American author Ms Melody Beattie is credited with one of the more simple, yet profound quotes relating to the start of a new year. “Each new year,” she said, “stands before us like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”

We greet the year 2024 full of hope as we have an opportunity to write new scripts for our lives and to set goals, individually and collectively as a nation, still and always aspiring for a better tomorrow.

Last year was a mixed bag of successes and failures. As usual, in sports, we basked in the joy of our triumphs in a range of disciplines, even as there were occasions when we agonised over the pain of defeat. But defeat gives the vanquished an opportunity to analyse, recover and compete even better the next time.

At the macro-economic level there is reason to feel encouraged, even as we acknowledge that the gains are not being felt by most Jamaicans at the lower economic level. At the same time, tourism continues to perform exceedingly well to the point where we are now in the midst of a projected bumper winter season with earnings set to climb beyond US$4.2 billion.

Yet, we continue to yearn for better roads, water supply, universal education, and health care, especially for the most disadvantaged.

Most of all, though, we are concerned about crime that continues to plague this nation, even as the police have reported a 7.8 per cent reduction in murders last year — 1,393, compared to 1,511  in 2022.

Against that background we welcome the commitments made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding at the National Day of Prayer on January 3 to work together on anti-crime measures. The country should hold them to that promise because, regardless of which political party we support, we all want to see Jamaica flourish.

A similar alliance is needed to effectively deal with the course manner in which we interact with each other and the rampant indiscipline on our roads.

Amid all that, though, we recognise that there still exists a wealth of good in the country, and our people, not least teachers, nurses, police officers, and many other professionals overcame serious challenges last year by their resilience.

Sadly, many of us lost loved ones over the year, But that, as we all acknowledge, is life.

However, by God’s Grace, we are still here and we have the opportunity to overcome our challenges.

Let us, therefore, try to move forward together in love and harmony; use our God-given talents to engage in activities that will uplift our spirits and create the perfect environment for personal and community growth; and keep and protect our fellow citizens. Remember that we are all brothers and sisters.

A happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year to you all.

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