[Christmas thoughts ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]
Did you notice it? The Christmas hype is already on. Lights are going up. Commercial displays are popping up. I don’t know what’s on TV or radio, I don’t watch and don’t listen to commercial media but I’m sure it is already going strong. “Buy, buy, buy… buy, buy, buy, Buying all the way… Oh what fun it is to buy, and fill our cars with stuff!” (To the tune of Jingle Bells).
Personally I have always liked the so-called Christmas season. It began as a child when our very Catholic teachers inculcated the concept of self-sacrifice as the meaning of Christmas. I won’t bore you with the Christ born in a stable, a manger for a crib story, but it’s not such a bad myth, not if you have the background for it and are able to think for yourself.
As I grew up I was surprised to discover that Christmas, even among fellow believers, was really a time for permissible “debauchery” whether in drinking or in sexual promiscuity at parties that lasted through the night and certainly in ostentatious consumerism. Maybe I was a “tight ass” but I didn’t hold to that sort of behaviour. Oh, I didn’t say much about it, but inside, I felt cheated. It’s like I’d been lied to when I was a child. Christmas to me was the baby Jesus. He wasn’t so much the Son of God and the great to be Redemptor or Saviour. Jesus was, according to my version of the myth, the child of very poor people, people who essentially had nothing. Jesus represented all the poverty of all of humanity all across the globe. His presence didn’t mean a miraculous intervention in the ever-frustrating affairs of men. It meant a challenge to me to understand.
To compensate, then, for what I saw of the horror of materialism, I created a “proper” sense of Christmas for myself. It wasn’t something that could be shared with friends, the few I had that came and went, or associates in school, and later at work. It was a “me” that sought to flesh out the meaning of Christmas as I had been (I reasoned) properly instructed about. The challenge was to resist the temptation of commercialism and focus on its diametric opposite: self-sacrifice through selfless service to others. The challenge was for me to become what the mythological story of Jesus had depicted.
When we open ourselves up to the world as a compassionate and empathetic person, we are met with a literal heart-breaking tidal wave of sorrow. Whatever can be said of man’s world it remains only too true that it is a very sad place. So for me, the “spirit of Christmas” message is the sadness of things.
Having lived my life in a sort of voluntary service of one sort or another, I don’t feel any need to go looking for happiness. Happiness certainly has flirted with me many a time, and many a time I have reciprocated. What’s wrong with a little flirting if there is no intent to take it further? But happiness is a dangerous emotion. It doesn’t want you to stop at the flirtation, it wants you to become a believer. It wants you to dedicate your life to chasing your own tail.
Happiness in that sense, and it is mostly always in that sense, is a chimera; it’s a lie. If you have to go looking for it; if you have to make it happen, it’s a lie. If it just happens to you here and there as you live your life as impeccably as you know how, following a life goal you set for yourself and if you are not being dishonest towards your life goal then there is nothing wrong with feeling happy. It’s an unexpected bonus. But that’s all. Spend it and forget it. The poison activates while going to look for more of that emotion. That is called greed.
So back to the simple theme of this essay: sadness. Having a choice between happiness or sadness as my own expression of Christmas I choose sadness. Sadness is the foundation of wisdom. What good is wisdom to the selfish, the pleasure seekers? A bother at best. If however one seeks to truly understand “the condition” of the world, sadness is the path. Sadness, not to be confused with despair which is just pleasure-seeking turned inside out, leads to deep introspection where honesty and humility become the guides. Sadness, I have found, is a great gift, misunderstood and maligned by a world plummeting into gross materialism, spiritual degeneration, depravity, pornography and sodomy.
There is a tendency in this “western” post-Christian society to blame the leadership for its problems. Yes, the leadership is quasi-absolutely corrupt, no doubt about that. But we need to realize it is us who are the movers and shakers. We insist we live in these great democracies. What is a democracy? For one thing it’s government of the people, by the people, for the people. Is that true of any of our forms of government? No, of course not, but we insist on believing it is true, we insist on spreading the propaganda. Hence and therefore if there is a problem with government leadership, the problem belongs to all of us. No, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.
If our leadership is corrupt it’s because we are just as equally corrupt, one and all. Put the “blame” where it belongs; be done with it; stop pretending and living in denial. We cannot say to ourselves, “There is nothing I can do about it” because there most certainly is! That however is an unpleasant fact. So, let’s just blame. Why not? It’s easy and there’s no personal responsibility involved.
This is the time of year when, by observation, everybody should feel a deep and intense sadness for this world. How can any self-respecting person chase after an emotion as ephemeral and evanescent as happiness? How can any intelligent person think they can buy it? I’ll tell you who does: every slave of the marketplace. The happiness of a slave does not last. It is always replaced by an intense time of loss and grief. Wait for them. If you listen quietly you can hear them goose-stepping down the street at midnight.