There’s much work ahead for the year 2020

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

End of the year summons a retrospective view of the year’s key events both at the national and international levels. Things look rather grim in many parts of the world. Do not import other people’s problems? We have enough of our own, some would say. Fine. There is a time for everything. Festive season ahead, log off and relax. Forget that we are living in a wired world night and day, or that satellites in the air and cables under the seas connect everyone to everything under the sun. In the forefront among the wired crowd worldwide, blessed be the teenagers. And they may thank Israel for the mobile phones! In the streets and everywhere, they are either listening to music or texting messages to friends. Carpe diem! Make the best of the few innocent years ahead before confronting the vagaries of life.

So, look forward to some respite before welcoming 2020 AD, anno domini, in the year of our Lord Jesus, who is celebrated first before the new year on 25th December. This had been initially the birthday of Mithra, the Sun god in ancient Persia. Some historical and cultural context to the story is helpful here. Thus, the Jewish festival Hanukkah precedes Christmas, of course, because Judaism is the father of religions in that part of the world. The Romans decided to give Christianism other festivals and borrowed two of them from Judaism for free and forgot the debt. Paganism was the background of the religious narratives of heroes and evil-doers, which Jews also tend to forget, the epic of Gilgamesh, the arch of Noah, the pristine garden of Eden, the Deluge, the sacrifice of heroes for mankind, the last meal, Cena, animal sacrifice, the winter Solstice of the Celts and so on. All these embedded in myths and legends from times immemorial which rendered the idea of godliness close to the hearts of simple folks in their daily lives. Then everything changed irreversibly.

It is also interesting how all ancient civilizations looked up to the Sun, the life-giver, and wonder why some peoples afterwards turned their back to the sun and what they have lost as a result.

What matters is that Rabbi Yeshua preached compassion and love for others, and offered to serve as a spiritual guide to God. The Romans were so inspired, besides being militarily powerful in those days, that they set up the first multinational body to spread the good words of the Gospel in all the countries where their armies and governors ruled over the local populations. Others in the Middle-East enrolled in the Roman army and learnt the art of warfare from them, which was transmitted to future generations together with the same efficiency of applied imperialist strategy to spread their own belief, conquer and dominate.

The magic of Christmas warms up hearts in the cold winter, gathers whole families around Christmas meals, brings a world of enchantment to millions of children and revives compassion for the needy and the poor so that they might benefit from generous handouts of food and gifts from fellow countrymen.

While the most famous Jew is celebrated after his death, two millennia later the absurd blame for deicide on Jews is unfortunately still alive in many Christian countries, reinforced by wild allegations against Jews for everything that goes wrong under the sun. This has bred anti-Jew hatred and leads to taking the lives of innocent people in the US and Europe, and sadly has spread among others coming from the Middle-East and North Africa who have actively joined in the chorus of haters in Europe. Such animosity against Jews and Israel means that 2019 has been a bleak year for the tribe of Jesus.

It’s better to fall back on the spirit of Christmas which combines both festivity and love for gods in the pagan world, along with piety recommended that leads the faithful to follow the path of spirituality in their quest for light. Atheists blithely ignore the spiritual aspect though it may bring some comfort to them. Unfortunately, other believers who owe so much to the tribe of Jesus instead feel uncomfortable with Christmas and its joyousness, why they themselves know! We just wish that, occasionally, by logging into past history, the world and beliefs of their forefathers, those who live in denial may find some sanity, acknowledge everyone’s contribution to history and settle down for peace.

On Christmas Day, let us hope that the Pope, the United Nations and the leaders of Christian countries who have shied away from doing so stand up to defend Christians who are persecuted and killed in countries by extremist elements. We also wish that the UN gets its priorities on human rights violations… right and does act selectively when it comes to some parts of the globe. Big and small countries have to participate in the endeavour to bring justice to the world. There’s much work ahead for the year 2020 anno domini, Good Lord! Let us connect to the centre of our self and spread light, love and truth among our fellow human beings.

* Published in print edition on 20 December 2019

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