The Slovenia Times's Christmas time again



Which viewpoint one takes depends on a mixture of factors, some personal and some formed by the society in which we live, the culture and thinking we grow up with, and the structures that our society creates to help us along the way. No matter what the personal factors may be, I think it is the family values and upbringing in a society that helps form our thought process, outlook to life and ways of coping. When I think of Christmas, four T's come to mind. The first T represents the current state of the World, and the three other T's relate to us, to the way society deals with adversity and the rub off effect this has on us, as individuals, our thinking, and in turn, coping mechanisms. Turmoil - Just pick up any newspaper, and nearly all the headlines scream turmoil, at every level, in politics, at the workplace, in our families. Bombings and terrorism are a common occurrence - natural disasters are becoming alarmingly frequent. What is our recourse in times of turmoil? On that will depend our reactions and future actions? In a certain sense turmoil is what we need for growth, but in another sense it is destructive in nature. And how do people in the East deal with turmoil? After all the questions, many accept things as destiny...what is written is written and that will happen, it is a kind of acceptance that some things cannot be changed in the immediate future and one will have to bear this difficult period till it works itself out. Words from books of old are often remembered. Solace often sought in prayer and in ancient words of wisdom. We in the East still cling to, although it is also slowly disappearing, respect for the 'Elders' - and even at the small, village level, justice is still served by village elders who call the warring parties to air their grievances, instead of waiting for the slow justice metered out by the overburdened legal system. The words of the wise old men still count for something. But, to bear that period of turmoil, one needs another T - Tolerance. As a whole those from the East, where large religious communities peacefully co-exist, are much more tolerant, much more accepting, much more able to cope, because they just have to be that way, if they wouldn't, they just wouldn't survive. On a mundane level, things like litigations sometimes take a few generations to resolve! Even now in some parts of Asia simple things like water are in short supply, or electricity...and that doesn't help when the heat wave is so intense that you could fry an egg on the hood of your car. To add to the summer mayhem, mosquitoes think this a fun time for a quick drink...if not annoyingly buzzing in your ears, just as you are falling asleep - you have no choice but to grin and bear it. To grin and to bear needs another certain T - Temperament and that is a very big T. One of the greatest freedom struggles was won through temperament of a people who chose non-violence as a weapon to rid the English of their land. Mahatma Gandhi chose the Christian doctrine of turning the other cheek to break the English that used guns to try and silence the Indian cause. Today, I often shudder to think of the temperament of a western society that thinks it's all right to bring guns into the classroom. Village India again could teach them a thing or two about respect - where students touch the feet of teachers, as a mark of respect when they enter class - or kiss the books that they learn from if they fall on the floor or are trod on. It's the small things that make the larger picture. Temperament is thought in the home and in the school; for it's from there that tomorrow's generation is born. Developed economies are like a two edged sword, on the one side they are like a well oiled machine, but on the other side they produce people that are so used to a level of comfort, that they find it difficult to deal with any loss of privileges, from a State that is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with their needs. Which brings me to the last of my T's - Thankfulness. A sense of thankfulness for what we have. For, if we concentrate on what we have, we will not focus on what we do not have. Some suggest keeping a gratitude journal, others meditation- for we have a lot to be thankful for, if only we think about. I remember a poem that once went: Lord, thank you for the untidy room - it means I have a roof over my head. And thank you for the piles of dirty clothes - at least I have clothes to wear. Thank you for the worries at work - it means I have a job... Thankfulness is an excellent remedy for frustration, anger and dissatisfaction. It's a pity that many doctors do not recommend it as part of their cure - to make us healthy in body, mind and soul. It is not hard to be thankful in good times, but it is hard to be thankful in difficult times - for some times difficult times are entrusted upon us to test our mettle, to make us grow or to bring us closer to the God above. But what has all this got to do with Christmas and the way we feel about it??? If we think of the T's in our life, then maybe we will be filled with a spirit of joy. Maybe we will be filled with a spirit of harmony, of togetherness and of Hope...for that is the true spirit of Christmas.


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