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We live in a world where good news seems scarce. The news media of which we are part, seems preoccupied with serving the public large doses of everything that is wrong with the world.

These days, the devastation caused by natural disasters seems to be so much greater than in years gone by. Next Monday, December 26 will mark the 1st Anniversary of the underwater Indian Ocean earthquake. The tsunami generated by the earthquake killed approximately 275,000 people, making it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history.{{more}}

Closer to home, in this hemisphere, we recall vividly the scenes of American citizens stranded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the despair felt this year by our own citizens here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who lost loved ones or property as a result of heavy rains, landslides and sea surges.

Terrorism, once only a vague notion for us here in the Caribbean, seems to be creeping into our reality. Our neighbour Trinidad and Tobago suffered this year with a series of bombings in downtown Port of Spain, and the upsurge in kidnappings that has been plaguing that Caribbean nation for the last few years seems to be spreading to other Caribbean countries.

Earlier this year, the police were challenged by a spate of murders that drove fear into the hearts of Vincentians. Many of our criminals seem now to be professionals, with a frightening level of sophistication. We can safely say that the era when most murders here were crimes of passion or committed in a drunken stupor is over. Drive by shootings, formerly associated with the streets of New York and Los Angeles, are no longer alien to us.

Despite the frantic efforts of our leaders and negotiators, we look on almost helplessly as the economies of mini states like ours are driven to destruction. The recently concluded meeting in Hong Kong and the chaos in which it ended do not give us much hope for any amelioration of this situation.

We continue to grapple with the moral and social issues brought on by a drug culture that is increasingly attractive, especially to our young people. We see the effect of HIV/AIDS, the breakdown in the family structure, poverty and its attendant ills, child, spousal and elder abuse on our families and the wider community.

In all of this, however, there is good news. The tsunami in the Indian Ocean saw a global humanitarian response in excess of 10 billion US dollars. When disaster strikes here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, our response to those affected is immediate and generous. For example, the DaSouza family of Overland, devastated by the murder of a family member, was the recipient of many acts of generosity including a donation of $25,000 from a couple that wishes to remain anonymous.

Philanthropy is on the increase. In fact, Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year for 2005 are Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono, three persons described by Time as being on “a global mission to end poverty, disease-and indifference.” The fact that they edged out world leaders and tyrants for the award is noteworthy.

The debts of 18 of the world’s poorest countries were forgiven this year.

There is an increase in volunteerism in churches, community organizations, schools, and other institutions. Churches no longer only sing and pray, they seek to serve the needy where they hurt most. More and more denominations are resembling the Salvation Army in seeking to bring practical help to the disadvantaged.

For Christians however, some of the best news ever told occurred a very long time ago. The reporter was an Angel, who related the joyous news of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Today, after two thousand years, we still continue to celebrate the good news of Christ’s birth. The good news is that though we are all sinners, God sent His Son to save us from our sins, and those who put their trust in His saving power can receive forgiveness and share in eternal life.

To all, a blessed and peaceful Christmas, and may our new year be filled with good news and even more expressions of Christ’s love in our lives. Let us show a new appreciation for our family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. Let us find new joy and contentment in serving the needs of others—physical, emotional, and spiritual.

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