A time of hope, faith and love
by: The Honourable Dr Ralph E. Gonsalves
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines
The enduring themes of hope, faith, and love are deeply resident in our Caribbean civilisation, shaped profoundly, as it has been, by the universal values of major religious beliefs, especially those grounded in our Christian ethic. These themes connect inexorably with those of peace and goodwill, good neighbourliness and solidarity, which are emphasised as gifts to all people at the season of Christmas – the occasion on the Christian calendar when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. And there is much for us to celebrate despite our individual and collective difficulties and challenges.
To begin with, the redeeming teachings of Christ are always instructive in the proper ordering of our lives and living as individuals, families, and societies. Even those who are not Christian believers admit that Christian verities provide a sound basis for the ordering of a peaceful, just, and humane society. So, at both the spiritual and temporal levels, the Christ in Christmas has bountiful offerings from which each of us can draw to lift our lives to highest heights.
It is right and proper that traditionally at Christmas we think of the condition of our individual lives and those of our families, friends, and neighbours. It is a season which brings out the best in us to give generously and selflessly our love and caring on both non-material and material terms. Each of us has love and peace to give; we must find these gifts in ourselves and give them, even to those who have been unkind to us in the past. If we do not, we will inevitably be filled with meanness, fear, hate, malice, and war. That is not the way to spend Christmas or any other time. I am sure that the sermons and advisories of our religious leaders will instruct us more on these messages.
At the broader national level there is tremendous hope for a better material life and living in the economic improvements generally, the capital projects by both the government and the private sector, and the targeted-specific socio-economic interventions on behalf of groups such as the working people, farmers, fisherfolk, the youths, the elderly, and women. Indeed, specific interventions at Christmas lift our spirits. And we are happy to see so many visitors and nationals overseas coming direct to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, by air, from Toronto, New York, and Miami through the international airport at Argyle. All these practical matters lift our spirits greatly.
At the same time, the selfishness and greed, the wickedness and anti-social behavior of a tiny minority of our nationals, especially young males, cause pain, injury, suffering, and even loss of life to others. We thank the Police and other law-enforcement authorities who are seeking always to keep us safe from a handful of violent criminals. There is much more for parents, teachers, church leaders, and the communities to do to help those who have a propensity to stray from law, peace, and order. We all must resolve at Christmas 2018 and in 2019 to do better and to live better.
I am personally very hopeful for our people and our nation. There will always be difficulties and challenges, but we must never descend into hopelessness and be of little faith and love. Our country has abundant blessings for which we must be thankful. We must not become enveloped by lamentations. Morning by morning new mercies we see; all that we need His hand provides; great is His faithfulness. For our part, we must do justly, love mercy and goodness, and walk humbly with our God.
At Christmas 2018, I ask that each of us help at least one poor, sick, or disadvantaged person. In that, and other ways, let us keep Jesus Christ in our Christmas!