Scrooged: Losing Christmas and the Best of Ourselves
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
I’ve been somewhat remiss in posting on a regular basis lately. The Maggmeister and I have been a tad busy getting ready for Christmas.
Like most people, we had a tree to set up, a house to decorate and gifts to buy and wrap. Because my back has been giving me some trouble lately, Maggie did most of the heavy lifting with that. We also had some very nice folks over on Saturday which meant a lot of extra housework and food to prepare. Neither Maggie nor I are very good at estimating how much food and drink will be required which means that we now have enough left over hors d’oevres, baked ham and sundry Christmas treats to last until early spring.
Being busy hasn’t kept me from watching what’s going on though; it has only managed to delay me from commenting on it.
It’s only a week until Christmas but based on the relentless barrage of acrimony I see in some mainstream and all over social media, you’d never know it. It’s like a majority of us are collectively spitting out “Bah, humbug”.
There’s the continual argument about the war on Christmas and to be honest, I don’t know who are worse; the politically correct who think that Christmas (which most of them celebrate in one form or another) is somehow offensive to non-Christians or the extreme defenders of Christmas who believe that the best way to demonstrate the spirit of Christmas is criticize, attack and demean everyone with whom they disagree.
Christmas has nothing to do with anger or retaliation and everything to do with giving, compassion and sharing our common humanity.
It’s sometimes difficult to remember that Christmas is a time of peace and goodwill to all.
The fact is that regardless of what both sides want to think, Christmas is doing just fine thank you very much. More than 2 billion Christians and another 1 billion non-Christians will celebrate Christmas around the world and that is more people than celebrate all other religious festivals combined.
Christmas has survived repeated attempts to eradicate it and the religion from which it springs. It has survived persecution, ridicule and war. It has survived secular consumerism and gaudy marketing and it will quite easily survive the politically correct who aren’t so much opposed to Christmas as they are desperate to find things about which to be offended.
Personally, I find the war about the war on Christmas to be tiresome and adolescent and I particularly blame the self-righteous who profess to be defending Christmas in a manner and spirit that has no relationship to the meaning of Christmas whatsoever.
Last Friday, Industry Minister James Moore made a remarkably insensitive and stupid comment about the poor and the school breakfast program. It was stunning for its lack of just basic decency and compassion.
That caused a significant backlash in the media and online which caused Mr. Moore to hurriedly apologize for his comments.
Since then there has been new criticism from the hard-right accusing the minister of ‘caving’. It makes my head feel like it’s going to explode. Those self-righteous critics have decided that the only reason children go to school hungry is because of bad parenting. Poverty has nothing to do with it.
Isn’t that a convenient rationalization!
Many of these folks are the same who criticize progressive governments, like the Ontario Liberal Government, for killing jobs and driving middle class families into poverty. Apparently once that has happened, you are no longer entitled to sympathy or support, you are responsible for the poverty you now face.
It is established that 1 in 4 children do not get enough food to eat. Whether it is at breakfast, lunch or dinner is a moot point. Food banks have become a permanent fixture in our cities and they can’t keep up with demand. Many of the working poor hold down more than one job which forces them to leave their children to get themselves ready for school. Those sanctimonious hard-core conservatives who have never experienced poverty find it all too easy to criticize a circumstance they have never lived and the people trapped in it.
This is Canada. We are a country that used to care about our neighbours regardless of their political ideology or their economic circumstance. We instituted programs through our governments to guarantee a consistent delivery of things like school breakfasts rather than have an inconsistent funding strictly based on donations from the public.
We see what happens to our food banks when donations drop off.
So what’s wrong with that? Why is providing a meal to children such a terrible thing? Is the Conservative’s $500 non-refundable tax credit for middle class kids to play hockey really so much better than the school breakfast program? Have we really become so mean-spirited and petty that we consider feeding poor children to be just one more rape of taxpayer dollars?
I think an even more important question is, “Is this really the Canada that conservatives are building?” Christ in Heaven I hope not but increasingly it appears to be.
In 1989, all federal political parties voted unanimously in the House of Commons to devote their best efforts in a unified effort to eliminate poverty by the year 2000. It is now the year 2014 and poverty is alive and well in this country and a federal cabinet minister who apologized for dismissing poverty as merely a provincial matter is being criticized for his apology and the poor are being blamed for their own circumstance.
Some of the commentary I’ve seen on this issue and Christmas in general from hard-right conservatives makes Scrooge look positively philanthropic even before the ghosts arrived to straighten him out.
There is a war on Christmas but it isn’t from the politically correct. They’re merely annoying. The real war is the war being perpetrated every day by the hypocrites who profess certain values they don’t live; a hard-core right wing that has reduced our common humanity down to nothing more than being taxpayers and every issue measured by tax dollars.
Nelson Mandela was a great man and people around the world honoured him for his insight and his humanity as he was laid to rest this past week. He said this about poverty.
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
I have no idea whether or not Nelson Mandela celebrated Christmas but he kept it in his heart. He practiced the true values that Christmas embodies: compassion, forgiveness and respect. They are the same values that conservatives have always practiced until now. I doubt very much that were he alive today that he would be trying to rationalize child poverty as merely bad parenting.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” –Nelson Mandela
It appears some of us still have much to learn about things like compassion and good will to all. This conservative government and its hard-core supporters have been given the political opportunity to be great but have failed to answer the call. I believe they have exchanged the true meaning and spirit of Christmas for a mean, petty grey holiday as devoid of its humanity, values and colour as the country they are creating.
Scoorge: “It was only that you were a good man of business, Jacob.”
Marley: “Business? Mankind was my business. Their common welfare was my business!”
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others
Let’s connect on Twitter: @maggsbear or send a friend request on Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear