Christmas Message | Peter Phillips - Build friendship across colour, class, political affiliation
Christmas is traditionally the time of the year when we embrace our family and friends and care for the less fortunate as we celebrate the spirit of our Saviour by spreading peace and love in our communities and goodwill to all.
Even as some enjoy the traditional Sorrel drink, Christmas pudding, and the opening of presents, let us pause to remember that this Christmas will be an extremely difficult one for many Jamaicans who are facing challenges which make life increasingly harder and less hopeful.
The spiralling crime rate has created fear where there should be joy and hope. Too many families are mourning the loss of loved ones when they should be celebrating the joys of family life.
We need to take time out too, to say a special prayer for our valiant public servants, including our teachers, nurses, doctors and our security forces, who over the past few years have been on the frontlines in the effort to keep our public services functioning. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and should express our solidarity with them as they continue their protracted negotiations for a decent liveable wage.
Christmas this year, as always, gives us an opportunity to celebrate our common humanity. As members of the wider human family, let us be inspired by the promise of Christ’s birth as declared by the prophet Isaiah – Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Mankind. This is a sober reminder that as a nation, we cannot go forward to achieve the progress and prosperity which we seek if we ignore the needs and desires of those who are struggling day to day to make ends meet, or those left behind in poverty and homelessness.
Against this background, Christmas provides the ideal opportunity for us to do what we can to relieve the difficulties and suffering of even one family or one person. It is a time for us to call upon our reserves of strength and Christian faith to share even the little that we have with our brothers and sisters.
Let us bring, not only a word of cheer to those in our communities that suffer from the twin scourge of violence and crime, but let us also make the time to sit with them to see how we can help them rebuild their lives and direct them to the paths of peace.
We should seize this time to make a special effort to build bridges of friendship irrespective of colour, class or political affiliation, so that the best qualities of our Jamaicaness and our humanity can shine through, as we give of ourselves and share with each other.
In particular, we owe it to our young people to set these examples of caring and hope, so that they can see the best of our culture and understand the strength and resolve of the generations before that have brought us this far as a people, and be inspired to act with resolve and creativity going forward to build a Jamaica that offers a real chance in life for all its people. From the examples of past effort and accomplishment we can all draw hope that the values of peace, caring and goodwill will enable us to triumph over all adversity.
This Christmas should be a time of giving and caring and a time of reflection and love that unites us all.
It is a time to remember our family and friends, here in Jamaica and in our Jamaican communities in the Diaspora.
May God grant to each and everyone of you a happy and peaceful Christmas and give bounteous blessings to you and your family.
- Dr Peter Phillips, leader of the opposition