|Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart (FP)??|
My fellow Barbadians, like the rest of Christendom, we are today commemorating and honouring the birth of our Saviour, as we celebrate another Christmas.
Every year, at this time, people across the Christian world pause to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem two thousand years ago.?? The miracle of that birth has continued to inspire those who walk by faith, and to baffle those who walk only by sight.
Indeed, despite the passage of time, the novelty of, and the reason for, His birth are the same today as they were back then. ??The herald’s message of "peace on earth and goodwill toward men" is as relevant today as it was when first proclaimed by the multitude of the heavenly hosts on that memorable night when shepherds were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock.
The challenge mankind has faced ever since that proclamation is that of trying to frustrate those whose actions make peace on earth and goodwill toward men more difficult to achieve.
As we reflect on the message and the promise of Christmas, therefore, let us focus on those ways in which we can promote peace on earth; on those ways in which we can promote goodwill toward men.
Over the years we have done this by exchange of gifts, by the exchange of Christmas cards, by hosting friends or relatives to a sumptuous Christmas lunch, by the lusty singing of carols, or by attendance at church services.
These gestures are all to be commended.?? But peace and goodwill are not the creations of one day, or one season of "feel-good".?? It is our duty to promote peace and goodwill every day, of every month, of every year.
This daily duty requires parents to establish wholesome relationships with their children; employers to become more understanding of the challenges faced by workers; workers to become more sensitive to the needs and expectations of their employers; producers of goods and services to become more respectful of those who consume their goods and services; the able to embrace without pretence those who are differently able; the state to care holistically for all of its citizens; and citizens to play their part in the development of the nation.
Achieving the ideal of peace on earth and goodwill toward men requires, also, that we all make an extra effort to ensure that the less fortunate among us can also have a level of social, economic and psychological wellbeing consistent with what we want for ourselves.
As I have said on earlier occasions, what I want most at Christmas is not available in any store and cannot be found on the shelf of any grocery or supermarket.
What I want most for Christmas?? is that each of us grasp what is needed to bring a sense of fulfilment to the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves; is that each of us see our neighbour, not as a means towards those?? self-centred ends we may set for ourselves, but as an end in himself, so that we treat him as we treat ourselves; is that each of us treat the Christmas message as imposing duties on us that apply not only during the twelve days of Christmas, but apply also each and every day of every year.
That is how we as Barbadians can give true meaning to the miracle wrought through a virgin in a humble inn at Bethlehem, in mankind’s first Christmas.
I exhort you, in your families and communities, to internalise the words of that well known hymn "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me", during this Christmas season, and always.
I extend to all Barbadians, residents and visiting friends my wish for a peaceful and blessed Christmas, and a very healthy and most prosperous New Year.