SILENT NIGHT, HOLY NIGHT
After the storm created by the banking legislation and the 2016 budget, our country has thankfully quieted down to usher in the Christmas season. There is something about Christmas that brings out the best in all of us. The love, peace and joy that are integral to the Christmas story seem to unwittingly infect every person. The result is a time of harmony, merriment, reconciliation and new beginnings. I do not believe it is coincidental that Christmas day is in close proximity to the end of a calendar year as we know it. The birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ marked a new beginning for mankind. Each year we have an opportunity to make a new beginning – a fresh start. The Christmas story itself teaches us several lessons that, as a country, we can take with us into 2016. If we pay close attention to those lessons perhaps we can see positive changes in our society. These are the lessons I wish to share:
1. Demonstrate confidence and trust. Mary and Joseph answered the call to be earthly parents of the Son of the Almighty God. Despite their human fears, and possibly doubt, they had confidence that they should do what God required of them. Surely enough, God saw them through. While I am by no means comparing our political leaders to our God, it is equally important that when we elect people to lead us, we should allow them to lead. Our election of our leaders is a demonstration of our trust and confidence in their abilities. Therefore when they propose to take the country in a certain direction – while we have every right to question or to express a differing view – there must come a time when we have to trust our leaders to do what is in the best interest of our country. It is the only way they can actually lead effectively.
2. Keep open the doors of opportunity. In the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph were turned away by several people who, I am sure, had they known the divine mission of these two young persons, would have gladly opened their homes to them. Instead, our Saviour ended up being born in a manger. Sometimes opportunities will present themselves to our country. They may not come at the time, or in the way, we expect but it is imperative for us to not be close-minded and to be able to recognise and respond positively when we have opportunities to assist as well as to benefit.
3. Follow those with vision. Just as the wise men followed the star that led them to the place where Jesus was born, we, residents of Anguilla have to be able to discern which “star” to follow. This can become confusing because there are so many persons out there who are encouraging us to follow their lead, join their throng, hop on their bandwagon. The wise men knew that following the star would lead them to their goal. Similarly, we ought to be certain that the “star” we are following will lead us to where we want to be. We must therefore ensure that there is a shared vision for Anguilla which we are all working towards.
4. Share your gifts. On meeting baby Jesus, the wise men immediately presented gifts in celebration of his birth. Anguilla needs the gifts, talents and abilities of all of us. Yet many prefer not to use their gifts for the betterment of our country, but rather the advancement of other countries where their contribution is not as significant. Whether we live in or out of Anguilla, I believe all of us have a duty to give back to our country so that it can develop sustainably and provide opportunities for the growth of all its people.
5. Show gratitude. In addition to being celebratory, the sharing of gifts by the wise men demonstrated gratitude for the greatest gift God had given the world. Here in Anguilla, we ought to show more gratitude to those who have served our country whether in the Anguilla Revolution, through community service, social development, public service or the private sector. It is not sufficient to pin a medallion on them without any accompanying benefits. There must be an affordable way in which we can meaningfully demonstrate that we value and appreciate that the quality of life we enjoy is the result of the sacrifices of others.
The foregoing are a few of the lessons, I believe, on which we should ponder as we close 2015 and welcome 2016. While they are by no means the answer to the many challenges we will face in the new year, they are all things we can learn from and which, if practised, can result in a more peaceful, collaborative and harmonious society. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our prediction for 2016 could be, to quote Silent Night: “All is calm, all is bright”? There is no reason why this cannot be a reality if we allow the spirit of Christmas to guide our thoughts and actions throughout the year.
A blessed Christmas and a peace-filled New Year from all of us at The Anguillian.