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Christmas Presence

It’s hard to look at the world around us and see a reason to celebrate the season. Corruption, greed and selfishness seem to be all around us, from the CEOs on down. None of us are immune; we all seem more inclined to act in our own self-interest than in looking out for the general welfare of the human condition. I’m no different than anyone else.

And yet we wrap ourselves in ribbons of self-righteous piety. We profess our love of people and yet we turn our backs on them continuously. We vote for those who claim they will lower our taxes and who will axe social services. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow wider and more profound and our quality of life has suffered tremendously. These days, even shelter is not a given anymore.

Christmas 2010 finds our country, our people and our planet at its most dire in human history. That’s a bit of a bold statement considering the dark times our world has weathered in the past, with war, plague and disasters economic, man-made and natural all besetting our species, and yet it is a statement I truly believe. We are at a turning point in our history, one in which we will determine who are species is and what we stand for.

It is easy to listen to Christmas carols while shopping for the latest electronic trinkets for our loved ones and say we are in the Christmas spirit. It is easy to go to church and listen to a priest or pastor sermonize from the pulpit about what it means to be Christian. How much harder is it to actually live by the ideals that Christ himself embodied, one in which we put others before ourselves. Others whom we may not necessarily like or whose lifestyles we may not necessarily agree with.

It’s not an easy thing to ask, and I feel a bit of a hypocrite bringing it up. I feel deep anger for the people who exploit the general population for their own gains and cause untold suffering and grief in order for themselves or their corporation to profit just a little bit more. I feel deep anger for the people themselves who have become so apathetic that they have allowed this situation to occur. I feel deep anger for the media who have abrogated their responsibility to keep the population informed in exchange for selling more newspapers or advertisements, for putting the bottom line ahead of their mandate to be watchdogs and whistleblowers. We are all partially to blame for the predicament we’re in because it is easier to numb out than it is to be informed.

Our future is very much in doubt. Our children are more interested in instant gratification than in accomplishment. Internet surfing, social networking and video gaming are more important to them than preparing themselves for the future. We are leaving them a world that’s a mess economically and ecologically, and they are in no position to do anything about it. Sometimes it seems to me that as a species, we’ve given up.

And yet I can’t bring myself to believe that it’s all over for us, that the future of our species will be determined by nations in the East. America is far too noble an experiment, far too important a concept to be lost to our own greed and avarice. Freedom is a precious commodity and we are its beacon, like it or not. We have the responsibility to protect it, nurture it and pass it on to the generations that succeed us.

Despite all the rampant self-interest and cynicism that seem to be drowning our nation in ennui and angst, I still harbor hope that our own basic goodness, the things inside us that bring us closer to the divine can still win out in the end. It is at this time of year that the shackles of hatred, oppression and greed can be broken at least to some degree with hope, love and unity. I truly believe it is within us to rise up against those who would oppress us and say “We will stand for this no longer.” I believe that it is within us to accept those who we would reject, to embrace those who are without hope and to stand with those who cannot stand on their own.

Christmas is a time of family but it is also a time of hope and renewal. I grow weary of the economic aspects of the holiday – you cannot buy your way into heaven after all. There is nothing wrong with showing your love for someone by getting them what they want, but is that all we are? A nation of consumers whose fondest dreams are all about the hottest gift items at Best Buy? Can’t we do better than that?

I remember reading a story about a group of young people who instead of giving and receiving presents at Christmas instead went out and bought blankets and jackets and gave them away to homeless people who needed protection from the cold. Those kids are my heroes and the hope that reside in my heart that things have a possibility of getting better. They lead by example; they aren’t lip service Christians but rather those who actually walk the walk. I wish I was more like them.

My abilities lie in the written word. I can use them to inspire and move, and hopefully someone somewhere might actually feel motivated to make a difference in the world, in the lives of those around them. For my part, I can only give of my time and the resources available to me to help bring up someone who needs a helping hand, be it by lending a shoulder to lean on or an ear to vent to. I may not necessarily have the stamina to go out and build houses with Habitat for Humanity, or the physical ability to stand and serve the homeless in a soup kitchen which are things when I was younger I could do; instead I can do the things I can to make the world around me a better place.

I’ve spent a lot of time bitching about the world around us, and perhaps that isn’t in keeping with the holiday spirit but what I am trying to get across is that we can do better. The problems and challenges before us are not insurmountable if we have the will to make things better and the willingness to stand up and refuse to submit to what we are given. We deserve better and we have the opportunity to make things better if we are willing to stand up and fight for it with the same passion that we fight in World of Warcraft or Halo Online.

In the final analysis, it isn’t the things we have that define us, it’s the love inside us that makes us who we are. Christmas isn’t about things, or lights, or carols; it’s about the best part of us, the part that is divine in all of us. Our legacy doesn’t have to be one of greed and destruction of our environment; it can be one of working together to make our world better for future generations, for giving them a chance to create a world in which war, poverty, hunger and disease are as much a part of the history books as pyramids, chariots and steam engines. I believe in that future and our ability to bring it to pass.

Christmas is a time of hope. We celebrate the birth of Christ, who is one of the most influential humans who ever lived. His message of love has reverberated down through the ages and continues to inspire and influence two thousand years after the fact. Whether you believe in his divinity or not, it is his message that anyone can get behind; loving your fellow man and helping those in need. We are only as strong as the weakest among us; there are none of us stronger than those who bend down to help someone up. My prayer this Christmas is that all of us – all of us, every one, everywhere – put aside our thoughts of presents and possessions and remember that the one born this day made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may one day potentially become the divine within ourselves. When we tap that part of ourselves and join together, we can accomplish anything. We can even defy the rich and powerful and return the power in this country into the hands of the people who built it. If we have the will, we have the way. This Christmas, let us celebrate peace and love. In that spirit, let us strive together to make our world a better place for our children rather than stand by and let those who only want money and power destroy it. That would be the best Christmas present we could ever give our children – and ourselves.


2 Responses

  1. Words of the prophet Carlos

  2. Truth is something you cannot destroy, no matter the lies you float truth remains, and you have spoken the truth. God bless us all even the liars

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