Prime Minister??Freundel Stuart, Q.C.
Fellow Barbadians, I greet you at this Christmas time with all the hope and optimism to which this season always gives rise.
The birth of Christ just upwards of two thousand years ago changed the course of human history and provided us all with an alternative to the despair and pessimism by which mankind had, up to then, been hamstrung.
It is that alternative which gives Christmas its unending freshness, evident every year in the spirited shopping, the singing of carols, the promotion??of church programmes,??and the exchange of gifts among a host of other activities.
At the very heart of the Christmas story is the continuing human quest for that peace on earth and??good will towards men which the coming of Christ promised.?? All around us, however, events continue to unfold which seem designed to make the achievement of that goal more difficult.
Chief among the events to which I refer is the on-going world recession which pressed itself on our notice in the last quarter of 2007.?? The lives of people across Christendom continue to be destabilised by this traumatic occurrence and forecasts as to when it will end seem tentative, at best.
It is in this kind of context that the coming of Our Lord to earth on that first Christmas day should assume new meaning for us.?? The promise of peace on earth and good will toward men should not be seen as a distant and impractical dream, but as a goal we can achieve by the efforts we are prepared to make in our daily lives.
The things I wish for Christmas cannot be bought from any supermarket shelf or from any department store, but have to do with changes of attitude which as a society we need to make if the lives of our more vulnerable citizens are to be enhanced.
Happily, a large majority of our citizens and residents here in Barbados do embody that spirit which the coming of Christ to earth was intended to herald.?? We continue, however, to be haunted by a few lingering concerns.
Too many of our single mothers still have to grapple with the day to day challenges of rearing their children, while the fathers of those children seem content to walk calmly away from their responsibilities.
Too many of our homes continue to be scenes of unseemly violence and abuse where, not only the welfare of women but also the interests of unfortunate and helpless children are put, unnecessarily at risk.
Too many of our young men and women continue to be ensnared by the use of illegal drugs; in the process, rendering themselves of less use to their families and their society than would otherwise be the case.
Still, too many of our young men are allowing the lure of short-cuts and short-term gains to blind them to the need to mobilise their God given talents in the service of themselves, their families and their country.
Too many of our citizens are still too insensitive to the plight of the disabled, with the result that we make their efforts at a tolerable existence much more difficult than is consistent with civilised human standards.
The hope engendered by the coming of the Christ Child can be made more real; the peace on earth and goodwill towards men, which his coming promised, can be brought more nearly within our reach if, by a change of attitude, we resolve to address some of these social challenges.
While addressing them involves little by way of expenditure to individuals, households or the government, the benefits from so doing can elevate Christmas from being a festival enjoyed a mere few days every year in the month of December to a daily experience enriched by the presence of the spirit of the babe of Bethlehem.
This is the kind of Barbados to the creation of which we should all aspire.?? Wise men, two thousand years ago, followed a star that led to a place where the hope of ultimate human fulfillment could be found.?? It is now our turn to follow that example and follow the star that will lead to the creation of a Barbados in which every man, woman and child, of whatever station in life, can find a comfortable place.?? We can do it.
Happy Christmas to you all and may the year 2011 bring you blessings unimaginable!