This is a tricky holiday season. Although I never felt much cause to celebrate the official (if fabricated) date of the birth of Jesus, the reflective quality of the solstice season has always been a good opportunity to engage people in thinking and conversing about quaint ideas like peace on earth and the possibility of a truly cooperative, loving civilization. (Yes, I, too, was one of those kids who wished for world peace when blowing out birthday candles.)
But this year, with war occurring or looming almost everywhere we look, with fascism quickly becoming the White House modus operandi, and with religion serving more as an excuse for difference than a means towards tolerance, I find most people, and myself, reaching towards less universal goals. It seems enough to hope for a day or two of personal peace – a few hours to stop thinking about how terrible things might be, and to refuse to feel guilty for taking the break.
For most of us, things aren’t so bad. Sure, we are conscious of terrible stuff, but we are not subjected to most of this, ourselves. Many of us are basically healthy, still capable of thinking and behaving autonomously, and still able to laugh. That’s a lot.
Yes, there’s tremendous pain in the world, and tremendous cruelty. We might even be on an inevitable course towards our own self-destruction. But we still have the ability to make a difference, however small, in just how this all plays out – starting with our perception of our own relationship to it, and expanding out from there. We are in charge of something, here and now.
This is cause enough for celebration.