I found this passage when I was researching a plantation-owning family in Trinidad. The author is Gerard Besson, a cultural researcher from the island. Here is describing how the agricultural sector of the economy has changed since the Second World War, although the changes had been cumulative since the Abolition of Slavery in 1833. The whole article is interesting reading and appropriate the day following the feast of Joseph the Worker, here leading his family to Egypt.
An important factor that has impacted on identity was the end of the agricultural sector. (Besson means a diverse agriculture which has largely given way to big sugar plantations.)
People see the agricultural sector from the perspective of today. And they only see Indian people – the world of the cane farmer. In truth, the agricultural sector in the past was enormous. It included a lot of black and French Creole and mixed people. It existed for some 200 years. But the ending of the agricultural sector was one of the things that undermined notions of identity which were built through the 19thcentury and into the first half of the 20th century.
One of the effects of the loss of the agricultural sector is a more compassionless society. Because when you have hundreds of thousands of people, whether they are Indian people, white people, mixed people or African people, who are devoted to the bringing up of livestock, who are devoted to gardening, market gardening, vegetable planting, to cocoa and coffee and so on, you have people who have a lot of love — for their animals and for their plants. You have to love your donkey!
So when you move hundreds of thousands of people out of that world of compassion, you create an increasingly compassionless society.
Let us pray that we may love our world, and become people who have a lot of love — for the animals and for the plants that share our gardens and neighbourhoods. Lord, Fill us with compassion for a bruised world; help us to see where we can make a difference, and to do just that. For your love’s sake, Amen.