We can do without sadness at Christmas
My sympathy goes out to all who have lost loved ones in the season that should represent peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.
It is a wake-up call when this leaves the confines of media reports and cuts close to home and friends, and the perspective of life in a savage land confronts us all. So in my immediate circles we are all still in shock after the brutal murder of a young man at the Constant Spring Golf Club last week.
But in the midst of our collective grief we need to know that we are not alone in sadness, and merely join the hundreds of thousands of our fellow Jamaicans who have lost and continue to lose loved ones to violence in this country that loves to boast that we are a "Christian" country.
I am in no doubt that Jesus Christ and His Father had no plans to encourage or sanction brutality and murder as a part of their teaching.
The fundamentals of the Old Testament speak to the Law of Moses aka the Ten Commandments, specifically "Thou shalt not kill" and "Love thy neighbour as thyself". So with all the professed "Bible thumpers" where is the fundamental resistance to violence that should be outside the closed spaces of churches, and taken into the public arena in a most demonstrative way?
Sadly, the mothers and fathers, relatives of known murderers, will sit in church today and seek salvation by absolution only, rather than the substantive act of repudiation.
My limited knowledge of religious matters suggests that "Jesus will wash away our sins" is not a singular doctrine. It is in fact followed by many persons who cry to be "washed in His blood" and being born again. As I say, my naïve thought is that this does not mean being washed in the blood of our fellow citizens, but perhaps I am wrong.
I am willing to be soundly corrected if in fact the practice of acceptance and condoning of murder is in fact a Christian principle.
The sadness of the association of the Yuletide season with the memories of loved ones that have been taken by violence, or even other causes that may be quite natural, brings depression to thousands of those who remain behind, and who have lost faith in the fairness of life, and for some, even in the goodness of God.
This in a so-called Christian country needs great attention from the Church, the Government, and the citizens themselves. Needless to say the order of society continues to be threatened in ways that threaten the very fabric of survival, civility, and puts us in the path of anarchy and chaos. It cannot be allowed to continue and we must have a general agreement on the strict measures that must be taken to preserve our nation.
Last week, two significant events caused me to think seriously about life here. On Tuesday, December 11 my late father would have been 118 years old, and today I will share in the christening of my youngest granddaughter Noa in Port Antonio.
I am challenged to think that between 1894 and 2012 we have not made the choices that will create a better world for succeeding generations to grow and receive wholesome nurture. It seems that prayer alone will not cause an improvement and therefore we must each consider our individual and collective actions to avoid disaster.
What account will we be able to give of our own lives when we are summoned to that 'Great Reckoning' that marks the end of our lives on Earth? Will we say "Lord, I took no part in human life, but I didn't kill anyone", or perhaps we can say "I saw poverty and injustice all around me and did nothing, but I went to church regularly, Lord".
Perhaps we could sum that up in a tidy way and suggest that we really did nothing in our daily lives towards fulfilling the betterment of human existence.
Then perhaps we would be reminded of the Parable of the Talents and our examiner would say you have been found wanting for wasting the gifts that you were given. Perhaps even worse would be an accusation of passing by on the other side like the Levites and the Pharisees. Well, perhaps our only defence would be to claim membership and contributions to one or the other of our political parties.
The Jewish practice of the observance of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is perhaps the most important day in the Jewish religion, and speaks to forgiveness by apology and confession to God. Although the day may vary due to the differences between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian, the earliest date that this can be is September 14 and this happened in 1899 and will happen in 2013.
It marks the date that Moses is said to have received the second Ten Commandments (having shattered the first in the destruction of graven idols in the desert).
Perhaps it is an ancient practice that many of us would benefit from understanding in a very practical sense, and I hope that the Rabbi or some other Jewish scholar could share more understanding as a way to educate us on different practices that seem to be leading towards a common understanding. It seems that most religions have some objective of making a better life here, and perhaps we are not so unique after all.
My sadness is that as a Christian country we have yet to understand the differences between rituals in the many denominations, and the pointers that they make towards advancement in our daily life in total and not in part. There is a purpose to religion and the common thread is a guidance to life here as a preparation to a great hereafter. I am clear that an attempt to influence our existence on Earth needs to be our first step in serving our neighbours and carrying out good deeds, no matter what name we may choose to call The Almighty.
I just pray for peace and goodwill in this season and for sanity in our behaviour, and love towards each other. Perhaps the holidays will give our national leaders a chance to reflect on the disruptive nature of partisanship and corruption and really make a personal choice to make 2013 a year of healing and atonement, with or without the IMF.
Have a peaceful and joyous Christmas, and to those who have encouraged me to write, I say many thanks, and I look forward to the future with hope for Jamaica Land we Love.