The True Spirit of Christmas: Compassion and Change

The spirit of Christmas

By Rommel Ramoutar

There is nothing like the Christmas season for the old (or older) to relive their youth and to wax nostalgically about Christmases past, and in particular about sweet memories of childhood.  Mind you, some of these memories of yesteryear can be distorted when viewed through rose tinted glasses.

Some view the passage of one Christmas season to another with a  measure of introspection whereby we see how our lives and those around us have changed . Busy as we were with the challenges of life, Christmas time served as wonderful period of fun and levity among loved ones.

The Christmas truce

The time that has passed between carefree childhood to Santa Claus and your grand kids, seems like a blur; but a lot has transpired in that span of time.  For the most part we became wiser and much more compassionate in coming to terms with the world around us. And a look at the world brings into focus the stark inequality, poverty and discrimination that is so entrenched in our societies.

While I do not view Christmas in any religious sense, I do believe that the idea of compassion and understanding among peoples and nations is one that is central to what the season stands for. And a story from WWI demonstrates that understanding among people can emerge at the darkest of times:

On Christmas day during the Great War, hostilities were interrupted when the enemy set aside animosity and fraternised with each other. They found they had much in common. Unfortunately, this genuine expression of the Christmas spirit was hastily discouraged, as it would weaken the resolve to fight if the soldiers began viewing each other as simply human. This shows that there is an inherent solidarity with us even when we are adversaries.

The Christmas season is an affirmation of how wonderful life can be, with a generosity of spirit and feeling of wellbeing for all.  No doubt, re-enforced and sweetened by Christmas carols wafting through the air with its simple, but direct calls for love and goodwill.  

On the other hand, we see the worse examples of human depravity in many who would never change, and no amount of goodwill that Christmas brings will halt a certain level of degenerate behaviour.  Unfortunately, many such characters wield an inordinate amount of power and make detrimental decisions on our behalf.    

We have seen the wanton destruction of societies by the powerful who never fail to tell us that the victims are the guilty one.

The mass slaughter of children and the support given to the perpetuators of these monstrous acts, shock us by the scale of its depravity, shutting out the light that Christmas brings. And, ironically, it is those who embrace the spirit of compassion by witnessing and exposing the depravity for all to see, are the ones who suffer.

Even so, we must salute them for acting in the spirit of Jesus whose birth we are celebrating. They could not wish for a better mentor.

And so, I raise a toast to the compassionate, the generous, the witnesses, and those who are counted because they stood up in the face of injustice. This is in the spirit of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all.