Monday, December 19, 2016

Why I'm Skipping Christmas In My Heart This Year.

The entire house is full of Christmas song and spirit. I work at the Christmas market, where the holidays are literally business. On top of that, I try to fit all my holiday watch list into my barely existing spare time. Heck, I even went to Disneyland. And yet, this year Christmas has not stood a chance in my heart. Before I continue, I should probably express how Christmas is much more than a holiday to me and that I usually start looking forward to it in August. It's just the time of love, family and peace, where we all remember to be kind, give gifts to those we love, and yes, we love, and then love more. And that is why this year I have now decided to skip Christmas: not in what I do, but in my heart. There will be a tree, but there won't be a celebration. After the year we had it simply doesn't feel right.

I was watching a carol show this morning, and some terrible singer lipsynced a call for "peace on Earth". And that is why I cannot identify with Christmas this year. In my lifetime a situation like Aleppo has not happened: live death on TV, the internet and absolutely nothing done to stop it. This season of peace is anything but. To feel Christmas spirit only means to turn off the TV and close the eyes to the most drastic suffering I have ever witnessed. How some people react to this senseless act of violence also rarely reminds me of what Jesus would have done or wants us to do. As a result, celebrating love, peace and the salvation we acquired by the birth of a man who, according to our belief system, grants us peace even after death but not those who are quite literally dying in front of our eyes as we speak, is wrong. It just doesn't feel right. And sure, our Lord has mercy, and yet I cannot help but overlook the paradox of Christmas and Aleppo happening at the same time.

To me, personally, that means that for the first time in my life I had to ask myself if it is at all tasteful to forget about what is happening and just focus on the good news of Christmas. I have never felt this good news to be threatened more than in 2016, and my subsequent answer was that allowing that Christmas sentiment into my heart would be a disrespect. I usually feel lucky and grateful for my privilege, but right now I am feeling uncomfortable about it. I don't deserve sitting here in the warmth, forgetting about the cruel world out there, pretending that love is what makes this world go around. It has never been more obvious that love does NOT conquer all, and that compassion and kindness are not today's trending topics. If that was true, we wouldn't have a Brexit to prevent immigrants from entering a country, a president-elect who openly hates people and appoints Putin's friends to government positions and, most importantly, war in more countries than currently not at war.

At a carol service earlier today, there they were: the privileged people, sipping their mulled wine while singing about how happy they are about Jesus being born despite not having gone to church in years and going by "atheism" to save taxes. At this point it is absolutely hilarious, or should I say mind-blowing, that quite a few people who are shaking their head about the people of Bethlehem not taking Mary and Joseph in on the night of Jesus' arrival are also suggesting to have a maximum quota on Syrians escaping wars to this country. A Protestant and a Catholic minister had also appeared to tell the Christmas story, tastelessly comparing the suffering of Aleppo to all of our personal battles that we just need to give up to God. As a person who has little time for religion, I struggle to just believe that God's salvation will benefit Aleppo. I think most people agree with me that human action would probably help a lot more.

But, and this is important, action was lacking big time. No American or UN action, or anything to counter Russian action which should never have happened. Gone are the days where this fight was about democracy. Anyone believing in democracy needs to be against Assad, although parties to put support in instead are of course very few in number. But whatever got us there, whoever really is the evil side, this human catastrophe was 100% preventable. I have a lot of very moronic friends who support Assad and still call themselves believers in freedom, undermining everything we see as propaganda. You know, the way almost every dictator in history got their following by simply undermining truths and appealing to emotions. And this year we have had so much of that. It has been easy to emotionalize people in the wake of more than one political failure, and considering that 2016 is possibly just the beginning of this downward spiral that will lead us out of our value system makes me feel anything but all tingly inside. Tingles, sure, but due to nausea.

And of course I am aware that Aleppo isn't the first, or even the worst, catastrophe there ever was around Christmas, but this time we are all watching. It is impossible to miss people posting their last messages to social media on Facebook, and despite Assad turning off the internet or mobile services in Aleppo, of course not everyone died there. On top of that, we also heard about wars before, haven't we? This one isn't any better than all the others we vowed to never allow to happen ever again. Christmas feels wrong all the time. In 2012, after Newtown, Christmas in my heart was a stretch as well. I was also in Israel where many things reminded me of how the world has forgotten about Jesus' legacy. I cannot have Christmas in my heart. There is no room in my heart this year. It is filled with grieve for the numbness, helplessness and negligence I feel about Aleppo. There is no silver lining for people seeking freedom and not getting it because the entire world had interests they wanted to see through. My personal interest is freedom for everyone, and so this is a dark Christmas, because we are heading towards less freedom globally, and 2k16 was likely just the beginning...

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