Friday, December 25, 2009

A Round-Up of Christmas Day Messages

The Christmas Day is now over. My tenth Christmas away from home, of which the last six were in London. One always feels a bit sad to be away from everyone else on Christmas Day, particularly because, all shops are closed, there are no trains or buses and everyone else is busy with family. So, I spent time catching up on some reading and watching the tele, something I usually never manage to do. The news was boring too - not too much happens in Christmas anyway - but the most interesting thing was to contrast the four Christmas Day messages from five different sources.

Here is my summary:

The Queen: Her principal message revolved around Afghanistan. She said how deeply she feels about the families which lost their loved ones in the war. She talked about the commonwealth soldiers too, and their sacrifices.

She spoke with dignity and grace, as usual. It is her dignity which is currently sustaining the British monarchy, which is possibly in a terminal decline [despite King Faruque's observation at the time of his own abdication that there will be five kings left in the world, four of the cards and one in Britain].

But her sincerity strikes me as odd. Why mention these people who are fighting in Afghanistan and justify wars? Why do they have to kill other young men who will be missed by their families too? How long can the democratic societies like Britain can sustain the will to keep fighting expansionist wars?

Deep in my mind, I see the deep hypocrisy of using a Christian festival to feel proud for an unnecessary war that one has sent young people to die in. I have started thinking how deeply the message of Christianity was corrupted when it was turned into a state religion. The religion was used to justify what the ruler wanted to do; the Queen just continued the tradition.

The Archbishops of Canterbury & Westminster: The head of Anglican and Catholic churches in Britain chose a different theme, of that of Childhood. Dr Rowan Williams spoke in his usual reflective style and insights: He spoke about the disappearing childhood and quest of the real thing, the independence of adult life. He spoke about how our competitive, overtly consumerist society wants the children to pass their rather unnecessary, unproductive childhood as quickly as possible. The Archbishop of Westminster, giving his first address as the Head of Catholic Church in Britain, also spoke about protecting the childhood.

Very sincere and deep messages! On a different note, I noticed that two Irish Bishops handed in their resignation for the part they played in the horrifying child abuse inside the Catholic Church in Ireland. The crimes were largely unreported and unacknowledged even in the face of severe public criticism. The Catholic Church's refusal to do anything with the guilty showed how out of touch they are, and how the lack of accountability [except to God] undermines religion as an institution.


The Taliban: The Taliban released a video message showing a captured US Private. He has been captured some time back and was made to read a statement - appealing to the citizens of the United States to abandon the futile war. He spoke casually and deliberately, and talked about his decent treatment while the pictures of abuse by American Military in Iraqi prisons and Guantanamo popped up on the other side of the screen. It was a fairly well staged, but inhuman, propaganda attempt.

The Taliban, of course, got the Christmas understanding wrong. They could have shown their decency by releasing this soldier on Christmas day. However sympathetic message he may read, the whole gesture is surely barbaric. I noted that this man on the video was born in 1986: That makes him only 23.

The Woman in Vatican and The Passenger on Delta Flight: The woman in red jacket did it again. She jumped on the Pope in 2008, but was caught by the security. This time, she managed to time it better and knocked the Pope down. She said she was trying to hug him; the police said she was mentally unstable. On another side of Atlantic, a passenger reportedly set off fireworks inside a Delta flight. The flight was coming from Amsterdam. What a gesture?

So, here is my summary of the Christmas day 2009: The world is increasingly losing its bearing. The upper classes are managing to use religion to justify what they would want other people to do, but increasingly losing touch with reality. Those who oppose the global upper class has also suspended their humanity and increasingly looking like them. The religion looks lost, even on this one day when we are all supposed to return to the message, as the State has stolen its cause. And, the rest is becoming mad, by choosing the wrong man to hug and wrong place to do the celebrations.

However, we must end this day with hope, not despair. The only hope is that we may still manage to laugh at all this, particularly this collage of messages. BBC News at 6pm, as it were. And the last message is that last laugh - as long as we are able to laugh, the world has not gone to the dogs.

1 comment:

Supriyo Chaudhuri said...

In a rather unexpected development, it now seems that the passenger on the Delta flight was not celebrating by lighting firecrakers, but was actually attempting a terror attack with real explosives. This is bizzare, given all the security measures one has. But it makes my ability to laugh comment sound rather out of place: I can't.

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