Hope springs eternal. And nothing in human life better captures this sensibility than the beginning of each new year.
Individuals, institutions, and countries all use the end of one year and the beginning of a new year to assess what has been and to contemplate what can be.
So what are our hopes for this new year?
Good health, peace and prosperity are most frequently at the top of lists, whether they relate to individuals, organizations or nations.
The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment (MOHWE) has publicly stated that in 2023, they intend to double down on the fight against non-communicable diseases which have been killing Vincentians at an alarming rate. Late last year, the Minister of Health outlined a comprehensive health system reform which places more emphasis on NCDs, which in his words have gotten out of proportion.
Recognition of a problem is the first step in arriving at a solution. Now, we get to the more challenging stage — implementation. Success for the MOHWE in its thrust to promote healthy lifestyles means that on the individual level, we must be successful in our own individual efforts to eat healthier diets, exercise more regularly and stop the abuse of alcohol and tobacco / marijuana. A culture where the majority of people in the home, workplace and community are practising healthy lifestyles makes it easier for others to develop and sustain healthy habits. We hope that this initiative is sustained. We all stand to benefit.
We are also hopeful that the nation’s economic fortunes would flourish this year to the benefit of all Vincentians. Certainly, we are painfully aware of the inflationary pressures that have reduced our spending power as the costs of so many critical items sky-rocketed. But as Government accelerates the spending on major projects, most notably the building of a new port in Kingstown, and as private enterprise begins to spend on new hotels and affiliated services, we look forward to increased employment for Vincentians and a resulting increase in the spending power of Vincentian households.
Few things better emphasize the quality of our lives than to be safe in our homes and on our streets. Here again, we look to the future with hope. 2022 was the bloodiest year to date and saw our country setting a new record of 42 homicides in one year. Overwhelmingly, the victims and suspected perpetrators of these killings were young men, who national security officials say have turned to violence to settle disputes among themselves, generally in relation to the control of proceeds of criminal enterprise. But here too, we must remain confident that with the cooperation of every law abiding citizen, our institutions of law enforcement, government and morality will keep aflame the candle of civilized conduct in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and bring this situation under control.
We do not recede from the belief that in this upcoming year we have the capacity to write a new chapter of hope in St Vincent and the Grenadines. And this chapter can tell the story of a country where through more effective policing, greater respect for human life, and the genuine love of civil conduct, our homicide count and crime rate in general, will collapse to a level that would make us the envy of the Caribbean.
And this new year provides us with a new opportunity to create this new reality in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The well of hope is inexhaustible. And for this upcoming year, we must drink deep.