It is once again, that special time of Year - Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men!!!

To the readers of my articles in St. Lucia and farther afield, it is my sincere pleasure to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

It has been a difficult year for most of us, especially those who lack the ability to be perpetual travellers. I once read a book that recommended that every individual should at least seek to acquire five citizenships. It is in time like these that people with options to travel freely are better for the privilege.

We are experiencing a period of great uncertainty and as a result there are many anxious moments. The forecasters, whether they are involved in area of finance, business or otherwise can no longer exercise the type of accuracy they once achieved. Everything we do is based on the immediate. The future is unpredictable. No wonder the phrase “The only thing that is constant is change.”

The playing field is changing every passing moment. Unfortunately, many in our midst while knowing the state of the world today, refuse to respond to change.
Last year at this time 9/11 was very much in our thoughts. We have come a long way since, even to the point where many of us were beginning to predict a turn around in our economic fortunes.

Just a few week ago, we were faced with a new challenge. The possibility of a war with Iraq. There is nothing like cautious optimism, the position as it stands today is not if there will be a war, it is when? The news is not good at all. All this is heating up at a time when we are echoing the theme the Christian world - “peace on earth - goodwill towards men.” How ironic is the theme when the world is on a war footing.

For many nations, it is difficult for them to go along with big brother - the USA when they know that after shocks would be detrimental to their economies and the livelihood of their people will be surely affected.
It is very difficult for me to turn my attention to the Holiday Season. I keep glued on to my television, anxious to hear what is the next move in Washington as it relates to Iraq. Does it make sense to you that inspite of the world problems of hunger, disease, poverty, etc, etc, that the USA should be involved in a battle with Iraq when so many lives will be lost? Does this matter to you? What can we do to send a strong protest to President Bush and his Cabinet to find alternative to an all out war with Iraq - let the spirit of this time of year pervade?

Have you given thought to our Food Security while all this is going on? Fortunately, we have Bananas, a sea full of fish, many fruits, green vegetables, etc but many of our neighbours are not that fortunate. Our farmers must be encouraged to do the best they can and diversify their crops so that they can rise to the occasion in the event of strategic food supply sources being cut off.

However, no matter how concerned we are about the state of the world's economies and the impending war in Iraq, we should not allow those things to distract us from enjoying this Holiday Season. After all, it might well be the last for many of us. I am persuaded that President Bush will not wish to cause pain to the many families in the USA who are likely to loose loved ones in the battle with Iraq so I am willing to predict that we can all go ahead and plan for a Merry Christmas and a God centered New Year.

While all of the various negative developments are taking place around us, it is no time for us to be complacement. We must make use of our unique location which is in a “Zone of Peace”. It worked for us post 9/11. We bounced back in a short period, of course our small properties did not gain much, it was the larger properties in spite of discounted rates. By the later stages of 2002, the industry was expecting better times as the 2002/2003 season dawned.

In other areas of enterprise, we must position ourselves to take advantage of the many fallouts due to political unrest and other hindrances to business in most of the developed world. I believe that if we keep an open mind, war or no war, we shall survive. I believed 2002 has prepared us for the future. We have proven our resilience.

Finally, I will go with the idea to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. This again I say may well be for many of us, our last Christmas. Whatever you do, be mindful of the less fortunate and most of all be safety and security conscious in everything you do. Especially those who drive, remember not to drink and drive, drive carefully, it’s not only other persons, it is also you - many drivers have died.

Happy Holidays! Keep the Faith. God is in Charge.

21 December, 2002