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