’s keeper. We are all vulnerable to being infected and/or affected by COVID-19. If we don’t already, we will all soon know someone who has had, or sadly, died, from the virus,” Weekes said.

“Unless we are ever-vigilant, it will invade every enclave, sanctuary and safe harbour that we make for ourselves. If we are to repel the virus, we will need to be not only our brother’s keeper, but our granny’s, our neighbour’s, our colleagues’, our grocer’s, our taxi drivers’ and fellow passengers’; keepers of our valiant, long-suffering and exhausted healthcare workers; even the keepers of absolute strangers.”

Weekes said she remembered being young and restless and so understood many of the citizens might feel like life is leaving them behind.

“But trust me, there will be time enough in the future. As Ecclesiastes tells us “For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” There will be a time to laugh, dance and embrace. But for now, for the common good, we must refrain.”

Directly addressing those of faith, Weekes said, “We are thankful for the many mercies that we have received as individuals and nation, even in the midst of uncertainty and sorrow. And we ask the Almighty for grace, favour, healing and comfort as we attempt to bring the virus under control. Some of us might be discouraged by not seeing tangible results from our prayers. I ask you not to become weary but to renew your strength and believe in the sovereignty of the Creator.

“For those of you who do not subscribe to prayer, I invite you to use this day as one of quiet reflection to consider the ways in which you can do your part to restrict the spread of the virus, to show compassion to those who are suffering and to contemplate the interconnectedness of all, whether believer or non-believer.”