Thursday, December 04, 2014
It’s hard to imagine how far from the original Christmas story that of 2014 has diverged.
For one thing, there are nearly as many homeless people in the world of 2014 than the entire human population at the time of the Birth of Christ. For another, some human communities are more isolated from each other today, despite modern communication and transportation, than they were in Christ’s time.
This last assertion needs some explanation. Rulers in Christ’s time, equivalent to today’s top .01 percent, were subject to the same diseases, weather and life expectancy of the average of their subjects.
Rulers attended public events and ceremonies, traveled widely in their domains, had audiences with their subjects, led troops in battle and, when found wanting, were rather messily but finally replaced.
It was usually very clear who one’s “rulers” actually were, in ancient times. Today however those with maximum control over our lives are not actually in government. Their control over those who are in government is clear enough when government officials seamlessly travel between government bureaus, Congress, the executive, and lucrative lobbying jobs or sinecures in the private sector.
Even the pretense of disclosure of conflicts of interest was entirely swept away by the “Citizen’s United” decision, which projects the US, which once was rated among the top tier of accountable governments, onto a dark pathway toward the corruption level of, say, Pakistan—if unchecked.
Food and water safety, public education, public health, worker’s rights and compensation are under simultaneous assault today in this country, part of a world-wide trend.
The puppetmasters of all this distress have little regard for nationality and live their span of years in isolation the envy of the Emperors of China in their Forbidden City, moving in their private jets (one, I note, owned by a Saudi Prince, with its own gilded throne chair) from penthouse to yacht to guarded estate with barely a sniff of the air ordinary people breathe, or the heat and cold of ordinary life.
This elite class steadily widens its gap from ordinary humanity by every measure—life expectancy, birth advantages due to dynastic wealth, freedom from concern about the health of the planet, and disproportionate draw upon the earth’s resources to support its opulent lifestyle.
Back to Christmas and its message. Whatever happened to: “Whomever honors the least of these (the poor Jesus preached to) honors me”, or “blessed be the humble (or meek, in some translations) for they shall inherit the earth”? How do you compare the modest contribution of an elderly widow to a Salvation Army kettle to a check from a billionaire whose wealth came from “barely legal” fraud and extortion? Are they equivalent sacrifice in the spirit of Christmas?
What about the rest of us—do we isolate ourselves by addiction to our media devices, drugs (legal and otherwise), purposeful blindness to the needs and distress of others, frenzied shopping or celebrity worship? Is this, as the song lyrics ask, “All there is?”
How about those, in this Christmas season, plotting to impeach the President, dismantle government—(“Starve the Beast” comes to mind), or who are concocting new ways to use their offices to serve their puppet-masters with the expectation of generous reward. Scrooge and Marley were amateurs!
Of course, all who read this column will be honoring Christmas in its original spirit, and will, by example, be models for those clueless about the meaning of the season—we hope!
Have a THOUGHTFUL Christmas 2014–in the company of friends and family!
SAD TALLY–200 MILLION, WORLD POPULATION @1AD, (ditto) WORLD HOMELESS, 2014