I am often asked how and why I celebrate Christmas, I assume this is because I come from a Catholic family, I fell in love with a Muslim, and I work in the community development where I am confronted by various forms of social and economic depravity every day.

Usually I answer by saying that I celebrate at Christmas time because it is a nice thing to do and because my family get together and spread happiness. Other times I remind people that Muslims acknowledge Mary and Jesus and hold them in a very high regard, also I point out that even Catholics realise that Jesus’ birthday wasn’t really on December 25th, it just makes sense to pick a day that everyone can remember to celebrate peace and good will to all. Sure we should be nice all year round, but we are only human.

In truth however? My feelings around the Christmas season can be best summed up in the song “Happy Xmas (War is Over).”

“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?
Another year over, a new one has begun.
A merry, merry Christmas,
Have a happy new year,
Let’s hope it’s a good one,
Without any tears.”

These simple lyrics sung by John Lennon over a choir of children’s voices singing “war is over, if you want it, war is over now.”

There are not many days of the year when Australians stop and get together. Some people do it in the name of religion, others do it because they have a few days off work and the opportunity to catch up with those who are near and dear to them, others still do it because they like presents, food and friends…. Whatever the reason, let us do what John Lennon suggested and end the wars and tears.

His advice can be taken on a number of levels – on an individual level we can look back over the past year, and let go of any personal grudges or grievances we may have and look to a new year without tears and without our personal wars.

As a community we can look at those who have been crying over the last year for whatever reason – refugees, the sick, the lonely and the marginalised – and do what we can to help them overcome their obstacles…. This may mean volunteering, this may mean donating money or goods or it may mean pressuring governments to change policies and to provide supports to those who fall victim to systemic failures in Australia.

Internationally – we need to stop the wars. Some would argue it is more complicated than this, but as usual, my beloved and direct six year old has called Australian adults out. On Christmas Eve he asks me, “Mum, have all the wars stopped yet?”
“No darling, there are still some wars happening in the world.”
“Why not? You know people are getting hurt.”

Although the there may well be economic and political reasons for war, and justifications that politicians will sell is with reckless abandon there is not a sine reason, excuse or explanation I could sell my son who on Christmas Eve was rightly pointing out to me that wars kill people and there is no reason why we should continue to let this happen.

With the fact that a six year old appears wiser than our current world leaders I mind, I want to end 2014 with the words of John Lennon and the hope that we the grow ups of the world come to our senses and stop the wars.

“…And so happy Christmas,
For old and for young.
Merry merry Christmas,
Have a happy new year,
I hope it’s a good one
Without any tears.”

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