The Christmas Weakness

Yesterday, I read an old post by Andreas Moser about how he used to hate Christmas. It emphasized the point that this thoroughly Christian ritual is forever being rammed down everybody’s throat, no matter what religious beliefs they hold or do not hold.

And that’s true. But for many non-Christians, and I dare say for some Christians as well, the religious aspect is irrelevant; what matters is that Christmas is stable and recurrent, and that it gives you an opportunity to connect with the people you trust more than other people (it doesn’t have to be family), and also to rest.

With the stability and recurrence of any ritual, it makes those of us who always hurry to achieve more stop and consider what we have now. It makes us remember about those special people I mentioned – yes, we have forgotten about them again! It makes us consider the people that are missing, too. And other things.

Some of us don’t like to stop in our hurry, and for those, Christmas comes to unwanted rescue. Because sometimes, you just need to stop and think – about the life you’ve been living, about your relationships, about your problems and plans for the future.

And even if that moment when you stand alone by the window – if there’s anyone else, they’re busy talking, staring at the TV in a food coma or they’ve already gone to bed… Even if that moment is a dark one, difficult to bear and you don’t want it, I really think that the essence of Christmas is in there, too. Paradoxically, in the stability and recurrence of those solitary moments, you can learn a lot of new things.

And if churches benefit from our weakness for ritual? If they gather many more people than they usually do, and kindly, in a Christmas spirit, force their ideology upon them? Even if, in the end, they cash in on the fact that we want to feel connected, and need the stability and recurrence that religious ritual gives?

Well, that part sucks.

Of course, we could be stronger, and reject the religious aspect of Christmas. We could just focus on what’s more important for us: connecting with people, rest, self-reflection, the stability and recurrence of it. A ritual can do without a religious back story.

But I guess most people won’t do that even if they don’t like the religious aspect of Christmas. Perhaps they’re too attached to the Christmas they know from childhood, and in their minds it seems criminal to alter it in any way. Isn’t that so?

We follow in the old footsteps… whose footsteps these are, we don’t know. They’re old, so they must be right. We will continue in this way for a long time.

…But who can blame us for being weak?*

* In Poland, people say that one’s point of view depends on the point where one sits. So just to explain mine: I was raised Catholic in this very Catholic country but later lost personal interest in religion, and now I’m just watching how the church here piles up reasons to be rejected by the people but nevertheless remains privileged and strong.

Word Issues #8: Disrespect

This post is an experiment for me. I wrote it ten months ago and after I opened the file yesterday, it intrigued me because I didn’t quite remember writing it. And although I would write it differently now, I’m posting it here as is, only with some editing*.

 

Disrespect

When I was being prepared for confirmation (yup, actual Catholic confirmation) some eight years ago, the priest who taught religion at my school (yup, they actually “teach religion” in schools in my country) told us to make one forever-binding promise to God.

So I made the promise to myself instead that from then on, I’d respect every single person I meet.

I made this promise although I didn’t feel particularly respectful towards that priest at the moment. (Seriously, what kind of a moron makes teenagers make such promises?) Nor did I feel respectful towards many other individuals around me at that time.

I guess that in my own way, I was being idealistic: without actually idealizing anybody around me, I idealized my capability for kindness, respect, tolerance, and so on.

But the older I get, the more apparent it becomes that I can’t fulfill this promise. All those nicey-picey, cuddly-wuddly things like love, kindness, tolerance, and even respect, just aren’t there for everyone. I wish I had them in me at all times, but I don’t.

I lose respect when I see cruelty and stupidity.

I’m not tolerant of people who knowingly confirm all the bad expectations society has about them.

I’ve grown out of the belief that you have to be kind to those who have wasted their time on earth.

From the few of Charles Bukowski’s poems that I read, I liked one:

we are always asked
to understand the other person’s
viewpoint
no matter how
out-dated
foolish or
obnoxious.

one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
with
kindliness,
especially if they are
aged.

but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
badly
because they have
lived
out of focus,
they have refused to
see.

not their fault?

whose fault?
mine?

I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their
fear.

age is no crime

but the shame
of a deliberately
wasted
life

among so many
deliberately
wasted
lives

is.

The poem seems to be written from the perspective of someone young, and lacking in respect for the old ones who have aged badly.

My own disrespect transcends the categories of young and old. It’s trans-categorial, omni-present, and ever-growing. I can’t shake it, and I don’t think I will ever be able to do so.

If anything, it will get worse with age. I will be an old woman one day, hanging around and nurturing her misanthropy before it kills her. Actually, I can’t wait for this.

 

Well all right, I would probably write it pretty much the same way if I did it on the day I saw that stupid woman at the bus stop who was squeezing the hand of a boy, squeezing it hard with her big, fat, stupid hands of a grown-up and shouting just because the boy preferred to run around instead of standing in one place. Fuck you, woman at the bus stop.

And you who are reading this, please don’t get me wrong. I respect people and even like them but not when I see this kind of shit done.

 

* I know a fellow blogger who sometimes posts his short stories with little notes that he doesn’t remember writing them and stuff like that. It’s cheap but it works so I decided to try it.

Ask Jesus

Last Sunday during a demonstration against inhuman abortion laws that some people in my country want to be introduced, some guy appeared on the improvised stage and said that every woman who considers abortion should first talk about it to a certain long-dead religious leader.

He got whistled off the stage, which was understandable but nevertheless stupid and rude.

Anyhow, he got me thinking about this (apparently) virtuous ideal that so (inconceivably) many people have of seeking the advice of (probably) wise (reportedly) holy religious figures in (definite) authority.

I sometimes hear similar pieces of advice thrown at other people. “Talk to God” when someone has a moral dilemma, “God wants families to be together” when someone else is miserable in their marriage. People keep smearing their mouths with the name of Jesus to sound more authoritative when they announce their agenda, or to cover up the fact that they don’t know what to say.

It’s all so damn annoying. I’m not saying life is simple enough not to need any advice from anyone ever. But learning to make good decisions doesn’t have to mean learning it by memory from some religious or other authority. In fact, living a life, talking to people, and drawing conclusions is quite enough.

Where does the doubt come from that makes grown-up people yield the responsibility to decide about themselves to other people? …Can someone explain that to me?