I have very mixed feelings about Christmas and all that it implies in the countries which celebrate this age old Christian/pagan festival. I am not a believer in organised religion, for most of them I view with a mixture of cynicism and despair. But at the same time I like to think myself tolerant of those who do profess faith in such institutions. So long as they don’t try to dictate or violate my own search for spiritual awareness.
The doctrine of peace and goodwill is mighty fine, but is Christmas the only time to preach such ideologies? It will mean very little to the people in Ulster, a strongly religious country, I’m afraid. That country will need more than carols, turkey and the Queen’s speech to heal the festering wounds that scar it and its population. I doubt if the Pope’s message to the world will do much for the bitter Orangemen of Belfast, or even the extremists of Catholic Londonderry.
What will Christmas mean to Vietnam, apart from extra rations for American troops. It won’t make the destruction of crops, fields and villages as well as the continual massacre of innocent civilians an easier burden for that truly God forsaken country to bear.
Even here in Great Britain, will the few days of loosening up and declaration of love and friendship for the rest of humanity, really mean anything will be different once the holiday is over. All the fine words and gestures are soon forgotten as New Year’s Day hangovers take their place. Do black people really expect to be treated as equals next year as a result of Christmas? Will women suddenly find themselves freed from the oppression of being classed second class citizens? Will material wealth still be the most popular way of assessing a human being, rather than looking for strength of character or conviction? Am I expected to believe that gays will no longer be classiFied as sick or perverted, and be released from the intolerance and misunderstandings that have been their lot throughout the course of history.
I’m not as bitter as I may sound. It’s just that I would be kidding myself if I thought Christmas could really do anything it is supposed to do, except increase the ringing of cash registers, worry parliament with rising inflation figures and kill a few score more people on our roads. I truly wish that the dreams of Christmas were as real as advertising executives make them seem, but the world has got to change and evolve a great deal before this period of over-indulgence and mass commercialism will mean much more than heartburn and lots of empties.
Christmas for many hard working people is a holiday and a time for relaxation and enjoyment. I like to think that I fit into this category of reveller. But I have no time for bigots and hypocrites who, for a couple of weeks preach religion and righteousness, and before you know it are back into the same non-thinking, exploitative patterns they left on the 24th December.
Despite my lack of conFidence and somewhat harsh attitude towards the Christmas ‘spirit’, I hope that you all will have a good time, and perhaps give a little thought to the injustice and inhumanity so many have to endure. As gays we know something about that. So isn’t it only right that we should at least be aware of the plight of countless others.