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The Blanket of Christmas


I love the season that celebrates and reminds us of peace on Earth and good will to all.


Millions of Christmas cards are written announcing our communal thanks for each other’s friendship and beacon great wishes for a new year to come.   The hustle and bustle of shopping for presents is a communal right of the season, whence strangers are seen as fellow travelers in a common voyage. 


What’s not to love -- all the Christmas parties, where one talks to friends for hours on end, about things that matter little in the great scheme of life, exchanging promises of getting together at some future date, exchanging stories and jokes, cavorting and acknowledging a shared sense of the ‘real’ while dousing ceaseless drinks of spiked egg nog ? 

Everything about the season is like one tremendous blanket that seems to be wrapped around us, insulating us from the cold weather as well as from the cold reality of the world somewhere out there, beyond the glitter of the lights,  mistletoe and evergreen decorations. 


The ubiquitous sound of Christmas music surrounded by unending packages replete with promises of pumpkin pie, caroling, family gatherings and tabletops replete of food.  One  can’t escape the season no matter how hard one might try. And if mother nature complies with even a dusting of the white stuff, then its official, the season that exemplifies Christianity’s tradition comes invading the spirit with a promise of peace and tranquility.

Amid it all, the abundance of gifts, gadgets,  food, one must recognize that it is also a celebration of capitalism, it is the time of the year when most of the commerce that fills cash registers and corporate coffers alike, occurs.  Merry Christmas is a call to profits, and all in a vein of good will, but not all of humanity shares in the blanket of Christmas, because it is an exclusive club. 


There are approximately 2 billion Christians around the world, 223 million in the U.S. alone, amid a world population of 6 billion.   Most of the world, Christian or not, will not share in the parties, or caroling, or exchanging of presents, or even in exchanging Christmas cards. More than 1.2 billion people earn less than $1 per day, and instead of preoccupying themselves with presents at Christmas instead find themselves in a constant battle for survival.  While the life expectancy in the industrialized world hovers at between 70 to 80, (the U.S. is 77.2) most people in the continent of Africa will never see their 50th birthday. In that continent, only 46% of women, and 40% of men  reach the age of 65, the lowest proportion in the world. 


I could never quite understand why most people are so concerned with helping victims of natural disasters like earthquakes, and of late Tsunamis, events that man could not prevent, but yet show little, if any real concern for the thousands of victims who die every year from preventable causes like poverty, famine, and disease in places like the African continent-- raising little concern among the world’s richest inhabitants.  As the blanket of Christmas wraps itself around me, I for one, am uncomfortable with the fiction that we create for ourselves, with the splendor and exuberance of excess, while many in the world about us suffer.  In this of all seasons, why do we insulate ourselves from recognizing the depravity suffered by so many fellow humans ?  Why don’t we as a human race resolve to do something about it ? Are we so callous, or are we just so ignorant ? 



World Hunger and Poverty

Teams to end world poverty

U.S. life expectancy average is 77.2 years. The average for the continent of Africa is just 53 years.



Posted  December  31, 2004

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