by Dr the Honourable Godwin Friday, Leader of the Opposition and President of the New Democratic Party
Friends, let us reflect on what Christmas means to us. We will have different memories and experiences no doubt, but we share the fundamental belief that Christmas means the coming of Christ, the love of God for us and the hope of salvation.
Christmas is my favourite time of year. I have wonderful memories from my childhood of sharing and enjoying the company of relatives and friends, and also strangers who came on Christmas Day to have a drink or partake in other seasonal treats with us. That is the spirit of Christmas. Many of you, I am sure, have similar recollections and also others that you treasure just as much, for we are one people with common values and traditions. That is the strength of our communities and our nation.
Let us hold on to those happy memories and look to create new ones this year, especially for the children growing up at this unusual and trying time. The challenges are many but must never be cause for despair; we are stronger than that!
We are still recovering from the eruption of La Soufriere volcano and must continue to keep the people in the northern communities in our prayers, for they feel it most. The pace needs to be quickened to repair their homes and get them back on their feet. We are still battling the COVID -19 pandemic and will be doing so for some time to come. While we have learned a lot about the disease and how to protect ourselves, we cannot let our guard down for to do so would invite greater pain and loss. So, let us continue to use a mask properly in public, social distance, observe the recommended hygiene practices, keep our immune system strong and satisfy ourselves about the real and proven benefits of vaccination. I believe it offers the most effective way out of the pandemic. You must decide for yourself. Public servants and teachers should not be deprived of their jobs and benefits because they are not vaccinated. They are not the enemy; the virus is, and we must not vilify and victimize our friends and fellow workers but work together to contain and defeat it. Dialogue and relevant information are keys to our eventual success. That is the better way and, indeed, the only way to end the pandemic and move forward.
We all want to get back to our normal lives—to attend birthday parties, weddings, graduations, beach picnics and so many other things that make life in SVG fun. Carnival, Easter Regatta, Easterval, Gospelfest, musicfest and Christmas light-ups must happen again and the sooner the better. In the meantime, let us be safe in the ways we look to enjoy the Christmas season and the New Year’s celebrations. Ignoring the dangers will not suspend the effect of the coronavirus; it will give it more opportunity to harm us. Let’s continue to work as a community to defeat it and get back to our lives.
As the New Year dawns, think not only of the hardship and challenges that may come, but also of the opportunities to change things for the better. There will be many– in business and in social and political life–but we must be alert to them and grasp them when they present themselves to us. I know we can do it. And I believe you do too.
Continue to look out for one another. There is no good reason to do otherwise, especially at Christmas time. We have made it through difficult time before. Having done so, we are stronger and more determined that we succeed in making a good life here for ourselves and for those coming after us. Make time to truly appreciate what a wonderful gift Christ’s coming into the world is for us; the gift of salvation.
Have a blessed Christmas. Extend kindness and love to everyone. By God’s grace, our future will be better, and will bring peace and happiness.
May God bless us all.