Some Thoughts On Christmas Day 2021

In many parts of the world today, people are celebrating the birth of Jesus. At least, they think that is what they are doing. In actuality, many are caught up in a maelstrom of consumerism foisted upon us by the commercial world, which has made it more about buying stuff than thinking deeply about the reason for the season.

A few years ago, some religious organizations implored us to “Keep Christ In Christmas,” but we don’t hear much about that anymore. Instead, we have a welter of “Black Friday” sales events that encourage us to Buy! Buy! Buy! Some stores start playing Christmas music and promoting pre-Christmas sales campaigns in September. A cynic might say the only god we worship today is commerce, which preaches that “greed is good.” I’m not much for organized religion, but I am reasonably certain the appearance of Jesus upon the Earth was not meant to further the interests of the merchant class.

In 2008, the Christian Science Monitor published an article about the teachings of Jesus. Here is a small part of that article:

“Two thousand years ago, that biblical command was spelled out in response to a questioner, asking which is the greatest commandment. The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ answer: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ (22:37-39).”

To me, that’s pretty much the essence of Christianity. I confess I am mystified by how many people say they are devout Christians but loathe most of their neighbors. In my view, you can’t have it both ways. If you love your neighbors, you get to call yourself a Christian. If you don’t, you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

If you are wondering what any of this was to do with clean tech, here’s the answer: Changes in the environment have a profound effect on where people live. During the last Ice Age, humans from Europe and Britain migrated toward the Mediterranean Sea ahead of the advancing sheets of ice. When the glaciers melted, they moved back north. There were no national borders or armed troops to impede their movements.

Today, as the planet gets hotter, people are on the move again but this time there are national borders and armed troops to prevent them from crossing those borders. It is going to take a profound belief in the commandment to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves” to apply that teaching to those seeking to escape the ravages to their native land caused by global heating.

The ultimate irony is that those seeking to migrate are those who played the least role in causing the planet to overheat, and the ones working hardest to keep them out are those who played the greatest role. How can we demonize people after we helped cause their native lands to become uninhabitable?

History is replete with tales of people being inhumane to other people. What is war but an excuse to exterminate others in the most gruesome ways possible? How can anyone who purports to be a Christian justify killing others? And yet most wars are prosecuted by leaders who strenuously assert their firm commitment to Christianity.

Jesus may have implored us to love one another, but humans have difficulty putting His words into action. Satarist Tom Lehrer once wrote a little ditty about this to celebrate National Brotherhood Week, which purports to espouse many of the same values as the teachings of Jesus.

Then there is marvelously biting commentary on Christian charity by the Chad Mitchell Trio that asks whether backward nations should be allowed to join the brotherhood of man.

Finally, for your amusement this Christmas Day, there is this ditty from the Kingston Trio sung at a time when a nuclear holocaust was very much on the minds of most people. As the US and China ramp up their nuclear weapons programs once again, that ending may not be so far fetched anymore. In fact, a nuclear winter may be the perfect antidote to global warming.

Are you feeling the love? No? Maybe that’s the message we need to take away from this Christmas Day. Solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars are all very nice, but if we can’t all get along, what’s the point? Why save the Earth if our primary mission is the destruction of others? And so, let me close by offering this advice — simplistic though it may be — from The Beatles:

Love. It’s all we need, but so hard to do. As Ebenezer Scrooge says in A Christmas Carole, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” I promise to do the same. Will you join me?


 

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