Time to help
Photos: Charity bazaar in Munich, 6.12.2015
Cristmas and charity. Christmas and open-hearten kindness. These words have become almost synonymous ages ago. Have you ever wondered why? Why Dickens’ figure of a greedy old man, who does not want to show kindness even on Christmas, impresses so strongly as to make an English word for miserly person – scrooge?
At first, the question looks simple. Why do we want to donate, to do good deeds just before Christmas? It’s clear! The Magi came to worship the newborn Jesus and brought the gifts. Therefore, each child shall get some on this feast day. And if children get presents, why elders should be forgotten? And if the elders get it, why not give presents to everybody? After all, there must be justice! But what about those who do not know the biblical stories? Do you believe there are none in our latitudes? I am afraid you are wrong.
Several years ago, a TV crew asked random visitors of the Christmas market in Munich: what is the reason of the celebration? (It shall be noted that the German word Weihnachten is not self-explanatory) As expected, they found that some people – quite adult ones – had no idea. This episode should probably be funny, yet it reveals a rather morbid side of the modern society of the day: the complete detachment from the historical and cultural roots.
It would be interesting to know whether these naively ignorant people of also donate more (or at all) in the Christmas season . Do they also feel the urge to help others? And if it is so, why? Perhaps the cold and hardship of winter reminds us that not everybody has a warm hat on his head and a turkey in the oven? Again, we come to justice. Though, now it has nothing to do with the so-called “traditions”.
I believe this brings us to the key word of the context. It seems a good taste nowadays, to regard everything related to religion as “tradition”. In this way, you display yourself as a progressive intellectual who nevertheless respects the uncivilized past with all its relics.
To pray before dinner? Of course! A very nice “tradition”! Visiting church at Christmas or Easter? An excellent “tradition” that unites the family! Charity fairs? A very useful “tradition”! Do you feel the bitter aftertaste of this word? Where does it come from? I believe that the words we choose have a huge impact on our way of thinking. We only need to repeat sufficiently many times “traditions” and “legends” – and the events so designated will be derived of life and reality. They will turn to empty tales that cannot affect our souls. Well, perhaps these tales will remain edifying – but what is this of value as compared to the life force able to change the nature of our heart?
Many Orthodox dislike the word “magic”. But I do not. And it goes very well here. I want to believe that a true magic happens something magical in the period prior to this all-important hard on our poor earth. A star flies past enlightening the faces of passers-by. And people look around and recognize in amazement: We are all one! This is me, and this is me too. And the homeless cripple there – well that’s me too! And something great will happen very soon! We have to hurry up to be in time for it! But what to hurry up for? I know it! I give away a part of me and, amazingly, this will make me fuller! For that I give it to myself!
No tradition, no justice, mere magic.