“Democracy, finally, rests on a higher power than Parliament. It rests on an informed and cultivated and alert public opinion. The Members of Parliament are only representatives of the citizens. They cannot represent apathy and indifference. They can play the part allotted to them only if they represent intelligence and public spiritness (sic).” – Dr. Eric Williams

On the eve of independence, Dr. Eric Williams gave us our national watchwords: discipline, production, tolerance. Of these three tenets, tolerance signifies the willingness to understand and respect different opinions. It asks that you acquire discipline, and, perhaps, this will lead to productivity. From this point of view, our society hinges on this principle.

Tolerance should not imply apathy and indifference.

In Trinidad and Tobago, independence means the breakthrough of a people’s convictions; the creation of a post-colonial nation state. To create a nation of many races and cultures means the acceptance of each culture’s significance. It means that the people have had the conviction, gusto and informed thinking to demand their chance at creation; that the people of this nation could move past apathy and indifference and ultimately reject the colonial principles that kept us apart; that our people must strive toward unity and acceptance.

It is one of this great nation’s milestones to have achieved independence. Independence was not an easy battle – we have already celebrated, this year, some of the hallmarks of the journey to independence (emancipation, the end of indentureship). When we celebrate independence, we must, then, celebrate with the same conviction as our ancestors, and remember that independence is the call to keep moving forward.

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