I am prone to putting my foot in my mouth, not infrequently. This blog likely is no exception.
This is the time of year when most people start to (are conditioned to?) “think of those who are less fortunate”, family and friends, including those that might have remained out of mind for a long time and feel the urge to do something to show compassion, kindness, love, gratitude or all of the above towards their fellow humans.
I have always loved the spirit of Christmas and sincerely believe that it tends to bring out the best in us. For at least a month or so, we get into the mood of “goodwill towards all”. Residents of snowed-in parts of the world especially enjoy the colorful festive lighting which dispels the gloom of long and dark evenings, adding a sparkle that helps lift the spirit. Spirits served at most celebrations also aid the process. One does not have to be a Christian, in the religious sense, to participate in all the Christmas related activities and feel a true sense of belonging and being a part of the “mainstream”. People of different faiths, generally, willingly join in to enjoy all the goodness that this Season has to offer.
But, it is also a very depressing period for many. People and Seniors living alone or not in regular contact with their families, youth and children from dysfunctional families, single mothers or parents with very limited income etc., start to feel stressed and anxious. Kids encounter peer pressure from other children who confidently expect Santa to fulfill their long wish lists. Volunteers at Food Banks, Soup Kitchens and several agencies that deal with mental health issues know how difficult it is for a growing number of people to manage their extremely limited resources. Some workers work extra shifts and long overtime hours, just to be able to provide a mere trinket that their beloved child stares at longingly, through the display window of a fancy store in a crowded fancy mall.
Internet shopping, aided and abetted by algorithms has turned most of us into compulsive consumers. Not only are there frequent reminders of what we “want” (not need), there is also a pressure to get it “now”. All of us have witnessed wanton consumer behaviour at Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day sales. Instant gratification is the new mantra.
In the latest episode of his popular show Patriot Act on Netflix, American comedian, writer and political commentator Hassan Minaj points out that in 2015, the greenhouse gases from textile production were more than the emissions of all flights and maritime shipping combined. He goes on to say that “If everyone bought one used item this year instead of new, it could save nearly 6 pounds of CO2 emissions – that’s equivalent to removing half a million cars off the road for a year.”
I know a few young kids, who some people like to call “old souls”. One of them is encouraging her family to donate funds to the Hospital for Sick Kids in lieu of a present for her, a few others have requested their families to contribute through agencies like SOS Children’s Villages, Feed the Children etc., that support kids in need around the world. These are the new emerging leaders and we adults have to look to them and youth like Greta Thunberg and Autumn Peltier to help shape a more livable and sustainable world for their generation.
In a world gone crazy, where nonsense is now more common than sense, it would not be out of place to play this version of “Joy To The World” instead of the similarly titled traditional carol. Three Dog Night group deemed this to be a “silly song” when they released it in 1971, the year – if memory serves me well – when I first walked in to a discotheque in Delhi.
A very Merry Christmas and the gift of Peace and Love to all!