My dear citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, ”Father’s pride is a special feeling that is most often shared by those who have a father who has listened, loved and cared”. (Anon)
These words by an anonymous poet are a reminder to all of us that Father’s Day, which we celebrate on 15 June 2014, is an appropriate opportunity to reflect critically on the vital importance of the role of the father and father figure in our society.
The influence and contribution of adult males today are of paramount importance to the holistic development and aspirations of the family unit and society in general. The commitment to, and practise of, responsible actions by the father figure is a crucial element of success in the realisation of a young ward’s personal development.
The father should be a mentor, protector, and a harbinger of peace both inside and outside the home. His good example is essential to the well-being of the family and, by extension, the entire community. It is not enough to give advice to a younger person when our actions do not reflect our words.
We lead best by example and the impact of the example we choose to promote whether conscious or unconscious; good or bad, is the legacy that will either haunt us or enrich or lives in the future. The time has come for the men in our society to be in the vanguard of renewal and progress by reclaiming their role and status as advisors, teachers, leaders and protectors.
It is time that our men, and boys who will soon be men, appreciate the importance of the reality that their charges look up to them for care and guidance during the critical years of their development. It is your special influence that will encourage them to illuminate their lives by thought, word, and deed and improve their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
Our society today is beleaguered by the many challenges that have been brought on by exposure to new technologies, outside influences and the rapidly developing changes to our customary way of life. Our fathers must reclaim their rightful positions of responsibility and leadership that our children expect from them.
You are well aware that some weeks ago I launched the ‘National Conversation’. This initiative is geared to listening to the concerns and suggestions of the citizenry. I call on all men of the Republic to join together in solidarity and to express fully their thoughts, hopes, dreams, concerns, and needs so that my government may understand fully how best to channel the support that will ensure the well-being of you and your families.
Positive parenting is a shared responsibility but you need to step up to the plate to make certain that you play a decisive role in the achievement of our collective prosperity. Our men must permit themselves to become more self-propelling in the development and fulfillment of all human potential. Leadership and democracy engender true participation and a sense of responsibility to society.
When our collective culture is degraded, confidence and security are imperilled. Success is not the result of chance. We must create our own success. We must engage each other with new eyes; new ways of thinking; new ways of dialogue. Men are special and sacred and critically comprise the human partnership.
As we observe and celebrate this special day for fathers, I should like to express my sincere admiration to the men of our Republic, who through their commitment and dedication deserve the title of ‘father’. I commend you all for your selfless contribution to the overall development of that special unit, the family. I call on you now to revitalise your support for our national agenda – prosperity for all.
Fathers you are the first line of defense of the national family. You, the soldier citizens of our young Republic, must be men of faith; and faithful men of courage; faithful to yourselves and truth, faithful to your families and communities; faithful to your environment, faithful to your purpose and responsibility; and faithful to your God and country. Fathers, and would be Fathers, you must be the positive difference you wish to see for Trinidad and Tobago. This collective resolve will revolutionize the state of well-being of our fledgling democracy and auger well for the future of our nation.
You must be the kind of Father, you want your son to be! Your mission must be peace. As you pursue this vision, please know, that your women folk and your children look to you with hopeful expectations of Truth and Beauty. Know that we look to you for your unique leadership and know that together, as a united people, with common goals and faith in a future of prosperity for all, we will, with God’s grace, achieve all our goals for the benefit of those under our care and for all the people of this beloved island Republic.
In the words of the great statesman, Nelson Mandela, whom we honour and celebrate in July, ”What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Fathers, thank you for being your best selves. I extend best wishes on behalf of my government, and all citizens of goodwill, to the fathers of our nation. Happy Father’s Day and may God continue to bless and guide you in all of your important tasks!
Kamla Persad-Bissessar,S.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago