I don’t feel like profusely thanking God that I’m forced to stay away from sweets, yet it’s something my folks would call a “blessing in disguise”. The reasons why I wouldn’t buy even a single chocolate yummy isn’t only emotional and mental but physical as well. It seems I now have a safety lock in my resolve to not do the usual things that I would be looking forward to for Christmas — that’s largely involving yummy yummy food and nice new things.
Then there’s also the decorations to be set up even when the Christmas tree is just a plastic imitation, there where I have lived all my life, and Santa with his thick clothes and reindeers in their sleigh are nothing more than just illustrative and illusions. The great majority of my folks have totally no idea what a real cold season means, and are not even aware of the great variety of conifers that exist or ever seen more than one kind.
Then we’d sing “Silent Night” along with “Winter Wonderland” without having the littlest idea of the theologies on Jesus of Nazareth, without the littlest idea of the hazards that snow and other solid forms of precipitation can bring. Would I be betraying those who feel that the extravagance of Christmas celebrations is essential when I say that, well, the great part of it is, uhm, a hoax? When one looks at the disparity between the real reason for Christmas and its popular image, globally, one can’t help but conclude that the bulk of it is irrelevant.
I did more than once heard it preached, by priests and pastors alike, that Christmas is supposed to be a daily celebration. But, man, how can that line of wisdom compete with the overwhelming sights, sounds and smells of the giddy frenzy of buying and cooking and eating and partying by only those who can? What about those who can’t afford to do so and at the same time have no idea that all these are, in fact, dispensable?
Oops, don’t read me wrongly. I do not mean disrespect. I value tradition and culture, in the way they bind communities and affirm living. I do like giving and receiving presents. I love to see my family gathered together in a special meal knowing that other families are gathered as well and that there’s general goodwill in the land and in the ones across oceans. I love the riot of colors and glitter that spring up everywhere many weeks before Advent. But where I have lived all my life electricity is expensive and so the Christmas lights is at the top of the list of things that make me cringe. “Fairy lights” are wonderful in the setting where they originated but transported into my tropical impoverished land they only make me think of unwanted heating and misplaced funds that should have gone to food and health.
It’ a blessing-in-disguise that I have no choice but to stay away from sweets, otherwise I would not be strong enough to resist perusing the arrays of enticing foodstuff inside an ordinary grocery store, here in the country where I find myself in now, which is one that employs nuclear energy and the best of technology; otherwise I would feel myself heroic in trying my best to be one with many of my suffering countrymen (over the recent hurricane and earthquake disasters). Dang, I really acquired a liking to those Turkish honeyed treats and now I can’t have them. Oh, well, half of my people can’t afford even a pint of ice-cream for years and years so why should I complain?
The issues involved are already much studied, such as poverty and wealth distribution. There’s an ocean of academics out there on these things. But man is man. Unless he chooses to pay attention then he cannot be coerced into engagement. And so life goes on. No one knows exactly where to. Would everything end up the way the movie A. I. (Artificial Intelligence) pictures it out to be, where the bios are no more and the world is run by software? As for now, for me here my comfort foodstuffs are just coconut, salted peanuts, and brewed coffee. With all the facts on poverty that I unearthed today my claim to these “comfort food” has become even a bit embarrassing.
I know I’m not alone in what I feel. I did find a newspaper article that I agree with in this, by a fellow countryman, and I’m glad that he and many like him think of things this way, too.
from an article by Mr. Allan S. B. Batuhan (Batuhan: A stolen Christmas?)
(copied from: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/business/2013/12/21/batuhan-stolen-christmas-319946)
“Mostly for the simple reason that many people don’t feel like celebrating, in the midst of so much suffering. Yes, suffering. Ordinarily, we Filipinos are accustomed to seeing hardship all around us.
Our political institutions are corrupt, our politicians steal our money, and our people hardly have enough to make ends meet. Contestants join TV shows not for fun, but because they are the only means they have of raising funds for whatever pressing need they have in their lives. Wherever we turn, there are always those who are in need of something.
But the events of 2013 have made even what is commonplace and normal, extraordinary and abnormal. The sight of a beggar on the side of the street is something, but the horror of looking at pictures of devastated homes, and hundreds of dead bodies piled up beside the road is entirely another. Hearts not ordinarily moved by the endless parade of street urchins caroling beside one’s car while stopped at traffic, are wrenched and gutted by the grim footage flashing on the evening news.
So the usual Christmas extravagance goes out the window. And in its place come gestures of generosity hardly ever seen in a country already so jaded by suffering.
Which in the end, is probably just as well, because it reminds us all of what Christmas really ought to be—to share what we have with the least, and the last in life. And as long as we are in this spirit, Christmas will always be alive and well.
[SOME FACTS FROM THE NET:]
Number of hungry people in the world
(copied from: http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm)
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties. There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries (FAO 2012).
The number of undernourished people decreased nearly 30 percent in Asia and the Pacific, from 739 million to 563 million, largely due to socio-economic progress in many countries in the region. The prevalence of undernourishment in the region decreased from 23.7 percent to 13.9 percent.
Latin America and the Caribbean also made progress, falling from 65 million hungry in 1990-1992 to 49 million in 2010-2012, while the prevalence of undernourishment dipped from 14.6 percent to 8.3 percent. But the rate of progress has slowed recently.
The number of hungry grew in Africa over the period, from 175 million to 239 million, with nearly 20 million added in the last few years. Nearly one in four are hungry. And in sub-Saharan Africa, the modest progress achieved in recent years up to 2007 was reversed, with hunger rising 2 percent per year since then.
Developed regions also saw the number of hungry rise, from 13 million in 2004-2006 to 16 million in 2010-2012, reversing a steady decrease in previous years from 20 million in 1990-1992 (FAO 2012).
The above is based on the new estimates of world hunger by the FAO using revised proceedures. It is worth noting that the new estimates give a different answer than the old estimates as the graph below shows (Lappe, 2013).
(below, copied from: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats)
“According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”Source 4
“Water problems affect half of humanity:
Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhoea.
The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water.
To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit.… The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses and labour diversions … are greatest in some of the poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa loses about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually, a figure that exceeds total aid flows and debt relief to the region in 2003.”Source 10
Regardless that things are always turned inside out and beaten willy-nilly I’d continue to affirm, by the grace of The Almighty, that life is good, and being alive is beautiful. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, wherever you are, whatever it means to you, even if you don’t celebrate it at all. Peace!
Thank you to the owners of the pictures. ♥♥