Merry Christmas Gibraltar.
At this special time of year, Lorraine and I would like to wish the People of Gibraltar all the uplifting happiness and ‘humanness’ that flows from the festive season when we take time
to get together with our family and friends; when we take time to listen, understand and
empathise with each other’s perspective; when we take time to say “Merry Christmas” to
those familiar, yet unacquainted faces, in the crowd; and when we take time to offer those
in our Community experiencing hardship a compassionate ear and helping hand.
Christmas is, indeed, a special time of year. It is special because we take time to be human.
It is special because inclusive, respectful and generous Gibraltar stands proud as an example
of how to make the most of the privilege of humanity. It is special because Gibraltarians
take time to share ‘humanness’ through the power of human dialogue.
Recognition of the power of human dialogue is not new, far from it. It is a unique human
virtue that was recognised as far back as the Book of Genesis where the commentary on the
tussle between the authority of Humanity and Divinity recorded: “And the Lord came down
to see the city and the tower that the people were building. The Lord said, ‘if as one People, speaking the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come let us go down and confuse their language so they will not
understand each other’.
The Book of Genesis’ message is clear and simple: if the World’s myriad races, faiths,
cultures and generations are to co-exist in peace, freedom and prosperity we have to first
become able to communicate with each other, with an open mind, so we can understand,
and make the most of what others have to offer in finding collective solutions to collective
To paraphrase Rabbi the Lord Sacks in his book ‘The Dignity of Difference’, we need to have
the humility to respect our human differences and value the unique contribution of others if
we want to make the World a better place. This can only be done through dialogue.
To ensure a brighter future, we need to have an inclusive global dialogue. A dialogue where
the focus is on listening not talking. A dialogue where nobody is expected to give up
principles or values; rather everybody seeks to harness the decisive genius of building a
shared space for everybody’s disruptive beliefs, cultures, strengths, ideas, and yes, maybe
surprising to some, even self-interests. A dialogue in which nobody loses but everybody
changes. A dialogue that enables us to refocus our collective ambitions on the greater good
in a mutually-supporting way.
As Lorraine and I enjoy the magic of our third Gibraltarian Christmas, it is clear to me, and
has been since my early days on the Rock, that Gibraltar not only understands, but also
makes the most of the transformative power of human dialogue. Gibraltar has the humility
to embrace difference. A humility that lies at the heart of the Rock’s definitive advantage:
its inclusive, respectful and generous Community. A Community that is an example to the
World of how to co-exist in hope. A Community, of which, Lorraine and I are deeply proud
and regard ourselves as very lucky to be a part of. In echoes of Aristotle: “The Gibraltarian
Community is what it keeps repeating”.
As is the case during every festive season, I know that many watching will be working for at
least part of the holiday period. To you, I offer a particular heartfelt thank-you for keeping the wheels of the Rock turning while the rest of us savour some precious time away from work with those that we love and cherish.
We are also all especially indebted to Gibraltar’s dedicated and dependable law enforcement, first responder, military, healthcare and charitable organisations that will be
working throughout the holiday period to protect and sustain our Community. Day in, day
out, their selfless service is as vital as it is appreciated. Thank you to each and every one of them for putting their Community first.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing during this festive season, Lorraine and I
wish you a fantastic Christmas and a healthy, happy and successful New Year.
MAIN PHOTO: Screen grab from the GBC broadcast.