October 21, 2005
Put your country before your party

by Bishop Sonny E. Williams – Presiding Bishop, Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (St. Vincent and the Grenadines District)

This year’s Independence Celebrations are sandwiched between the political campaign for the next general elections. This naturally has taken centre stage and seems to be capturing our National attention. Independence Celebrations appear overshadowed by the numerous political rallies.

It is with this background in mind that I am borrowing Calypsonian IPA’s call ‘to put your country before your party.'{{more}}

Governments come and Governments will go; Leaders rise and Leaders will fall but this land will remain for succeeding generations. This is the land that all political aspirants are seeking for a mandate to build. May the words of our National Anthem, “with joyful hearts we pledge to you” (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) be heard above the jubilant shouts at our mass rallies.

After the votes are counted, the winner announced and the Government installed, we all, Vincentians at home and in the Diaspora, have a country to build. Let’s not be myopic, let’s see the bigger picture. Let us not, in our quest to ensure our party’s victory at the polls, create problems and set trends that may prove difficult to solve and costly to reverse.

Consequently, I call on all Vincentians to respect your fellow man even if his political affiliation defers from yours. Neither our political allegiance nor the shade of our skin can change the fact that we are first foremost Vincentians, with a common heritage and destiny. One can passionately support his or her political party without attempting to malign or traduce others of the other side.

Let us have a clean, violence free campaign, with the focus on the issues critical to nation building and a de-emphasis on personalities. Let us all exercise vigilance and cooperate fully with the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (NMCM) in ensuring a free and fair election.

It is imperative that each registered voter goes to the polls on Election Day and votes for the party/candidate of his own free choice according to his conscience.

Let us take some time out of our hectic politicking schedules to celebrate our nationhood, appreciate our cultural heritage and reaffirm our commitment to nation building. Independence Celebrations always present an opportunity for reflection and evaluation.

Martin Luther King in his book, “Where do we Go from Here: Chaos or Community,” succinctly concludes that:

“Our problem today is that we have allowed the internal (i.e. Ideas, Art, Literature. Moral Values and Religion) to become lost in the external (i.e. the world of competition and conflict, manipulation and management). We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live.”

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance (Prov. 14:34). Remember righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.

I am honoured to salute this nation on its twenty first Anniversary of Independence on behalf of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI).

May you continue to enjoy peace and prosperity.