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Let there be peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind

Let there be peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind

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19.DEC.08

Christmas Message from Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves

Christmas is a season of peace on earth and goodwill to all men and women. It is a time of joy and happiness; a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too many of us forget the Christianity in Christmas and engage in unwholesome excesses of one kind or another, particularly in our consumption of alcohol, food, and other material objects. I sense, though, that more and more our people are trying to cut back on the excesses. We must try harder.{{more}}

Over the recent years, a sense of community has been revived and bolstered with organised “Nine-Mornings”, Carolling competitions and “lighting-Up” activities. At these events, little or no criminal misconduct occurs. This tells me that our people’s discipline is intact, and when properly channelled, yields good results for individuals, the communities, and the nation as a whole. We ought to encourage and support practically more of this.

Christmas, too, is a time for the family. This strengthens the solidity of this most fundamental institution in society. We gather, share, and spread our familial love. We spruce up our homes, change the curtains and drapes, and generally tidy up our immediate surroundings. This is a joy to savour, always.

Sometimes we spend more on beautifying our homes than we reasonably should. But this is a deeply-ingrained habit which is difficult to resist. Still, we need to be careful in these more challenging, and uncertain, economic times. After all, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not immune from the ill-winds which blow from the financial turmoil currently enveloping the rich countries on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet, we cannot deny our spirit, our lively Caribbeaness, and our Vincentian good-naturedness. We just have to strive for the correct balance.

I think that most Vincentians realise this, more and more.

My government factors into our public policy our people’s love for Christmas and the attendant cultural affinities. It is for this twin-reason that each year, at this time, my government permits duty-free access for the Christmas barrels, provides abundant work on a special Road-Cleaning Programme, grants bonuses and assorted payments to government employees, makes additional payments to the elderly and those on public assistance, gives special payments to banana farmers, and fisherfolk this year, and generally-speaking, brightens up the place. These are all national sweetness which must be conjoined with our joyous Christian spirit to uplift our lives. The “bread” is fine; but it must not walk alone. Indeed the spirit is the core; the “material” is the addition. This is the foundation of our giving and sharing with the poor among us. This, too, is Christmas.

The year 2008 has been a challenging one for us but we have met the difficulties with a calm and aplomb. Indeed, we have thrived; and our prospects for 2009 are both promising and further challenging. I outlined all of this in my recent Budget Speech and do not intend to repeat them here. We are on the right track, but we need to work harder and smarter; we need, too, to make sure that the tiny minority of lawless ones come onto the straight and narrow. Politically, the senseless divisions, pulling down and personal vanities should be curbed markedly. Basically, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small village-state in a dangerous neighbourhood and tough world outside. Our productive energies must be focussed and not dissipated in follies and ignoble quests for power or personal aggrandisement. Despite differences, we ought to work better with each other. But we must be respectful of each other.

During this Christmas season, I hope to rest a little, but I will, with God’s grace, be up and down the country, including my constituency in North Central Windward, meeting and greeting people. And we shall reflect together.

On behalf of my government, my party, my family, I extend yet again to all Vincentians at home and abroad, a wonderful Christmas 2008. Let us pray for each other, and let us not forget the poor and the marginalised in our midst and elsewhere overseas. May Almighty God continue to bless us all!

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