‘Corruption floodgates opened’
By MIRANDA LA ROSE Wednesday, January 9 2013
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APPLAUSE FOR MAX: Students of St Mary's College applaud President George Maxwell Richards (not in photo) who addressed them yesterday during a visit t...
PRESIDENT George Maxwell Richards yesterday pulled no punches as he bluntly told St Mary’s College students, “Corruption is not new in this world, but within recent times, floodgates have opened and there are sadly, too many instances of betrayal of trust!”
Addressing students on the occasion of the Port-of-Spain school’s 150th anniversary since its founding by the Holy Ghost Fathers, Richards said because of corruption and betrayal of trust, “ordinary and hard-working people have lost their life savings to the greed of unscrupulous persons” in the country.
In a half-hour presentation on issues of ethics, morals and values, Richards said, “it seems to me that, more than ever, these three pillars are under heavy siege.” Apart from corruption in Trinidad and Tobago, he said, families were disintegrating and human trafficking is alive and well.
In general statements, Richards said as far as some people are concerned, human life seems to have little value, except as a commodity to be traded.
“So what do we do?” he asked. “Do we like Pontius Pilate wash our hands of the responsibility to influence for the better, so long as our business is fixed so to speak?” Being silent in the face of blatant wrongdoing and allowing the innocent to be condemned as a matter of convenience, he said, “makes us partakers of guilt.”
Morals and ethics, he noted, flow from values which were first learnt at the level of the home. When the right values were not taught at home, he said it becomes very difficult for a person to break out of the mould of all the negative behaviour that accompanies reaching for the wrong goals, with the wrong motives including “money, for the sake of power; power, for the sake of influence and control and a comfortable life, without hard work and diligence.”
Teachers and others who nurture, he said, now have added burden when values were skewed in the home. There can be confusion in the minds of charges who live in two different worlds, and “choices” in terms of doing right and doing wrong, have to be made, he said.
“The argument of being a victim of circumstances will not always hold,” he said noting that “there are some who grow up in privileged circumstances, but are unscrupulous in their behaviour. The opposite is also true.”
The “choice” factor, he said, was the difference. Noting that the responsibility for the upbringing of children does not rest with them, he said, however, “as they grow they must assume responsibility for receiving or rejecting, the guidance, admonition, correction, counsel and sanction given by parents and others in authority over them.”
No country can function without laws to keep people in line, he said, “but laws do not make us who we are.
“The threat of sanction should not be our inspiration to do right. Doing right should be the norm even when no one is watching,” stated Richards. Congratulating the school on its 150th anniversary, Richards said since its establishment, it has earned a reputation as a premier institution of learning, which has been maintained throughout its existence.
St Mary’s College of the Immaculate Conception, best known as “CIC”, he said, has given to this country and other countries where past students live, a quality of life that is borne out of a tradition of excellence in academics and extra-curricular activities.
As a past student of Queen’s Royal College, he noted the rivalry that existed between these two schools on the playing field, particularly at annual football competitions. Whatever the results, he said the teams always respected the results and they always looked forward to the next year’s contest.
“The sheer hostility that we witness today on the playing fields, among some schools,” he said, “presents us with a type of behaviour that is a cause of great distress.”