“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbours and let every new year find you a better man.” This was the quote by Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, that President Paula-Mae Weekes used yesterday in her New Year wishes to the country.
The President said while 2019’s lows seemed to vastly outweigh its highs, citizens must not despair. “Now would be the time to consider how the successes can be replicated and grown, and how declines and missteps can be stemmed or avoided. Just as we take particular pride and ownership in our 2019 accomplishments, we must acknowledge and bear our responsibility, individually and nationally, for the much that has gone wrong.”
She said the challenges we faced such as crime, unemployment, road fatalities and racism, will define us unless every individual, office-holder and agency admitted its role, stopped the blame game, and committed to doing their duty.
“Boundless faith in our destiny means little unless we are prepared to do the necessary works. Whether we hold the office of president, minister of government; minister of religion, clerk, or that most important office of citizen, we each have a responsibility to make a contribution to the healthy development of our nation.”
Weekes described citizenship as a contact sport. She said no one had the luxury of being a casual observer or bystander or member of the audience, and had every right to comment, criticise and complain. However, we did not have the right to do nothing more. She said her duty was to focus on nation-building—national consciousness, national involvement and national pride.
“Many in our population seem to think that all must be right with us before we can take pride in our nation. I venture to suggest that those people are putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps when we identify and treasure our many blessings as a nation, we will do our part to encourage and develop the good, reject the unacceptable, hold our public officials to account, and ensure that there is much of which to be proud.”
The President said in the new year the Office of the President will embark upon a series of visits to schools nationwide in a programme called Inform, Educate, Engage, with the aim of “igniting the fire of national pride in the young people of our nation.”
This, she said, will run concurrently with Citizen True, a four-year youth development programme aimed at creating committed citizens, which was launched in May 2019. Two other initiatives, First Females and Youth-Truth to Power, will also come on-stream this year.