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Bishop Gabriel Malzaire
Bishop Gabriel Malzaire

We come to that time of year when we reflect together as a nation on the significance of our self-determination. What a privilege it will be for us if we approach it with the sense of patriotism and spiritual fervour that it deserves! This, our 3rd decade year of independence, is a call to dig deeper into the reality of our own self-understanding

The theme around which the festivities will be celebrated: Our Culture Our Responsibility presents both a joy and a challenge. Though the notion of "culture" encompasses the entire gamut of human experience, in our local parlance, we more often than not limit our comprehension of it to the events in our social milieu, which permits us occasions for joyous self-expression. The traditional music and dances, the Creole Music Festival, the activities that constitute Creole in the Park, the Cadence Competitions, Creole Bode Lamere, the local cuisine, the dressing up in traditional and cultural wear, and even the Youth Rally and the Independence Parade are all expressions of our culture, which we approach with tremendous pride and promise.

However, standing beside the scintillating beauty of our culture is that daunting charge of responsibility. It is indeed a huge task, when one considers what it takes to build a strong nation—especially a nation under God. It is my belief that if our nation's citizens would give a little more attention to the collective responsibility we have for the earth and its sustenance, and emphasize a little less the absolute rights of individuals, we would be a more wholesome people.

The truth is, when our point of departure is responsibility, our attention automatically goes to the "other." This is the basic principle on which Christianity stands. However, when our focus turns only to the individual and his/her rights, the scope is as limited as the individual. Despite the fact that these two factors of human development need to be held in reasonable tension, it does not take a great deal for one to realize that "individualism" is no prerequisite for the building of a nation. Individuality, on the other hand, is absolutely needed for providing colour and variety to the local community for the enhancement of life for all.

As we celebrate this 36th year of nationhood, my sincere wish is that we grow towards a fundamental cultural change through a revolution of vocabulary; that is, a change from "I" to "we" from "mine" to "ours" from "me "to "us." This can only come about as a result of the transformative power of collective responsibility. This is what a Nation" is all about: "US"

Without doubt, therefore, Our Culture IS Our Responsibility: that of our government, religious leaders, civil servants, labourers, farmers, teachers, fisher-folks, professionals, in short, everyone. We thank God for the contribution that each person and group of persons makes in this noble task of nation building.

Happy Birthday Dominica!