Elections in my dear beloved country of Trinidad and Tobago is set for May 24 and it is providential that the General Elections take place in Pentecost week. The Feast can be a harbinger of good for the nation, an inspiration to a brand new government or one returned with a fresh mandate.
Pentecost is a great equaliser. The Feast recalls the occasion when a large crowd of Jews from various parts of the then known world gathered in Jerusalem and were filled with the Holy Spirit. Although each person spoke in his native tongue, they could clearly understand what the other was saying.
In these elections lie the possibility of giving hope to a people in dire need of it, of making hope not just another catchword, but an expectation born out of a realisation that those who govern act according to principles of integrity and honesty. Our leaders will sustain hope when they recognise the contribution that each citizen can make to the development of the country and are intent on creating the environment to allow this to happen.
The elections give those who are elected to lead the opportunity to pursue a new approach to the way the country is governed and thereby influence how each citizen behaves at home, at work and in the community.
But Pentecost is also about the unexpected. Although Jesus promised the disciples that the Spirit would come, they had no way of knowing what the experience would be like, how that Spirit, the Advocate, would empower those without knowledge or ability to perform acts that would change lives and the course of history. The Spirit does blow where it wills.
That promise which has driven Christianity from the beginning gives us the assurance that we do not face the future alone; that God will always be with us. Jesus says, “I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever” (John 14: 16).
The population should not expect that all difficulties – whether these relate to crime, unemployment or the provision of healthcare and other services, or land tenure – would be swept away by a new government. Jesus tells his disciples that they should expect problems (cf John 16).
But, the people of Trinidad and Tobago should insist on good governance of the nation. Democracy does not end with elections, even when they are free and fair. Those who form the Government and those on the Opposition bench must treat their responsibilities with utmost seriousness, as if given to them by God. We must also hope for a strong Opposition. In a democracy, following the Westminster parliamentary system, the Opposition’s role cannot be underestimated.
“There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them” (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6).