Another Christmas is upon us, characterized yet again by the same painful memories we endured last Christmas. And just like Christmas of last year, the coronavirus still dictates how we celebrate the season of 2021.
This time around, however, we are not as helpless as last year because we have in our arsenal vaccines which have proven to keep the vaccinated alive causing them to enjoy life as they knew it before.
This year, in many ways, is a reflection of last year with its turbulent and painful history. And while we do not want to recount the pain of this year, we can’t help but reflect on the 295 lives taken by COVID-19, the 74 murders committed this year thus far – the highest ever recorded in recent times for any given year in country, the damage to infrastructure, vehicles and the 17 road fatalities to date.
Still painful this year were loss of jobs, unemployment, salary deductions, business closures and more, all attributed to a pandemic which appears to have the longevity of the Energizer Bunny.
But all is not lost, evidenced by the achievements we, as a people, have made to keep our country open for worldwide business.
The cruise ships are back in our harbour, flights into Hewanorra are projected to increase come next year, more and more of our enterprising young people are becoming entrepreneurs showing that they can do something for themselves and their country and not wait for their country to do something for them.
But the road ahead is still rocky. Crime is mounting and threatening the fragility of our tourism product and the security of the citizens. Police are fighting the crime monster as best as they can as noted by Police Commissioner Milton Desir at this week’s year-end press conference of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. The Government of Saint Lucia, meaning parliamentarians and senators on both sides, are still pursuing their own agendas, refusing to find common ground on key areas for the economic growth of the country.
Political tribalism is deepening now more than ever. Loyalty to Party has replaced loyalty to Country and its people. The country’s growth is being stunted by too many supporters of the Saint Lucia Labour Party and supporters of the United Workers Party willing to go to any lengths to defend their respective political leaders from any criticisms or wrongdoings, regardless of facts.
No one it seems is willing to concede an inch in the interest of the country, a situation that appears set to remain that way come 2022. This “us versus them” mentality is present even at Christmastime, a time of the year when brotherly love is supposed to flow, and did indeed flow, from one Saint Lucian to the other on account of the reason for celebrations at this time of the year.
Clearly, Christmas 2021 is not brighter than last year’s to the many who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic. Many of us will be entering 2022 imbued with a sense of foreboding due in part to our economic situation, the introduction of yet another COVID-19 variant, known as Omicron which is now in 102 countries and other matters.
But as noted earlier, all is not lost as we have a much stronger wall of immunity from COVID-19 thanks to the vaccines at our disposal and prior infections; just over 13,000 Saint Lucians have recovered from the virus.
And so this Christmas, our fervent wish is for all Saint Lucians to take responsibility for their wellbeing by obeying all the protocols established to keep the coronavirus at bay, one such protocol calls on them to be vaccinated.
Let us, this Christmas and beyond, vow to be our brother’s keeper by getting vaccinated and abiding by the set protocols. We fully believe that 2022 will be just as challenging as this year and the one before. However, we hope that the lessons learned over the past COVID years will help us overcome most, if not all, the challenges we will encounter in 2022.