Thursday, 26 December 2013

Beyond Christmas OR Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All?

Come Boxing Day, we may well already be starting to look beyond Christmas. Oh, but if only the spirit of Christmas - and other religious festivals - might endure, messages of peace and love be heard around the world, especially in those parts where bitter conflict persists. Fat chance, little hope, beautiful dream ...? Why so, given that where there is the will there is (supposedly) a way...?  

As a child, I once asked a complete stranger standing next to me at a carol concert, what happened to 'peace on earth' and 'good will to men' after hearing 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day' at a carol concert. He did not hesitate, but replied in two words, politics and religion. I thought he was being sarcastic. Some 50+ years on, I look around and see only too plainly what he meant. On the arre occasions I have heard that particular carol  - based on a poem by Longfellow - sung again, i understand his despair and only wish I could enter into his ultimate optimism for the human race. Even so, hope springs eternal...and if we all play our part, who knows...?

Now, I have friends who are Christians and feel I am missing out because I don’t believe in God in any religious sense but take what I like to think of as a sense of spirituality from nature. 

Well, as I see it, no religion is all about its interpretation of God, but also about humanity. (Interpretations of God as a homophobe are as absurd as they are pathetic.) Take the humanity out of the religion and what's left is not worth having. (Fundamentalists haven't a clue!) Nor does religion have a monopoly on spirituality.

Now, whether we choose to believe in God or not, all world religions have much to say about humanity that is well worth listening to; some would do well to pay more attention themselves. It may well be that any given religion is a closed shop, members only, but interpretations of it remain open access to anyone at all times.

In those parts of the world where people are still persecuted for their sexuality and/or democratic principles, we can but wish them peace and love. As for their persecutors, especially those arrogant, evangelical types who are a plague on all our houses, (especially in parts of Africa) but other bigots and despots too, whatever socio-cultural-religious excuses they may care to make for their behavior, they would do well to remember that what goes around invariably comes around…


Christmas spirit can’t always connect
with peace in parts of a sorry world
divided by crises, all failing to reflect  
even hidden meanings in the word

Wherever colour, sex, sexuality or creed
tell dark tales, let light in, hear love call
by way of answering a basic human need,
body, mind, and spirit seeking to fulfil

Where mortality respects no boundaries,
conflict deaf to cries for a lasting peace,
love continues to tell its beautiful stories,
bring hope to each and every one of us

Christmas says much for love’s spirituality,
common even to a divided humanity 

Copyright R N. Taber, 2007; 2013

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revided ed. in e-format in preparation.]

No comments :