From: Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves
Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
At Christmas 2023, we first thank Almighty God for His goodness and mercies towards us. Always, we reaffirm that our Nation is founded on the belief in the supremacy of God and the freedom and dignity of man and woman. Despite the many challenges which we face individually and collectively, we are not a people of lamentations. We are optimistic about our future: Morning by morning new mercies we see; all that we need His hand has been providing; great is His faithfulness. We do not embrace pessimism or learned helplessness.
We work hard and smart. We are improving the quality of our lives, our living, and our production. We know, truly, that although we are not better than anyone else, no people anywhere is better than us; different in some ways, perhaps, but not better than us. Our economy is improving; and God has been good to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Still, we must do better; there are many unfinished tasks to be done; we can do better.
As we commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we must reflect on His message of redemption, love, faith, hope, peace, good neighbourliness, and selflessness. And this reflection ought to guide us in our daily lives individually, and collectively as a nation.
Surely, this is a time of respair, of fresh hope, after the recent years of convulsions, dislocations, and even despair among many, consequent upon the COVID pandemic, Hurricane Elsa, the volcanic eruptions, storms alternating with droughts, and the knock-on effects of global turmoil, including the wars in Ukraine and elsewhere. I have written a book, published in September 2022, precisely, on these subjects; it is currently available in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Even as the economy is on the uptick and our people’s lives generally are improving amidst the unfolding of promising initiatives of real substance in the public and private sectors, there are too many persons in our land who are still suffering hardship; too many faces of men and women are strained and anxious for a variety of reasons. These we must all address individually and collectively, in solidarity.
Despite the massive improvement in the quality of housing nation-wide, there are persons with sub-standard housing, including some of those whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by the volcanic eruptions. There still exist pockets of poverty and indigence; and reckless, needless criminal violence is perpetrated by a tiny group of young males wedded to drug trafficking and the gun. These are challenges which we must meet in our individual and collective lives. Indeed, we have it within ourselves to roll-back further poverty and indigence, and to defeat gun violence. We must do so in unity, not in divisive political opportunism.
Daily, we must enhance our strengths and possibilities and reduce our weaknesses and limitations; indeed, we ought to cause our weaknesses and limitations to metamorphose into strengths and possibilities. All these positive things we can only do optimally if we act in meaningful social solidarity as social individuals; we must avoid selfish or atomised individualism which is inherently destructive of the individual and society as a whole.
At Christmas 2022 we ought to lend a helping hand to our brothers and sisters, our neighbours, who are in genuine need. On the metaphoric dangerous “road to Jericho” we are required to be Good Samaritans to those who need our help. Love, hope, and faith are vital. Good neighbourliness and peace must be exalted. Let us thus be better. We can be better. God’s goodness and mercies will lift us up. But each of us must do his or her righteous part.
Accordingly, I wish each Vincentian, at home and abroad, a blessed, peaceful, and joyous Christmas 2022, and a prosperous, uplifting 2023!