Christmas Message by the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, Q.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Barbados.
Good morning Barbadians all. I greet you with the warmest of wishes on this blessed Christmas Day, regardless of whether you are at home in our sun-drenched small corner of this earth, or some far flung and cold location.
I trust that the message of the season, the joy and hope that are supposed to be synonymous with the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, will fill you and your household throughout this day, and that you will never forget that real joy and hope are best when shared as widely as possible.
On this Christmas morning, while we think of the music of the season, the food and drink that we will consume, the new clothes that we will wear with pride or the gifts that are sure to warm our spirits, let us not forget that there are others who will not be as fortunate.
Christmas, our Christmas, will mean so much more to them and to us, if our every action and thought on this day includes some consideration of others whose circumstances are characterized by challenge or hardship. Indeed, as I speak to you now, I cannot help but recall that on this same day last year, I asked you to spare a thought for those Barbadians among us who were being asked to make the monumental sacrifice of their jobs in the public service and private sector in order that we could start the most difficult, but unavoidable, task of stabilizing our country’s finances.
For most, if not all, of those persons and their families, this past year, therefore, would have been no doubt marked by pain and worry – anxiety. Indeed, even as we turn the economic corner and we see the light for some, I am aware that not everyone is where they want to be. I know it is still difficult for some of us, but I say to you truly, we are getting there today.
Today, I tell all Barbadians that the evidence of the last few months, in particular, demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that your sacrifice, our sacrifice, has not been in vain. And all who have had to pass judgment on our performance recently have all said that our progress thus far is truly impressive.
“The love and joy of Christmas, the caring and sharing of the season, which we all long to see become year-long features of our lives, can only become this reality when every Barbadian at home and abroad embraces them.”Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley
In a nutshell, they all agree that we have been doing the right things as Barbadians and the confidence of the world in our ability to manage our affairs and to create opportunities for our people has returned. I say to you that Barbados’ brand is once again alive and well. We still have some distance to travel, and yes, we shall stay the course.
I assure you that the year ahead, indeed the years ahead, will not be as trying as the year we are now leaving behind. Indeed, it is the year that we expect to see a return of greater economic activity at all levels. But today is not the day for me to discuss that with you.
Every Barbadian must understand that we equally have to learn from our past mistakes, and that we must be prudent in our actions while never letting caution stifle our creativity and our spirit of Barbadianness; that we shall always carry the flag high.
We are moving from this path of stabilization to one of sustainable growth, and this must bring benefits to every Barbadian. And we must do this while never again being reckless with the public purse or the public’s trust. We have to ensure that the past year of planning and foundation building now develops into activities that expand opportunities for every Barbadian rather than the consolidation of wealth in a few hands, as occurred with impunity not so long ago.
Barbadians, my Government has done a lot in 19 months, but we have a lot more to do and I will never try to make you believe that the task that lies ahead, even with all its hope, is one for the Government and the Government alone.
We can only achieve our hopes and dreams, we can only truly prepare the groundwork for future generations, your children and grandchildren, if we all join in a genuinely national effort of transformation – and I shall not tire to say so.
For more than a year, we have been consumed by several challenges that have impacted us all negatively in some way. We are well on our way to resolving many of them. However, as I said, your Government cannot do everything.
The love and joy of Christmas, the caring and sharing of the season, which we all long to see become year-long features of our lives, can only become this reality when every Barbadian at home and abroad embraces them.
And let me give you examples. The men and women of the Royal Barbados Police Force can give every ounce of their blood, sweat and tears to combat violence, but in the end, it is our tolerance, our forgiveness and our respect for life and property that will lead us to never, ever repeating this year’s early beginning with the appalling statistics of loss of life.
The men and women of the Sanitation Services Authority can cover every route diligently, every day in this country, but until every Barbadian resolves that he or she, each one of us, in fact, will not drop our litter on to the streets or the gutters or the gullies or the other public spaces, we will continue to complain about how dirty our country is and wonder why it is flooding and why the aquifers are not recharging.
In other words, the solutions lie also within our grasp as Barbadians in how we choose to live, how we choose to behave, and how we choose to relate to each other.
We have all heard the story of Christmas, my friends, and we all know of the humble birth of the Christ Child in the manger. We’ve been told of the Wise Men who did not find it impossible for them to descend from their stations of affluence to the place where a carpenter and an unemployed mother had their child.
This Christmas, as we celebrate and look towards a new year, let us do so as we always must, with humility and with a sense of duty to our neighbour and to our country.
Let us resolve that the spirit of Christmas will not depart from us on January 6, 2020, but that the love and caring we expect from others will permeate our every interaction through this next year, 2020, and beyond.
And why? It costs us nothing.
One of the most quoted calls to civic action in the Western world in the past century has come from the former president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, who, back in January 1961, said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”
I ask you to take the Christmas spirit of caring and sharing well into 2020 and beyond. As we gather from all corners on this earth, month by month, parish by parish, to perfect our finer vision in 2020 for Barbados, let us all think of how we can give back.
Whether we plant a tree or two every week or every month, whether we paint a school or a public building, whether we donate to a hospital or clinic or to the Botanical Gardens, whether we give our expertise to our children in our communities and to parents who are raising children and whether we help them in culture or sports or education or some other endeavor that will better prepare them for negotiating life.
Whatever we do, my friends, let 2020 be about others and not about self. Let us do unto others, as we would have them do unto us. And let us use this time to build a foundation for our country, conscious that we need to do so to secure our journey over the course of the next 50 years.
And for today, let the spirit of Christmas carry and imbue into us all a spirit of national regeneration, a regeneration of that traditional Barbadian spirit such that it shall shine across our nation and shine across the world.
Truly, my fellow Barbadians, I wish each and every one of you a merry Christmas, and a blessed, blessed 2020. God bless us all.