Commentary By Colin Rickards
CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. May 14, 2009: It seems a sad commentary on public life that the Privy Council in Britain has found against the name of Trinidad and Tobago’s highest Order, The Trinity Cross on the grounds that it can offend non-Christian religious sensibilities.
Did they even bother to consider that the very name Trinidad is the Spanish word for Trinity? What`s next? Will they have to head legalistic submissions to change the name of the nation?
The agitation against The Trinity Cross has been that the two words are disrespectful to the nation’s Hindus and Muslims – Trinity because it has Christian over and undertones and Cross due to perceived similar connotations.
As far as I can see, there appears to be two separate but connected issues at work here: Trinity and Cross- and the latter seems to be the most trivial, and easily disposed of.
A cross is the bisecting of two lines. It’s as simple as that. There are many kinds. Crosses of various designs were used by people of the Stone Age for decoration, as they were by the Ancient Egyptians, the ancient Chinese, the Persians and Native North Americans, since time immemorial.
Were the Cross used in the design of The Trinity Cross to be longer vertically than horizontally, I might have a problem with it. The religious symbolism would be there, and it would be construed as a Latin Cross, which is the proper name of the cross used in Christianity.
However, the design of The Trinity Cross does not use a Latin Cross. It is based on a Greek Cross with the vertical and horizontal `arms` of equal lengths, and is in harmony with many Orders and Medals around the world.
The Victoria Cross, last won by a British soldier of Grenadian birth in Iraq, is the Commonwealth’s highest decoration for bravery. I am certainly not aware that the gallant Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, who have won it over the years ever had a problem with either the word or the design.
Trinity may be more difficult, since the word means Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
However, the very name of the country, Trinidad, means the same.
On July 31, 1498, after crossing the Atlantic, Christopher Columbus began to turn northward towards islands he had `discovered` on earlier voyages.
He knew roughly where he was, unlike his First Voyage six years earlier, when he didn’t know where he was going, didn’t know where he was when he got there, and when he returned home was unable to say where he had been.
At noon, his servant, Alonso Perez, climbed into the crow’s nest, scanned the horizon and excitedly reported sighting land, which `appeared to be in the form of three rocks or mountains,` according to the priest Bartolome de Las Casas, who transcribed parts of Columbus’ now lost Log.
As the fleet sailed westward it was realized that there were not three landforms, but one, and Columbus `named this land `la ysla de la Trinidad.`
Prime Minister Patrick Manning said on one occasion that a new name will be found for The Trinity Cross, and I hear that Order of Trinidad is being considered.
However, it does seem a bit dull and rather begs the question: As Trinidad means Trinity, the Order of Trinidad might be just as contentious as its predecessor, taking the squabble Trinity to an illogical conclusion. Maybe someone will come up with a demand that the very name of the country should also be changed.
The Caribs called it `Iere,` but the Republic of Iere and Tobago does not seem to roll easily off the tongue. Political Correctness has value, but carried to an extreme is something of which to be wary of.