This weekend, from Friday, April 7, 2023, the Christian world including Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will celebrate Easter beginning with “Good Friday” and ending on “Easter Sunday”.
Easter is the time Christians celebrate the crucifixion and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ believed to be the only begotten Son of God. The full significance of this story and the accompanying celebration by Christians are grounded in the belief that what occurred more than 2000 years ago is an important event in the salvation of mankind. The Bible, which is the reference point for Christians, speaks to the magnitude of the act when it prophesied “greater love hath no man than this, than a man who would lay down his life for his friends”. The book of John went even further confirming that it was the love of God for the world that allowed him to give his only son to die to save lost humanity. This is the greatest example of how far love will go and the extent of selflessness that is sometimes required to achieve the greater good. Over this Easter, as congregations gather, they will no doubt reflect on the ultimate sacrifice of one life that was paid to save others who were not necessarily deserving. Should we be reminded that the beneficiaries of the ultimate sacrifice included some very persons who chose a thief over the son of God, or indeed even those who participated in the act of crucifying him? This biblical reference and others speak to the recognition of the need for us as members of a community to act not only in our interests, but also for us to consider the interest of our fellowman, as part of the wider society. As our country moves forward with Government setting the development agenda, there will be times when we as citizens will be asked to be selfless and show love to the benefit of the wider community.
The dangerous road to Jericho
The parable of the good Samaritan is one that is frequently employed by comrade Ralph in parallel reference to the challenges faced by our country, and the approach we must take in working to get past those challenges. The years 2020 and 2021 were extremely challenging years, as the obstacles that confronted this country rose to dangerous extremes; we were metaphorically travelling on that dangerous road to Jericho. The thieves our country fell among included the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, the volcanic eruptions of the La Soufriere, Hurricane Elsa and the continued threat of coastal erosion in areas such as Sandy Bay, Sans Souci and Georgetown. In tackling the challenges, our ULP government acted decisively in a manner that saved lives and livelihoods and contained economic scars. In the case of the volcano, early warnings and prompt action enabled the evacuation of approximately 20,000 residents from the red zone without incidents, to emergency shelters. Emergency plans were swiftly implemented to properly manage those shelters offering the best care for the displaced individuals and their families. During this time, we showed the best of who we are, with love, selflessness and sacrifice being evident as communities came together to make our displaced brothers and sisters feel at home as best as possible. The response during the throws of the pandemic was also overwhelmingly positive, as Vincentians generally followed the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health acting in the best interest of all. When the vaccine became available, many got vaccinated with the understanding that it was the best tool available in the toolbox to keep our people safe and even where there was hesitancy, we witnessed a consistent change of attitude as more and more Vincentians got vaccinated. Our country was able to navigate the challenges of the pandemic because of the general attitude of selflessness, with most of us recognizing that the act was necessary not just to save individual lives and safeguard our health, but also the health and lives of loved ones, friends and even strangers. The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, opined that taking the vaccine represents an act of love and many other leaders of established religions also came out in support of the government’s vaccination drive, recognizing that this show of collective solidarity was necessary. Make no mistake, we would never have achieved what we have as a country over the last 3 years with attitudes of selfishness, resorting to atomized individualism or extolling individual rights and freedoms, but through communion, working together, caring for each other as on the dangerous road to Jericho.
Assurance in the leadership of the ULP
During the challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic and the eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano, the late Parnell R Campbell QC, made the now famous remarks, that he can sleep well at nights, knowing that Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP are at the helm here in SVG. That level of confidence and assurance expressed by the late QC was also expressed by the majority of Vincentians as we witnessed firsthand the policies of the government during those times that were implemented to cushion the negative impact of the challenges on individual lives. Hence, the government not only focused on large-scale initiatives, but also those that touched individuals through income support for various categories of employees including farmers, fisherfolk and vendors who experienced disruptions in their income stream. It is this level of care for Vincentians experiencing personal challenges that is reminiscent of the Good Samaritan, caring for the injured man he met on the dangerous road to Jericho. Many Vincentians who had their homes damaged during the volcanic eruptions, were beneficiaries of the repair programme that completed minor or major repairs to their homes. The government also relocated many families whose homes were assessed to be unfit, to new homes in Orange Hill, with more homes to be distributed to affected families. It is this type of care and concern for citizens including to the most vulnerable that sets the ULP government apart as a government that truly cares for our people. As we celebrate the greatest sacrifice ever made, born out of love and compassion for humanity, we should reflect on our own responsibility to show love and compassion to our fellowman replacing selfishness with a spirit of sacrifice motivated by love.