Merry Christmas 2007, From Metro
Metro probably qualifies as a curmudgeon. I'm cynical by experience rather than temperament.
But I didn't want to leave the post below as my final thought on the season.
I've had a hard time plugging in this Christmas. Christmas is a tough time for an atheist. I felt a spark of what might be called Christmas spirit even as I stood on stage mumbling "and god bless us every one"--syllables that are, in their lexical simplicity, meaningless to me.
The question I am forced to ask myself is, as Scrooge once phrased it: "And what reason have you to be merry?"
Why should I feel that Christmas is any damn different from the rest of the year?
Chinese toy companies still use slave labour to flood the market with dangerous, sometimes poisonous crap that most of us don't need yet buy for friends because we don't know them well enough to get them something meaningful.
Donations wash in to charities in smaller amounts as the largest economy in the world lists heavily to port, while governments refuse to provide even the basic neccesities to their citizens, much less basic human rights.
Many of you will receive clothing and goods this year that are worth a month's salary or more for the people who are ruining their eyesight and health making them, as the "economic engines" roar on, fouling land, air and sea in an effort to ensure that North Americans can still buy useless crap for next-to-nothing with their shrinking dollars.
Governments the world over continue to maraud, torture, and kill. Usually in the name of some cause we can all support ... access to oil ranks highly.
What hope is there in any of this?
Quite simply, I tend to believe that there are very few actually evil people in the world. Most of what passes for evil is simply the result of a cascade of decisions beginning with one or more people who make the selfish choice rather than one their hearts or consciences tell them they should.
And there's always hope that that will change. There's always the odd selfless act from the unexpected source.
Think about it, the wallet returned with $3000 still in it. The anonymous donor who offers an organ for transplant. The sudden change of heart on the part of a town council that leaves a low-income housing building renovated instead of demolished.
And that's something that can happen year round.
I believe that we are improved by the selfless choices we make, and that the selfish ones don't always diminish us.
If I had one wish, apart from the world peace thing, it would, I think, be that each of us might make one less selfish decision this year.
Failing that, I'll settle for decisions based in the long-term or rooted in enlightened self-interest.
Deep down, I love people, bless their black, greedy wee hearts, and I believe that enlightened self interest is a force for good.
So merry Christmas to us, to the bastards and bitches, to the mean, the vile, the low, the cunning, and all the other rotten devils with whom we share this planet.
And God bless us, every one.