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Light of the world

Walter L. Maloney President, National Union of Public Workers

Brothers and sisters, as we once again celebrate the birth of Christ, let us reflect on the Christmas story: a story that reminds us about people trying to do their best in a bleak situation.

Walter Maloney

A couple forced to go to another town for a census, a man doing his best for the woman to whom he was engaged and who was heavily pregnant but not by him, and an innkeeper trying to do his best for the couple when all the accommodation in town was taken, and in this human drama the birth of a child.

So it is in our world of darkness, Christ was born in Bethlehem, the light of the world and the hope of all nations.

Whoever you are, wherever you are in the world, when darkness surrounds you; whether it’s the darkness of domestic violence, the darkness of poverty and hunger, the darkness of disease, the darkness of frustration and loss of meaning and purpose, the darkness of loneliness and alienation, the darkness of injustice and oppression — the message of Christmas is that the light shines out of the darkness into our hearts and brings us the real peace. “Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you” – John 14:27.

At times it is hard not to feel down hearted when our best does not seem good enough. When things go wrong with our relationships despite our best intentions, when tragedy hits families or communities both near and far, when so much of our news is about violence destroying people and our environment.

Christmas is a time of looking beyond these to see the goodness and beauty in those around us. To look at tragedy and see the stories of kindness and compassion that carry with them hope of life beyond the darkness. To look at the violence and see the efforts made to change these patterns and see in them signals of hope for a safer Barbados, to look at our environment and see the beauty that is there and to hear the call for great alternatives and signals of hope for our country and the world.

In the midst of all this is the need for sound public administration and effective governance.

The Public Service is treated like air; when it is readily available, fresh and pure we often take it for granted. Only when it becomes polluted and we can no longer breathe comfortably, we realise how indispensable it is to our lives. The Public Service brothers and sisters make the difference between comfort and hardship for our more vulnerable citizens. Whether in our many social services, health, education, transportation, housing, security, rule of law or the implementation of public policy these are all services provided by ordinary public servants.

This is especially true today because we are faced with the simultaneous challenges of the economic and financial crisis, climate change, public health challenges and food insecurities. Together with other problems these crises are jeopardizing our capacity to ensure the well being of our citizens. Tackling and overcoming these multitudes of crises require a competent, accountable, transparent and effective public service.

Therefore let us all in this Christmas season acknowledge the crucial role played by public servants in this country and do our utmost to ensure that they continue to make their contributions to excellence in public service. When we accept the invitation to look beyond the surface, we become open to signals of hope for ourselves, our families and our communities. This is part of God’s gift that is celebrated at Christmas, but which doesn’t stop there; God invites us to look beyond.

On behalf of my family, the Executive and National Council, the General Secretary, and all members of the secretariat and indeed all 12,000 members of the NUPW: May us all share in God’s gift of love and hope this Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

Yours in solidarity.

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