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THE PEP COLUMN – Christmas, Comissiong and the children

marciadottin, [email protected]

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This Christmas column is dedicated to the memory of the late Reverend Vivian Comissiong, a veteran minister of the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas, and a great son of our Caribbean civilisation.
Reverend Comissiong’s concept of God was that of the Heavenly Father – a Father of perfect goodness and love towards His earthly children.
It is not surprising therefore that the “babe of Bethlehem” held a special place in his heart, and that he loved children – all children – and especially enjoyed the celebration of Christmas, which he regarded as the “festival of the child”.
Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, who admonished the world to – “suffer the little children to come unto me, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs”. And yet, Christmas can be the cruelest time of year for many, many children.
The celebration of Christmas has come to be characterised by an excessive concentration on the commercial marketing of toys and other “goodies”, and the insistence that the commemoration of the birth of Jesus is centred around the giving and receiving of presents. And as a result, many of the children of the poor are devastated at Christmas time, as they witness a seemingly never-ending parade of toys and “goodies” on their television screens and in the windows of department stores – toys and “goodies” that are really for other children, and that they can only admire and wish for from afar.
Some of us have seen this scenario played out time and time again at Christmas – the little single parent child whose home is so wracked by poverty that “mummy” simply cannot afford to buy the beautiful things in the store window.
And so, as we celebrate Christmas tomorrow, we should spare a thought for the poor children of our nation. Indeed, there is no better time to seriously reflect on the welfare and well-being of our children, since Christmas – properly understood – is really the festival of the child. This is the perfect time therefore for us to give some thought to the duty that we owe to all the children of our nation, and more especially to the children of the poor.
The People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) has always had a clear understanding that a set of duties is owed by society to the children of Barbados. These duties may be conceptualised as essential “foods” for the bodies, intellects and souls of the nation’s children, and include the duty of respect; the duty to give our children a sense of a community and a culture that belongs to them; the duty to bestow upon them a significant role in society and a sense of accomplishment and importance; and the duty to convey to them a sense of the location of their lives in the scheme of eternity and a positive belief in the future.
Of course, the duty of respect implies and encompasses the duty to provide for the physical and material welfare of all the children of our nation. All Barbadian children – regardless of the material wealth or social standing of their parents – must be properly fed, clothed, housed, educated and cared for medically – and our Government must ensure that this duty is fulfilled.
Let us all celebrate and mark this Christmas Festival with a collective resolution to orient our society towards the children and their future.