Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Our nation has just emerged from a bruising, divisive, and even hate-filled general elections.  Preceding these elections was a decade of lies, innuendos, defamation, scurrilities, and hatred spewing forth from talk-radio especially on one radio station.  All of this has been motivated by a partisan political quest for power laced with an unnecessary malice.  This campaign of vilification has not succeeded in accomplishing its political goal.  Surely, it is high time for its perpetrators to grasp the futility of their strategy and tactics and take a different tack.  The mass of Vincentians are fed up with all their poisonous rhetoric.  The Christmas Season for the year 2010 is an opportune time for the excessive partisan bickering, libel and slander by some political elites and their associates to give way to reconciliation and good neighbourliness in the nation’s interest.

By far, most of our people are good-natured but too often the antics and utterings of some political leaders and their close confidantes undermine this elemental good-naturedness and engender an unworthy divisiveness.  As a nation we waste too much time and energy on these negative matters and spend too little unselfish, personal effort on nation-building.

My government has extended its hand of friendship and cooperation to the opposition but the response has not been encouraging.  The people and their non-governmental organisations have a vested interest in ensuring that national reconciliation, unity, and good neighbourliness prevail.  The people and their organisations, including the structured Christian Community, must stand up and demand a far less polluted framework for public discourse and actions.

Peace, reconciliation, unity, love, good neighbourliness, and redemption are at the heart of the Christian message, the celebration of which we collectively share at Christmas in commemoration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

In announcing the Cabinet recently, I allocated to a Minister, Maxwell Charles, the portfolio of National Reconciliation, among other subjects.  This is a clear indication of my government’s seriousness in engendering a lessening of harmful political partisanship and character assassination.  Maxwell Charles is well-suited to assisting us all in this effort given his history of active engagement in pastoral work.

At Christmas 2010, I ask us all to remember well the poor, the afflicted, the marginalised, and the disadvantaged.  We must embrace them, not scorn them; we must help them, not chase them away.  We must love them dearly.  In so doing, God will bless us and everything that we put our hands unto.

I urge that we all be moderate in our consumption of food, drink, and revelry.  Let us be ever mindful of the central purpose of Christmas:  Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men and Women.  This reminder is as much for us at home in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as for those abroad in troubled lands.

I realise that our daily travails and preoccupations often leave us insufficient time to reflect on the greater meaning of life.  Christmas is a time for that introspection and reflection.  I pray that we all find peace in ourselves and show goodness to all our neighbours.

I wish you a wonderful, blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2011!