By Courtenay Barnett
Dear beloved we are gathered once more at the altar of the Almighty truth.
Today’s sermon is entitled ‘Lessons from my mother’. It concerns the building of character and the importance of personality development as each of us mature and advance through life. The list is not intended to be exhaustive but hopefully is instructive. These were the lessons I learned from my mother ( long since deceased but still lovingly recalled):-
- One should tell the truth and not lie.
- There should be room for compassion, in one’s thoughts and deeds.
- There should be understanding on several levels. One such is for an understanding of our human differences as to our different human features; the tolerance of different cultures and religions. In short we should not be ‘racists’.
- By extension of cultural and religious tolerance we should not be xenophobic.
- We should show humanitarian decency and not mock others less fortunate than ourselves in life and show understanding about poverty, need and uninvited suffering which either our fellow human beings are born into or which at some uninvited point in life befalls them.
- In our professional work and/or business life we should be honest.
- Our language should be modest, tempered and balanced and restrained to give consideration to and for the person(s) we are addressing and the situation(s) in which we speak.
- In our success, if we are so fortunate, we should be humble and modest, and should not be braggadocios.
- In our failures we should be willing to accept our shortfalls and/or failings giving rise to same and be instructed by our mistakes. We should always accept personal responsibility when it is our action to be blamed and not seek to transfer blame to the blameless other(s).
- One should have a sense of humour and be able to laugh at one’s self when stupid mistakes are made.
These are ten injunctions to help guide one through life by application of sound, sensible thoughts and proper and appropriate actions. Those who are Christian know of the Ten Commandments. But, these are ten injunctions learnt from my mother via her words as well as her conduct and consequential examples taught to me throughout her life, which are intended both for the ‘churched’ and the ‘unchurched’ alike; in other words, I believe that my mother’s lessons can usefully be applied by all of humanity.
And, then I thought, whether there is one human being dead or alive who represents the epitome and opposite of my mother’s lessons.
I reflected from my early childhood through to school and higher education and business and professional life. So far no such person.
Then, I thought about friends and associates in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. No such person.
Then I reflected on Canada and there was still no such person who came to mind.
I went as far as historical figures and contemporary leaders and I began getting a bit closer.
Finally, I reflected on the United States of America and there I found the perfect match. The thought then sprang to mind, that if I could ask but one question, it would be this:-
“ Please Mrs. Trump, when you were raising your son, Donald, could you kindly share with us – what lessons did you actually teach him?”
So endeth my sermon for today.
* COURTENAY BARNETT is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over thirty years, has been arrested for defending his views, has been subjected to death threats, and has argued public interest and human rights cases. He lives and works in the Caribbean.