Christmas is a time of joy. Well, it is for some, and I hope that incudes you. But that’s not true of everyone. For many Christmas is a time that simply confirms the problems that they face in their everyday lives.
When people ask me why I write this blog and what motivates my work it is easy to answer: I am acutely aware of the many advantages I have enjoyed in my life and am equally aware that many do not enjoy the same opportunities. That is in far too many cases needless. I want to address the needlessness of so much of that suffering.
I am not talking when I refer to opportunities of the chance to live life to excess. I hope I don’t do that and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’m talking about things much more fundamental, and important than that. So this Christmas I offer a short reflection (or meditation or even intercessionary prayer if you like, and that is your inclination) on those who are deserving of our thoughts, in my opinion, this Christmas and on the actions we might take in the year to come.
Let’s remember the unemployed this Christmas. Theirs is a plight of despair within the power of government to solve. And solve it they should.
Let’s remember the young this Christmas. Too many have had their opportunity taken away from them. It is our duty to restore it to them.
Let’s remember the old this Christmas. Too many live in fear that the resources made available for them to live on and to provide for their care will leave them in poverty, or even pain. And cold is for too many a reality of the winter months. We can, and should, take this fear away.
Let’s remember the homeless, and those who face the fear of homelessness this Christmas. Without the sense of belonging that a home, a community and a sense of place can provide, let alone the basic shelter it can afford, life is always blighted. There are hundreds of thousands of homes empty in this country and we could and should build those needed to ensure everyone has the security people need.
Let’s remember those who live with despair this Christmas. Our society tells people they have and should embrace choice and yet the reality is that many have little or no choice, and for so many reasons have no way they can exercise that choice even if it is available. It is our duty to present a view of life to the world that accords with the reality that people really face and not a myth of a world that makes so many feel inadequate. And we have then to deliver the support those who despair need so that they can live in the world as it really is.
Let’s remember the sick. It’s so easy when well to ignore the demands that sickness makes on those who suffer, and their families. We have a duty to deliver the care the sick need, and the risk is that we will not do so in future. We can make sure we do so.
And let us remember the poor. It is all too easy for many to think we can’t make ends meet. But for some this is an impossibility without going without that which divides them from the world around them, and which imposes real physical and emotional hardship. In a world as wealthy as ours this is unnecessary: there is enough for all.
In 2012 we have a choice. We can choose to help the unemployed, the young, the old, the homeless, those in despair, the sick and the poor. Or we can ignore them and their needs. But let’s never doubt that this is a choice all of us make, wittingly or unwittingly.
It’s my wish that this Christmas more choose to take the action that is possible to relieve distress in our society and those of the societies of this world.
I wish you a happy Christmas whatever the issues you face now and in 2012.