Editorial: And on earth, peace and goodwill

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It is the timeless message, the hope of the ages – that on earth, there will be “Peace and goodwill toward men!”  It is referred to as the annunciation to the shepherds, and it is one of the most aspirational and comforting verses in the Christmas story. (See Luke 2:14). We here in Antigua and Barbuda share the hope that come 2019, there will be less rancor and ill-will; that there will be more comity, and that we will be a kinder, gentler people.
Of course, this will begin with a bona fide effort to not distrust the motives of each other, and refrain from greeting each effort by the other with cynicism and suspicion. We are suggesting that, as difficult as it may be, we try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Let us see and laud the good in each other. After all, as the well-known saying exhorts, “There is so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, that it behooves all of us not to criticise the rest of us!”
Not surprisingly, a good deal of the bad blood in our fair state arises from the hard-and-fast political party positions to which we cling. Even when some of those positions are manifestly not in the best interests of our country, we espouse them because our political leaders say that we ought to. Indeed, it is often quite amusing for to us to watch political sycophants twist themselves into knots trying to defend the indefensible behaviour and utterances of our leaders. So sad to see so many of our brothers and sisters ‘purging their consciences’ as they make apologies for malfeasance and attempt to justify that which is unjustifiable.  Here’s hoping that the New Year will see an end to that sort of blind and rabid loyalty.
A first step towards reducing the tension and the seething passions infecting our body politic is that of listening to each other. And treating each other with the utmost respect! The rude and dismissive manner in which we are wont to treating our fellowmen is unhelpful, and really does nothing to bridge the partisan divide, or advance the cause of our development. For example, Barbudans seem not to be able to work with each other, or with the central government, and vice versa. The central government appears to be downright averse to working hand in hand with the Barbudans. This foolishness must stop!
Another step is that of keeping faith with the people. The shrouding of so many of our country’s initiatives and deals in the netherworld of secrecy will inevitably give rise to conspiracy theories and mistrust. For 2019, we say, “Let there be light!” Nothing so inspires confidence as sunlight!
We are also suggesting that promises that are made ought to be kept. A promise to ‘open the books’ or ‘give an accounting’ or ‘hand over the keys’ or ‘launch an investigation’ or ‘provide some relief’ ought to be kept. When there is a grand political announcement of “Good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10), Let it really be so! All politicians of every hue and stripe must eschew the perfidious practice of uttering exactly what they think the people want to hear. It is ‘mamagism’ of the most distasteful sort, because most times, they have absolutely no intention of delivering on the sweet-sounding nothing. For shame! In 2019, we are hoping and praying that that ‘mamagism’ will be a thing of the past.
It is not a bridge too far – this notion of “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men!”  It just takes some political and personal effort. As the very popular Christian hymn says, “Let there be peace on earth / And let it begin with me / Let there be peace on earth / The peace that was meant to be!” Sigh!

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