By: Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The many-sided challenges which St. Vincent and the Grenadines currently faces, inclusive of the COVID pandemic and the socio-economic travails consequent on the volcanic eruptions of April 2021, demand more than ever a high level of selflessness and caring for our neighbours. And in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, everyone is each other’s neighbour. This idea of practical good neighbourliness is to be embraced and elevated in this season of peace and goodwill to all men and women as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The command of God to “love your neighbour as yourself” has central resonance in the world’s major religions, especially Christianity. It was one of the commandments delivered by God to Moses. In the New Testament, good neighbourliness is everywhere extolled. This matter of loving one’s neighbour begins with each of us, but it does not end there; the command is not to love yourself alone; it is to love your neighbour as yourself.
Loving one’s neighbour is the antithesis of selfishness. Each of us owes a duty of care to his/her neighbour, and we are enjoined not to breach that duty of care; invariably, breaching that duty causes harm to our neighbour and it boomerangs on the person who commits the breach of that requisite of good-neighbourliness. For example, in the Book of Luke [Chapter 10 verses 25-37] this issue is well-ventilated and explained in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Each of us must be a Good Samaritan to those who are poor, vulnerable, and marginalised. Each of us has a duty to ensure, for example, that he/she does not act irresponsibly or selfishly to transmit an infectious or contagious disease to another. Specifically, at this time of the COVID pandemic, none of us ought to act indifferently, negligently, knowingly, or recklessly to transmit the COVID virus to another.
In the context of a pandemic and the availability of the vaccine against COVID (the best tool in the tool box against COVID), it is the duty of each of us to take the vaccine except where there is a compelling medical condition which compels you not to take it. The vacuous mantra of “My Body, My Choice” is plainly wrong on the grounds of science and public morality.
Last year, during the Christmas – New Year season, too many of us were reckless, indifferent, or negligent in our interactions with others. We had a terrible spike in COVID infections. Let us avoid a repeat of that this year, particularly given the Delta and Gamma variants, and the looming Omicron.
The government and other public authorities, in concert with the people as a whole have been working steadfastly to save lives and livelihoods but a recalcitrant, selfish group of persons have been seeking to undermine the worthy efforts of the government and the bulk of our citizenry. I urge all to take the vaccine now. It is good for you, your neighbour, and our nation. The vaccine is not the enemy; it is the coronavirus in all its mutations!
Meanwhile, it is necessary and desirable for all of us to put our shoulders to the wheel to assist in developing our country sustainably.
We have been holding things together and making much progress; the future is bright. We must not do anything to undermine the mighty efforts at nation-building. Please forget vanities and selfish, personal agendas.
As Prime Minister I affirm that the Estimates and the Budget for 2022 will contribute to making life much better for our people. But each of us must play his or her part to the fullest extent possible.
At this time of the year, please remember those who are less fortunate than you. Many persons are experiencing difficulties, hardships, and anxieties. Let us help those who are truly in need. That is a simple way to commemorate Christmas. You may not be able to help everyone, but you can help someone.
Be a good neighbour: Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God!
Happy Christmas, SVG!
Prosperous New Year, SVG!