BASSETERRE, ST KITTS, January 1, 2022 - Stating that the new year will require an entirely new approach to surviving and being resilient on two significant fronts, Leader of the Opposition in St Kitts and Nevis, The Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, has expressed the view that 2022 "requires innovation, creativity and a bravery and boldness capable of conquering every challenge we are thrown."
In his New Year message, the former prime minister said 2021 was a very challenging year and one must be happy to start a brand-new year, noting that considering the lives unexpectedly lost, the limitations with movement, job insecurity and above all difficulty accessing needed goods due to shipping challenges, the people of St Kitts and Nevis face 2022 with some trepidation.
"All these hardships of 2021 are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a reality that we will most certainly face for 2022.
The question then is ‘How do we face yet another year living with COVID-19?” The answer is simple. together. For all those listening to this message, be reminded, and comforted in one undeniable truth: We will Survive 2022 together."
Pointing out that the theme of his New Year's message is “Seeing our way through 2022 purposefully, resiliently and together, Dr Douglas urged the people in St Kitts and Nevis and in the diaspora to be purposeful in 2022.
"The people must first demand of those charged with governance and making laws to lead and serve with compassion, to bridge divisions and to respond to the needs of all people. Second, as one nation, we must find the inner resolve to become revolutionary in our approach to survival, no longer should hand-outs buy our loyalty. We must embrace the industrial and entrepreneurial resolve to take care of ourselves, our families, and our neighbours without the ease of being bought," said Dr Douglas.
He said in doing those things "we must not lose sight of the fact that we must all be brave and innovative together."
On the issue of innovation and self-sufficiency for 2022," Dr. Douglas stated that to survive when shipments might be uncertain and access to favourite food items become challenged, it will require a more determined approach to food security and self-sufficiency and "the nation must find creative ways to feed ourselves."
He suggested that the opportunity afforded by COVID-19 should not be missed to create community-based food supply strategies. "I implore us to farm together, to determine how we will, as communities rotate crops to allow year-round supplies of our essential food items. We must plan together and work together so that all can eat healthily and sufficiently regardless of sex, class, or creed. Failure to come together to be able to feed ourselves can lead to serious disruptions in our lives if food ships do not arrive on time," he said.
Dr Douglas said there can be no greater urgency than the need to ensure the carving out of a way to feed the people and that the task "requires an attitude of nowness as much as it requires togetherness."
In calling for an end to passivity in 2022, Dr Douglas expressed the view that Kittitians and Nevisians have never been a passive people.
"We have been leaders not only in the transformation of our country but also the progress of our region. Our nation has been first to create waves of movements across the region, for the rights of working-class people. We must never allow ourselves to become passive. We must never allow ourselves as a people to silently accept the wrongs meted out to anyone in our society. Always remember that any injustice faced in 2022 by one citizen will be an injustice against every citizen. We must coalesce around a common goal of surviving 2022 together," he suggested.
He further stated that togetherness above all requires the silence from critical institutions such as The Christian Council and Evangelical Associations to transform into loud voices which speak on behalf of good governance as they once did.
"Togetherness demands that other civic and non-government organizations such as the Bar Association, Unions, Cooperatives, and the like, join ordinary citizens in the fight to acquire and maintain the best standard of living for themselves and their families.We can only foster a nation where rights are protected, people are free to speak up if we address together, any person, institution, party or government which may be threatening our rights to survive as a people. Even in our very cultural artform, Calypso, artiste must once again have the freedom to express and comment on every social injustice without fear. Let us do this together," Dr Douglas urged.
First elected to the St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly in March 1989 by the residents of St Christopher 6 (Newton Ground to Harris'), the seven-term parliamentarian said he was proud of his stewardship of 32 years as the National Political Leader of 90-year-old the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) from 1989 to 2021.
"As a result of this stewardship, I was afforded the opportunity to serve this blessed and beautiful country of ours as its second Prime Minister for 20 years from 1995 to 2015. I am confident that the history books will record this period as our greatest leap forward. These experiences with Party and Country have been enriching, rewarding, and humbling," said Dr Douglas.
He expressed confidence that the gains made "can continue to sustain us into and through 2022."
"I demand of this Government that it reinstitute the one-to-one laptop programme, that it finds the ingenuity to provide more homes for its citizens, finances to encourage more to study overseas and debt forgiveness for those who are saddled with student loans," said Dr Douglas, who added that those have been pillars of success for many and the reintroduction and introduction can serve the nation well in the new year ahead.
Dr Douglas said that in experiencing the darkest times in 2021 as the people faced the coronavirus pandemic, communities willingly rallied behind each other to ensure collective sustenance of lives and livelihoods. "We saw individuals take up the mantle to provide food and support to those most in need, in particular, persons facing the most challenging experiences of COVID-19 quarantine. It is in this light that I urge you to remember to love your neighbours, look out for your community members, and always do the greatest good for the greatest number of people," said Dr Douglas.
"As much as we must ask all of us to search or deepest selves for the strength and fortitude required to face this new challenge of a new year, we must accept that only our government has the capacity to provide help in certain circumstances. If men and women can be compensated to keep the peace, if civil servants can be rewarded with a double salary, if unqualified citizens can harvest $500 monthly from the PAP then surely it can never be too late to give due assistance to men and women in the tourism industry who have and continue to suffer. This Government must be urged to provide entertainers who continue to be overly exposed by the realities associated with COVID-19 with back-dated assistance.
After all there exist a compelling claim to provide more to more citizens so that we can together enjoy the goodwill that the government has a duty and responsibility to provide to all its citizens," said Dr Douglas.
He also stressed that surviving 2022 and beyond will demand that we find the inner resolve to look beyond immediate comforts and strive for more resilient lives and livelihoods in the future.
"I urge you to use the upcoming year as a period for self-assessment, introspection, evaluation of your goals and pathways to success. Ensure that plans are made as a family. Ensure that your new livelihood endeavours will see each person into a prosperous 2022 and beyond. The upcoming year may require greater sacrifice than ever," he said noting that as St Kitts and Nevis face a fourth wave of COVID-19 with the Omicron variant, survival requires discipline to abide by safety protocols to ensure the protection of everyone; providing support to the front-line workers, finding ways to bridge the digital divide for students and working on self-sufficiency and importantly using as many options as possible available to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I urge you to use the available vaccines and to boost where necessary. I urge you to implement all other health and sanitary measures. Your health and our health as a nation is important," said Dr Douglas, a physician by profession.
In closing Dr Douglas listed a few tips for surviving 2022 together:
1. Love your brothers and sisters as God admonishes us to do so.
2. Do not assume things will go back to normal but prepare yourself to be face the uncertainty of the new year
3. Be creative, innovative, and bold with your ideas for business and entrepreneurial activity
4. Always hold those elected to serve accountable for their actions
5. Remember that GOD will take care of his people; so, do not worry excessively
6. Eat healthily, exercise, and strive for your best life in 2022.
My dear citizens and residents of St Kitts and Nevis, it warms my heart now to wish you Happy New Year and a Blessed 2022," said Dr Douglas.
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