Christmas 2014: a yearning for peace
It is traditional for community leaders to present Christmas messages to the press in which they essentially urge Dominicans to share the joy and peace of Christmas, no matter how dreary their economic circumstances.
However, in the messages for Christmas 2014, these community leaders seem to have a common theme-healing after a brutal election campaign. Here is a sampling of these sentiments:
His Excellency President Charles Savarin wrote:
"We should therefore use this occasion to heal, renew and restore our fellowship following an election campaign which by its very nature is adversarial and divisive, impacting on families, communities and our beloved country.
"For the Christmas Season and beyond, let us examine ourselves sincerely, realizing and admitting our weaknesses; getting rid from our hearts all selfishness, anger and hatred and instead adopt the values of our Saviour that is, love, compassion, forgiveness and humility.
"Now that the election campaign is over and the people have elected a government of their choice it is for us to put aside our differences as a people and come together as one, to build upon the foundations we have laid over the years and to work our way through the economic and financial challenges that lie ahead."
Apparently still in election mode, in his message Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reminded his readers about the policies that his government will be perusing for the coming five years. And he reminded Dominicans that Christmas 2014 is an opportunity to heal the wounds of the campaign. He wrote:
"I pray that in this post-election Christmas season, we may choose the man Jesus as our model. That we may empty ourselves of any lingering bitterness and anger, and with humility join hands and hearts and voices in building a Prosperous, Peaceful and Just Dominica."
Celia Nicholas, the President of the Dominica Association of Teachers did not directly mention the election campaign but she hoped Christmas would help heal the nation.
"General Elections 2014 has come and gone. What is the aftermath? Let us embrace the genuine peace of Christ and allow it to pervade our totality. This will usher in the transformation we all yearn for," she wrote.
And Bishop Gabriel Malzaire hoped that Christmas to Dominicans would be like the arrival of a new leaf, green and fresh and refreshing. He wrote:
"Christmas therefore signifies new birth. Just as it ushered in the new Christian era over two thousand years ago, so it stands as a model of newness for all cultures and experiences. Ultimately, the newness which Christmas signifies is essentially life in Christ. It helps us find new perspectives in our everyday life.
"An event such as this last General Election, no doubt, can be viewed from that perspective. In the campaign leading to polling day, both political parties were promising a new Dominica following their victory. That was the message for attracting the electorate to vote them into office. Now that the Election is over, despite the disappointment and pain which remain in the hearts of a significant portion of our faithful, everyone lives in great anticipation of that promised newness – to see it unfold before the eyes of the nation."
But Thomas Letang, the General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union was of the view that forgiving and sharing joy and peace only at Christmas may be considered to hypocritical. Letang wrote:
"Fellow Dominicans, again this year Christmas celebration including all the traditions, customs and habits which accompany it follow on the heels of a divisive general election campaign. For some, long established friendships were lost through mistrust and selfishness. The pain and suffering of those who were personally targeted will not simply or swiftly disappear. To wait until the actual day of Christmas or a couple of days before to seek forgiveness or reconciliation for all the wrong things we have done or said during the campaign would seem hypocritical if it is done just for "Christmas time."
"There is no record in the Holy book that our Redeemer forgave only on His birthdate. Forgiveness on His part is continuous. He bestows love every minute of every day.
"As God fearing people who celebrate significant events like the birth of Christ we should see the actual date as the climax of all the goodness and Christ-like practices which we have established all year round.
"The point I wish to make is that efforts at reconciliation and forgiveness should be made as soon as mistakes are recognized. Christmas therefore presents us with the opportunity to reflect on the efforts we have made during the year to hurt others less and show more love. It presents us with the opportunity to reflect on how well we have served others during the year, and we will continue to do so.
"We should continually resolve to change from doing wrong things to doing the things that will bring us together, so that when Christmas comes at the end of the year our celebration will be filled indeed with peace, good cheer and great Christian joy.
"Going forward, then, let us show love and practice truth and reconciliation not only at Christmas time but throughout the year giving true meaning to the joy of our Saviour's coming. It is only then that we can joyfully celebrate our Redeemer's birth".
Whether you share the views of our leaders about healing potential of Christmas, you will undoubtedly agree that it will take many Christmases to heal the gaping wounds in our society created by party politics. Nevertheless, on behalf of the staff of the Sun we wish all our readers, contributors, critics, vendors, subscribers and advertisers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Peace and love!