The State of Emergency was just a few hours old when we were reminded yesterday that discipline is not one of the things we are collectively known for.
A religious group felt that one of the best ways to save the nation was to gather on Harris Promenade in San Fernando to pray for God to rescue this country from the COVID-19 virus.
While we agree with the need for prayer, it’s clear that those gathered there yesterday failed to understand that had they done so privately in their homes, they would have been praying safely and acting lawfully with the same objective.
It is difficult to understand why they felt God would hear their voices in an open public space, louder than he would have heard them in their houses.
Their actions brought a police response, which, thankfully, ended without confrontation, despite at least one member of the group calling the wrath of God down on the officers.
This should not be happening one day after the worse week this country has faced in the pandemic, in which 73 people died and 2,777 were infected with the virus.
As the biblical book of Ecclesiastes notes, to everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Yesterday was simply not the time nor season for a public prayer gathering.
Religious leaders wield a lot of influence over their congregations and must use this opportunity to guide members to uphold the laws.
To do otherwise is to encourage indisciplined actions, which goes against most religious teachings.
And the call now must not only be to obey the law but to unite with all frontline workers in fighting this dread virus.
Discipline and restraint is a clear way of demonstrating such unity as shown by the business community on Friday which called on the government to implement a curfew among tougher measures.
The Chamber of Industry and Commerce and other businesses that made the call, signalled to the nation that they understand the safety of all citizens must come first.
Their call came on the heels of other businesses – which are allowed to remain open under the regulations – choosing to voluntarily suspend their rights to continuing operations.
That too, demonstrated unity and discipline, thereby further reducing opportunities for gatherings to the benefit of their staff and customers.
It has always been up to us as individual and corporate citizens to join the fight by doing the right thing. The actions required are not gargantuan. We are all simply being asked to follow simple guidelines.
The State of Emergency now gives the police and soldiers opportunities to more swiftly suppress illegal gatherings and other actions that are not in keeping with the safety rules.
On every occasion that these officers are called to do so, they too are putting themselves at risk. We must be disciplined enough to resist the stupid ideas of curfew parties and sneaky gatherings and those so minded must be made to understand that a firm suppression of their actions by police and soldiers is supported by the large majority of citizens.
We can only get back to our usual life if we follow the procedures.
As of yesterday, the number of deaths for the month of May alone – 116 – was just four short of all deaths registered in 2020.
If that does not sink in, what else will?