It’s hard to think of a Christmas season when all of us across Zambia have needed the break more acutely.
The truth is that 2021 has been a hard year for our country. This has been a difficult year for many of us. We didn’t succeed in delivering the real change, revolutionary change that so many people so desperately need. But Christmas is a chance to listen, reflect and remember all the things that bind us together: our compassion, our determination to tackle injustice, inequality, lack of honesty, humility and solidarity and our hope for a more just, fair and humane world.
Christmas is a time of year when the scale of injustice and inequality is in very plain sight.With our political system in gridlock, and public discourse too often descending into rancour and abuse, it’s felt like we’ve been living permanently under a dark cloud.All of us across Zambia have too often focused on the differences between us, rather than on what ties us together.
So I hope the magic of Christmas casts its spell for people this year, helping families and friends remember what it is that unites them, not divides them. I hope it reminds us that, despite the sound and fury of our national debate, the bonds of family, community and country are still deep and lasting.
Yes, it’s a cliché that Christmas is the season of goodwill. But its important for all of us that we demonstrate that goodwill to each other this year and that, for a week or so, hopefully the shouting match of social media can fall silent. It’s also a time to thank health workers who will be keeping going over the Christmas holiday should we need them, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic that has been raking havoc. I hope they get a break with their families in due course.
It’s also right to mention those people who will this year be supporting the destitute, those living on the streets, the homeless during the Christmas season, our religious leaders for whom this is such a busy time, and all those who are looking out for a neighbour or a friend who needs support at this time of year.
And I also want to ask people to think about their neighbours. While we celebrate being together, we are reminded of the many who will be alone and sadly lonely at Christmas. But our communities are built on generosity and the solidarity that comes from that. So we do not walk by on the other side. Loneliness can be a terrible thing at Christmas. So we should look out for each other. And let’s make sure we have peace in our country and on our entire planet.May I wish all of you a merry Christmas and happy 2022.