The statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Marian Shrine, in Laventille, was recently decapitated by a lightning strike. This happened just one day after celebrating the hundredth appearance of Virgin Mary in a field in Fatima, Portugal.

Some people interpreted this as an act of god, a sign from heavens that our Maker is angry.

In the USA, when lighting recently struck the White House people filled Twitter saying God was sending a signal to President Trump. Psalm 29:7 states, “The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning”.

From Occam’s razor analysis the most plausible explanation is lightening strikes the highest objects. The 62- feet tall “touchdown” Jesus statue in Ohio was destroyed by lightening in 2010 and Rio’s famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue had its fair share of hits.

To certain born-again Christians, religious statues are idols and have no place in worship, but to others they have great symbolic significance.

Some of our indigenous citizens might wonder why the Columbus statue did not suffer a similar fate. The debate on its removal remains an issue. I think we can leave it but have a plaque expressing Columbus was responsible for the genocide of a people.

We can build a statute of our indigenous Amerindian Chief Hyarima at the Red House which covers an Amerindian archaeological site.

It is ironic the same Columbus who decimated the “pagans and heathens natives,” brought Christianity to these shores.

Three members of Parliament, one senator, two councillors, two members of the clergy and workers from the Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT) engineering department visited the site.

The question now arises, is it that taxpayers dollars are to be used to repair a church?

What about separation of church from state?

The Catholic church is actually the richest religion in the world and owns some of the greatest art works ever made. It also has vast gold deposits and billions of dollars in assets.

On June 20, 2019, when people broke in and destroyed nine murtis at the Shree Ram Dhaam Hindu Temple in Diego Martin, former Trinidad Tobago High Commissioner to India, Pundit Manideo Persad said, “The suspects were aiming to set the entire temple on fire. It is abhorrent that a temple, with a presence in this community for almost 40 years, should be attacked.”

Pundit Tewari also lamented that this was not an isolated event.

In June 2018, the Lower Mc Bean Hindu Mandir in Couva suffered a similar fate.

I hope citizens can now rest assured that any damage to other holy places will receive the same attention, least persons feel certain religious organisations receive preferential treatment in this land.

I am not sure the assembly of such esteemed people were really needed to check the statue.

I also await the Minister of Health to educate his colleagues the same way he did to Ms Samantha Ramischand.

Was the gathering absolutely necessary? Could the pledges have been made from home? Is it worth risking their own and other lives? Using Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s words were they “worshipping on the altar of stupidity”?

We need all these hard-working MPs to remain COVID free to serve us for the next five years .

This statue has graced the presence of the area and I congratulate these donations but there are living breathing persons right around the area who are in need of food, medicine and laptops for their children who have been waiting for the MOWT to deal with drainage, land slippage, major pot holes preventing access their homes. They may feel a statue is receiving more attention than them.

Real lives matter not pieces of stone .

Visit rape victims, pray and pay for counselling services which are woefully inadequate.

Victims of crime, children who lost parents to domestic violence and suicide recently would feel a sense of support for scheduled visits from members of such a prestigious team.

We have an aging population and certain landmarks help retain our memory.

I still remember as a school boy going to Woolworth, Bata, Kirpalanis and Smith and Alfred.

I was dismayed when we were not able to stop the destruction of the almost 200 year old Greyfriars Church on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.

Diane Barthel, in Historic Preservation: Collective Memory and Historic Identity, said, “Religious structures play a specially significant part in the collective memory as places where moments in personal history become part of the flow of collective history. This collective history transcends individual experiences and lifetimes.”

Yes we need the statue but real lives matter too.

Editor’s note: The two PNM MPs and the party’s PRO, who visited the Laventille Shrine to survey the damage done to the Our Lady of Fatima statue by a lightning strike, pledged $2,500 each towards the repair. An assessment is being done to the statue to determine the cost of repairs or whether the statue should be replaced entirely.

MP Foster Cummings did indicate on the visit to the shrine that he expected members of the public and parishioners of the Roman Catholic Church to contribute to the cost of the repairs.