Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is calling on the nation to spare a moment of reflection to remember all those families and communities who have experienced the loss of loved ones along the way and for whom the pandemic is more than the daily news but the source of the pain that they would continue to suffer.
He made the statement in his Christmas Message to the nation.
The full message is as follows:
I extend Christmas greetings to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of the Government of the Republic, my own family, and myself, as Prime Minister.
Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the spirit of Christmas reaches deeply into all our hearts, creating feelings of calm, giving, forgiving, contemplation, and brings out the best in us all.
It is a spirit which causes us to pause, savour the moments, show compassion and reflect on whether we have been “naughty or nice” over the past year.
Charles Dickens’ classic novel, “A Christmas Carol” is a great example. Using a fictional miser-businessman, Ebenezer Scrooge, it tells the story of the lessons, which we can learn at Christmas time about the mistakes and failures in our lives.
But this year, Dickens’ other novel, “A Tale of Two Cities” may be more appropriate, when he wrote about the best of times, the worst of times, the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness, the age of belief, the age of incredulity; the season of darkness, a winter of despair – and yet a spring of hope.
Dickens could have been describing the world we now know, which is in chaos and becoming smaller, because of technological advances, international trade, transnational relations and unique, even frightening challenges.
On the other hand, this has made us humans, closer, regardless of our differences. An increasingly interdependent and hugely interconnected world is, however, making each of us our brother’s and sister’s keeper. The Covid-19 pandemic, with its changing faces, has added to this chaos over the past two years, but it has caused us to begin to think about ourselves positively as one big human family, with each person holding a “universal responsibility”.
This does not negate the fact that we all hold Individual Rights, as citizens — but it acknowledges the other, or neglected side of the coin that every citizen also holds equal Individual Responsibility for the care and safety of his/her fellow citizens in Trinidad and Tobago.
In this pandemic, all citizens, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, hold Rights and Responsibilities for, inter alia, the care and safety of each other in this country.
Over this season, we should not, at any moment, think about asserting our Rights, without acknowledging our Responsibility to the person standing within arms’ length and, overall, to the nation-State of Trinidad and Tobago.
Let us all believe in the indomitable human spirit and its limitless capacities, and believe that Christmas is a time for renewal, a time for each one of us to look inwardly, with the hope of ridding ourselves of the dark tendencies of rapacious individualism, selfishness, jealousy, and hatred.
Let us all in these testing times find it within ourselves the notes to sing “joy to the world” as a statement that we will overcome these challenges, buoyed up by this enduring of the Christmas spirit.
Even as we do this, let us spare a moment of reflection to remember all those families and communities who have experienced the loss of loved ones along the way and for whom the pandemic is more than the daily news but the source of the pain that they would continue to suffer.
We pray that they be comforted and strengthened as they overcome their grief.
Human civilisation was built on the basic values of love, compassion, decency, morality – all positive qualities. The season of Christmas is that moment we can renew those values and reveal further our true strengths, within.
Personally, I see the present chaos as additional challenges and the birthing of a new order in our nation’s journey. At this time, I hold out to our Nation that “Spring of Hope” which Dickens wrote about.
Merry Christmas to all citizens.
God Bless Trinidad and Tobago.