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Merry Christmas

Dec 23,2018 - Last updated at Dec 23,2018

Once again, it is that time of year. It is the season to be jolly and I take pleasure in wishing a very merry Christmas not only to my Christian friends, but to everybody.

Christmas this year coincides with the 175th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s wonderful novel: “A Christmas Carol”, and I admit without shame that Ebenezer Scrooge is my absolute favorite Dickensian character. A Christmas Carol became an icon of the season because it does not focus on religious symbolism but it epitomises the spirit of Christmas. 

You see, Christmas is not only for Christians. It is for all humanity. This is why I was shocked when in the US, my friends to whom I wished a merry Christmas corrected me that this wish is not politically correct and that I should wish people “happy holidays”.

Once again, political correctness reduces the sublime to the silly. Holidays can be had on any day, but Christmas is unique because it is not about seasons and symbols. It is about people being good to one another.

This is what the great American thinker Benjamin Franklin meant when he said that a good conscience is a continual Christmas.

Of course, this is not intended in any way to undermine the connection between Christmas and Christianity. It merely emphasises that the humanity of the Christmas spirit gives its message universality. 

During World War I, for instance, all the antagonists marched to war with a spirit seen today only in football hooligans, all secure in the conviction that God was on their side. Religious consciousness and observance did not prevent the bloodshed, which was probably one of the most extensive in human history. 

But on Christmas Eve, soldiers laid down their weapons and came out of their trenches to join hands. They had a game of football, ate Christmas dinner together and amicably exchanged cigarettes in a spirit of human brotherhood. 

On that occasion, they were not acting as French, German, British or any of the other nationalities and religions that were present at the theatre of war. They were only young people who celebrated their humanity together. This goodwill is the spirit of Christmas.

Of course, there are times when goodwill seems to be a rare commodity. It would be hard, for instance, to believe that the government feels any goodwill towards us, judging by the laws and measures which it enacted during the past year. The public, for its part, feel that they reciprocate the same sentiment in their protests every Thursday.

This is where the Christmas spirit can be helpful. It reminds us to think of the good moments we had last year and to count our blessings. 

Unfortunately, this argument is often used disingenuously to promote quiescence in the face of injustice, but nevertheless, scientific research shows that focusing the mind on happy thoughts leads to a happier life and even promotes better mental and physical health.   

So, hoping for many happy days ahead, I wish you all merry Christmas.

 

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