Message From His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC, President Of The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago And Chief Scout
On The Occasion Of The 105th Founder’s Day Celebration Service
of The Scout Movement of Trinidad and Tobago
At The Susamachar Church, San Fernando – March 10, 2017
This morning my cup overfloweth. However, in the last few weeks, the cup was running dry because of what was happening to our young people in Trinidad and Tobago. Rachel Ramkissoon, a brilliant student and a beautiful flower of this Nation was brutally murdered by cold blooded a killer or killers and shortly afterwards, Abiela Adams, a promising national footballer was also brutally murdered. When I went to Abiela’s humble family home, I asked, “How could they do this to such decent people and a young girl with such great potential?” And when I thought there was going to be a respite, two relatives of mine from Siparia, a well-loved mother and her daughter were also brutally murdered, I suffered quietly until I heard her son stated at their funeral that if his mother was alive today, she would have forgiven those who murdered her. This whole message and idea of mercy and forgiveness resonated this morning in the messages of Reverend Kendrick Sooknarine of the Susamachar Presbyterian Church, Imam Mifti Ahmed, Pundit Vejakimar Maharaj and Sister Janet of the Christian Faith. They all spoke about doing good without engaging reciprocity and it was Pundit Maharaj who left an eternal message with all the Scouts this morning, when he spoke of “Sewah’ from the holy Sanskrit, which when translated means selfless service. I can relate to that personally. In my life’s stewardship, I have always been about service leadership, not power leadership.
This morning, I was further renewed, by the higher purpose of Scouting, stated in today’s 2017 thanksgiving booklet. “Scouting is the promotion of the Kingdom of God, that is, the rule of peace and goodwill on earth. In the Scouts each form of Religion is respected and its active practice encouraged and through the spread of our brotherhood in all countries, we have the opportunity in developing the spirit of mutual goodwill and understanding.” All the denominational symbols of all our practising religions are in concentric circles on the programme with the symbol of the scout movement in the middle. This morning we have every right to be hopeful. We must not allow ourselves to be burdened or become despondent because of that toxic minority operating in all spheres of our society. The majority of people in Trinidad and Tobago are good and righteous and we righteous men and women must not lose our sense of vision, hope and love because of that toxic minority.
The Scout Movement, over the last 105 years, has engaged in providing yeomen service to the young people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The impact that scouting has on our young charges is not the result of happenstance. Through your various mentorship and training programmes you all have moulded and harnessed young, critical minds. The Scout movement has been a stellar entity that has always emphasised a meaningful education, survival skills and most importantly a philosophy that encapsulates a sound, strong, ethical character and conduct, dignity, integrity, pride, loyalty, obedience, gallantry and trust. As Chief Scout, it fills me with immense pride to be a part of such a progressive and real transformational movement.
Looking back, the original scout laws were inspired by the Bushido code of the Japanese Samurai, Laws of Honour of the American Indians, the Code of chivalry of European knights, and the Zulu fighters. To be blunt, the scout laws represent a road map for the realisation of the holistic society we seek. In that regard, I feel that we must have a continuing dialogue on the tenets of the Scout laws, ensuring that they are implemented and actualised in our daily lives, in our classrooms, in our schools, in our communities and on the very streets that we walk.
A SCOUT’S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED. This remains as relevant and valuable today as it was 100 years ago. If a scout says “On my honour, it is so,” that means it is so. Your word is your bond and this must not become a matter of convenience or circumstance.
A SCOUT’S DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL AND TO HELP OTHERS. If we all think of others before ourselves, there is indeed no doubt that this country of ours will be in a much better place. As Lord Baden-Powell said “We must change boys from a ‘what can I get’ to a ‘what can I give’ attitude. In Scouting you are combating the brooding of selfishness.” In other words, we must stop asking ourselves what’s in it for me? We must stop singing Beyonce’s Song, “Me, Myself and I” in our personal lives.
A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL, AND A BROTHER TO EVERY OTHER SCOUT, NO MATTER TO WHAT SOCIAL CLASS THE OTHER BELONGS. If there ever was a time when we needed to be our brothers’ keeper, it is now. The laws of scouting remind us that we must look out for one another, big or small, every creed and race. We must individually and collectively ask ourselves are we really doing this in Trinidad and Tobago? Look at for example, that neglected demographic, the differently abled.
A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS. So many simple things have fallen away from our society. What is wrong with saying “Please and thank you”? What is wrong with saying “Good morning, good evening, Sir, Ma’am.” As scouts, it is your duty to bring these things back to our everyday language and social discourse.
A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES, Be happy in all things. Remember a smile is contagious and it cheers you and cheers other people.
And most importantly, A SCOUT IS CLEAN IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED. This must not only take place when we agree but when we disagree.
We must all recognise that disagreement is a facet of our daily lives and from where I have sat as a Prosecutor, as a Criminal Judge and where I now sit as President, I have observed we are not very good at resolving disputes and conflict in our personal spaces. In keeping with my solution oriented life philosophy, last year, I invited the Mediation Board of Trinidad and Tobago to the Office of the President together with representatives of the Scouts, Girl Guides, Cadets and Red Cross, with a view to creating a symbiotic and collaborative relationship that would result in all members of these organisations becoming leaders in Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in their homes, schools and communities. With the guidance and assistance of the Mediation Board of Trinidad and Tobago, training modules of mediation and ADR can be an important social component in the education of all Scouts. I am heartened by the progress made so far in realising my dream of transforming our society through the power of youth influence, to a society that is meditative rather than combative, a society that not only hears but listens, a society that does not state problems but creates solutions.
The lessons embedded in the character of each scout in the scouting fraternity must be diffused into our society in its entirety and if this is done successfully, it has the potential to bring about revolutionary and transformational change and help us at the end of the day to be better citizens. I urge all Scouts to remain firm in your resolve and your mandate “Creating a better world” and soldier on. Compassion and kindness remain the hallmark of a good scout who ensures that no one is left behind. Be that change that we seek in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It will be a challenge, you will often have to stand alone. So many of us hide in the comfort of the herd or what is popular and sometimes what is popular is simply wrong. In your fight to create a better world, remember those who want change want things to remain the same. To every Scout, to every troop leader, I am convinced from the bottom of my heart, my soul and my mind that if the Scout Movement and Scouts are given the required resources and support they will not only make a difference in Trinidad and Tobago, they will be THE difference.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.