Bula Vinaka, everyone!
We all love the gifts, lights, and cheer we see each Christmas. But – as I often remind my grandchildren – this holiday carries a purpose far more profound; it is our chance to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and the lessons of his legacy. Christians believe that Jesus was sent to live among us by his father, the Lord Almighty. But no matter our faith, the universal ideals Jesus embodied hold tremendous value.
He gave of his knowledge and compassion without fear or favour. He believed in justice and equality for every person – women, men, children, the elderly – he saw all as worthy of his service. In the end, he bravely gave his own life to forgive humanity’s sins.
I believe that if we reflect Jesus’s teachings in our lives, we’ll leave this world better than we found it. By showing genuine care and kindness to our fellow citizens and by helping those in need, without discrimination, we do more than give life to the goodness Jesus exemplified, we build a better and safer Fiji.
We must strive to follow in Jesus’s footsteps – not only when we think others are watching – but in everything we do. For example, as our society becomes more digital, we cannot afford to leave our morality in the physical world. When posting online we must still lead with kindness, we must still demonstrate decency and we must still be mindful of the example we set for our children.
My fellow Fijians, many in our Pacific family are bearing unimaginable tragedy this holiday season. I ask you join me in prayer for the Samoan families who have lost loved ones to a deadly outbreak of measles. We have a nationwide measles vaccination programme underway in Fiji. I urge every family to make sure all of our children between six months and five years old are fully up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. There is no blessing richer than the love of friends and family. I wish safe travels to all those journeying to spend Christmas with their loved ones, and I extend a special greeting to members of our disciplined forces celebrating Christmas away from home as they serve overseas. And for all of those taking home Christmas groceries and goodies in plastic bags – remember – our single-use plastic ban begins 1 Jan 2020. By committing to a cleaner Fiji, we protect one of God’s greatest gifts – our natural world.
In that spirit, let’s all commit to the success of our plastic bag ban starting in January, along with our ban on styro-foam in 2021.
From my family to yours: I wish every Fijian a very Merry Christmas. God Bless you all.
Thank you – Vinaka vakalevu.