The following is Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s Christmas message:
I wish to extend Christmas greetings on behalf of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, my own family, and myself as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on this festive occasion.
In this solemn season, it may be appropriate to acknowledge that we, in Trinidad and Tobago, are blessed.
In many places around the world the rejoicing of the birth of Jesus Christ, as the Lord and Saviour is confined to Christian communities. Here at home this season is embraced, shared and openly celebrated among Christians and their non-Christian brothers and sisters alike.
Yes, there are socio-political divisions, and tensions, but this has to be seen as a tribute to our peoples’ tolerance of each other and a display of our common, appreciable values, understanding and respect for peaceful co-existence in our multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation.
Today, as we share in the festivities of the season, let us continue to hold on to the message which Christ brought to the world through his birth, and his teachings of Love, and Hope.
In these very challenging times, his message resonates with more potency and relevance than other recent times.
As you know, the past year has been very testing for the entire world and no less for us here, as a people.
Throughout the year, we have been faced with, and continue to be confronted with several challenges, such as the decline in global energy prices, a matter so close to our well-being, in the early part; then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been with us since March, standing alongside the continuing old threat of the HIV virus.
Our lives have not been the same since then, but the experiences of the pandemic have revealed a reality, which Christ preached, that we are one people in the eyes of God.
As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us continue to hold on to his message. Let us, during our festivities, hold to the essence of his birth and the true message of Christmas.
Trinidad and Tobago is a modernising society. However, modernity, and attempts at modern lifestyles do carry some social maladies, one of which is the decline of the spirit of community, and the rise of individualism, selfishness with a disconnection from the true, or inner selves. That notwithstanding I am confident that we all have it within us to love to forgive to hope and therefore to overcome.
Individualism creates the stresses of anger, impatience, suspicion, disconnectedness and despair which exist in some pockets of our society.
The message of Christmas is one of love. It says that the source of life is love, and without love there is no true life. Here then is an opportunity for us all to pause and extend our hands to each other.
My Government, in doing its part, continues to maintain the socio-economic measures, within its resources, to secure the lives and livelihoods of all people in our beloved nation.
Both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services continue to assist the most vulnerable in our society, extending social grants, particularly during the Season, ensuring that “No one is left behind”.
Let us as a people use this season of good cheer to continue to impact our homes, communities and society at large by sharing that message of hope in spite of the various challenges that we face.
We are still being asked to social distance among our relatives and friends in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 even during this season of extensive “Paranging”.
I know that this Christmas will be unlike Christmases of times past, with many away from family members or forgoing the traditional visits in attempts at social distancing.
However, let us hold to the tradition of giving, of charity to the less-fortunate. Share a meal, buy some groceries, extend a helping hand, or a kind word of encouragement to all you meet.
Let us all find novel ways to celebrate and spread the Christmas joy.
Let us all be our brother’s keeper, sharing the Christ’s message of Love and Hope, and ensuring that “No one is left behind”.